Allie Danziger, CEO & Co-Founder of Ampersand Professionals, brings her unique entrepreneurial experience to the pod to talk about shortening the skills gap between education and employment. As someone who benefitted from early opportunities at internships and founded her first business at 24, Allie is passionate about helping students transform into thriving professionals. Talking points include Integrate Agency, Ampersand Professionals, and the new generation of professionals entering the workforce.
[00:00] Podcast begins - Transforming Students into Young Professionals at Ampersand
[05:44] Starting a marketing business at only 24
[15:40] Noticing a skill gap in new employees
[19:19] Creating better internship programs & developing talent
[23:12] Understanding the generational divide at work
[28:13] Selling Ampersand to Ascent Funding
You left your original business, Integrate Agency, to start another one. Why?
After founding her original business, Allie was fortunate enough to sell and retain ownership, continuing to be involved in Integrate Agency until her passion for mentorship called her down a different path. That path, it turned out, was talent development. At Integrate, Allie had seen employees coming in that had no experience in the workforce and no soft skills for office success. Someone needed to step up for these young professionals, and Ampersand was born.
“I would sit down with my husband over a glass of wine and ask, ‘Why is there no book that I can send these kids to? Why is there no podcast? Why is there no course that would help take these kids where they need to go and give them the resources they need?’”
Who should be responsible for talent development for young professionals?
Behind the creation of Ampersand is a horror story of shirked responsibility. Allie explains that no one is stepping up to develop new talent in the young professionals graduating college today. Due to COVID shortages, limited funding, and remote working, workplaces aren’t training their employees and colleges aren’t preparing kids for the workforce. Instead, young professionals are left on their own, untrained and disillusioned by their working experiences.
“There's this misalignment, and Ampersand has been filling that gap with our training. We teach things like how to send a calendar invite, what to talk to your manager about on the first day of work…and also, the why. Why do you need to show up to work in certain ways?”
Why are there less internships now?
Not only are there less internship opportunities due to the recession woes of the current economy, Allie also sees a disconnect between what internships are asking for and what the new generation of workers want. Companies that are offering mentorships aren’t offering learning opportunities that young professionals are looking for. Workers don’t want to be faceless assistants, they want to understand their impact.
“Going to go make copies for a company just isn't as enticing because they don't necessarily want that job…they want more autonomy in their careers, and they want to know the impact that they're making.”
How does this new generation of workers differ from millennial employees?
As a member of the millennial generation, Allie remembers entering the workplace and immediately having to fight hard to earn her keep. With layoffs impacting her generation early, millennials developed a different attachment to their workplace than the new generation, Gen Z. In contrast, Gen Z was raised through a tumultuous economy and values making a positive impact on a company and on their own lives, inspiring an entrepreneurial spirit and a lack of interest in certain office positions.
“Gen Z comes in and they're like, ‘No, I don't want to be in the office,’ because when they were young, their parents were getting laid off. Throughout their childhood, there was 9/11, it was a recession, everything with COVID…all the movement of everything is their reality.”