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From Toys to Talent Transformation

Attracting talent to Rhode Island, the country’s smallest state and one with high unemployment rates, can be challenging for businesses like multinational toy and board game company Hasbro Inc. To bolster entry-level job experience to support its headquarters in Rhode Island, the company needed a talent pipeline of trainable and motivated young adults with the technical and professional skills to fill customer service and information technology positions. In 2014, Hasbro identified sales and marketing as another talent need (Editor’s note: The author works for Hasbro). 

To bridge its growing need for skilled workforce talent, Hasbro partnered with Year Up — an urban outreach program that targets youth in need of career skills — in 2007, and looked to the diverse Rhode Island community for talent to fill its IT and customer service pipeline. The voice of the customer is key for business success, and customer service interns help to drive brand expression as well as field customer experiences. IT interns are important because Hasbro is growing in the digital space. The company began hosting IT and customer service internships throughout the year, which resulted in more than 40 interns. Approximately 50 Hasbro employees mentored or supervised Year Up students during that time.

While IT and customer service remained talent needs, Hasbro needed to develop a program for its entry-level sales and marketing workforce. In 2014, the company collaborated with Year Up again to develop an in-house program focused on training and developing young sales and marketing professionals to drive innovation for Hasbro’s consumers and retail partners. The program, Transforming Talent, supported 13 young adults in their yearlong journey toward a career in sales and marketing.

The goals for the Hasbro-Year Up partnership are to provide employer talent needs, meet skills-gap challenges, and scale Year Up’s ability to serve more young adults. 

For Hasbro, current employees now support from talented, motivated interns in customer service, IT and sales and marketing. This partnership with Year Up drives customer and shareholder value using cost-effective interns, and provides a pipeline for a workforce that can offer relevant consumer insights and tap into the diverse community surrounding Hasbro’s headquarters.

It also strengthened the onboarding process for the company’s broader workforce by creating a customized curriculum for sales and marketing that will be used across the organization. The sales and marketing partnership in particular was an opportunity for the Hasbro community to use subject-matter expertise to empower and train a future generation of sales and marketers.

Rhode Island young adults gain access to actionable career paths and career success metrics. The sales and marketing interns in particular learned how to build a career within Hasbro, and had access to Hasbro leaders to navigate their training experience. 

For the community, the partnership between Hasbro and Year Up taps into the underutilized youth talent demographic.