LightEdge Helps Educate the Next Generation of Technology Professionals

For years, the digital infrastructure industry has been experiencing talent shortages across teams — from sales to engineering to product development. LightEdge thinks it’s time to do something about it. That’s why we’re happy to announce a new educational partnership with Iowa State University’s Ivy Sales Forum, in addition to our ongoing internship program with Sweetwater Union High School District in San Diego.

The new partnership with Iowa State University is right in our backyard. LightEdge is headquartered in Des Moines, Iowa, the heart of the Midwest, and sits only about a 30-minute drive from Ames, IA – the home of Iowa State University’s campus. While Iowa may be famously known for sweet corn and an unforgettable state fair, it is also one of the most rapidly innovating states in the technology space. That’s why it’s no surprise that Iowa State University launched the Ivy Sales Forum in 2019 to ready students for a career in professional sales.

LightEdge joined the Forum for the 2022-2023 academic year as a corporate member. We’re proud to be one of the first technology organizations to participate. The Ivy Sales Forum is a collaboration between academia and industry and offers students experiential learning opportunities in sales.

Ivy Sales Forum: A Rare and Exciting Opportunity

The program is a bit of a rarity nationwide. Of over 4,800 colleges and universities in the U.S., less than 3% currently host academic sales programs. Within that pool, only a handful, such as Iowa State, belong to the R1 category (highest level of Carnegie Classifications). It’s clear that these programs are important, though; over 60% of first-time salespeople either resign or are terminated from their first jobs. On the other hand, students from university sales programs, when compared to their non-sales-educated peers:

  • Ramp up 50% faster with standard company training
  • Turn over an average of 30% less
  • Save companies approximately $200,000 per hire within the first 18 months of employment

Open to students from any major, the Ivy Sales Forum is bringing in a diverse pool of participants. Forum organizers recruit new talent through scholarships, sales competitions, networking events and other sales club activities.

LightEdge + Ivy

Tommy Castle, LightEdge Director of Sales, said the company is proud to share its knowledge and experience with students. He noted that the program is an opportunity to have a positive impact on the next generation right here at home in Iowa, while also benefiting the LightEdge sales organization.

Along with LightEdge’s corporate membership, Castle serves on the Ivy Sales advisory board. LightEdge’s Daniele Ogren, Talent Acquisition Specialist, is managing student relationships, the recruitment process and cultivating the relationship with ISU. Meanwhile, Jeff Matlock, the hiring manager for the SDR team, is heavily involved in speaking with students. In addition, many sales team members have expressed interest in going to campus events, speaking at lectures and supporting the Cyclone spirit. LightEdge’s involvement with the Forum will continue to be a team effort!

The new Ivy Sales Forum program has gotten off to a great start. For example:

  • The Foundations of Personal Selling, a required course for sales certificate students, has witnessed over 300% growth in enrollment between fall 2018 and spring 2022.
  • Sales Education Foundation, a non-profit organization that elevates the sales profession through college and university programs, has been listing the Ivy program as a “Top University Sales Program” since 2019.
  • The Forum has four tenure/tenure-eligible faculty members and industry practitioners who teach sales classes.
  • 13 corporations (including LightEdge) are part of the program.

To provide a practical example of how LightEdge is helping Ivy students, company representatives attended the university’s Fall Speed Selling and Networking event, where they provided constructive feedback to students on their elevator pitches while also offering the opportunity to interview with LightEdge. Moving forward, the company also plans to be involved in all of the Forum’s events.

An Internship on a Mission

In addition to the Ivy Sales program, LightEdge participates in a technology internship program for high school students in California. Sweetwater Union High School District and NFINIT, a San Diego-based full-stack technology provider acquired by LightEdge in early 2022, launched their internship in the summer of 2021. So far, six interns have gone through the program, and plans are underway to re-open submissions in spring 2023.

Sweetwater and NFINIT developed the program as a way to combat the lack of diversity and representation in the computing and tech fields, which are struggling to attract enough talent to keep pace with job demand. With LightEdge’s San Diego data center as the classroom, the internship offers underserved students exposure to a broad view of IT-related career choices.

LightEdge is grateful for the opportunity to support students through the Iowa and San Diego programs. Ultimately, our dedication to education, career development and our communities led us to participate in these two excellent endeavors. We look forward to continuing to support the next generation while fostering a diverse talent pool for the digital infrastructure industry.