PNC wants to help recent graduates find more than jobs; they want to help them find careers.
And those careers don't necessarily need to be with the bank. In fact, the bank's growing PartnerUp program intentionally brands itself without the PNC name.
"We want to build an ecosystem that many benefit from," said Pat Pastore, regional president at PNC Cleveland.
The PartnerUp program started in Pittsburgh in 2018, Pastore said. Cleveland was the first market PNC expanded the program to, as it has a large employee base — and need — in the region. The program is now in its second year in Cleveland, and it plans to launch the third location in Birmingham, Alabama, next school year.
"The reason we got started with it is really to build a pipeline of talent," Pastore said.
Its other goal is to "invest in the community," Pastore said. Hiring workers has been an ongoing issue, one that was highlighted by the pandemic.
"The success of communities is directly aligned with the success of PNC," he said.
The seven-month program ultimately aims to connect students with jobs right after graduation. PNC has employees dedicated to working in the participating high schools with students throughout the year, Pastore said. The focus is on exploring potential careers and learning skills like interviewing and writing resumes. Near the end of the program is an interviewing day, where participating employers interview students for potential jobs, and then a signing day, similar to those for student athletes, where employees can publicly offer jobs to participants. That took place on June 7 this year.
Currently, the Cleveland program works in the Cleveland Metropolitan School District, as well as in East Cleveland and Warrensville Heights. The first year, the program was just in CMSD, and 85 students took part, Pastore said. Twenty-nine job offers were made. This year, more than 120 students completed the program, and Pastore expected more than 50 offers to be made, noting before the signing day that some were still pending.
Antonyea Ellis, program manager for PartnerUp Cleveland, said students this year have been able to join companies like PNC, Swagelok and the Cleveland Clinic. The goal is "100%" for students to start careers where they can continue to grow, Ellis said.
One of the things Ellis said she discusses with students during the program is "finding that organization that you truly can fit into." It's about more than pay. It's about benefits; it's about continuing education.
Pastore said there is a vetting process when PNC brings employer partners into the program, and, while it's open to more, it is selective. The bank wants to make sure the employers signing on have enough well-paying jobs to offer, and that they have career tracks and opportunities for growth for new hires.
"It's very intentional," Pastore said. "We talk about it all the time. It's about career growth, and careers, not jobs."