Partner Company Perspectives: The Orr Difference

Orr Fellowship is an early career opportunity like no other, providing college students with not only a full-time job upon graduation, but also the chance to build their skills, develop as leaders, and benefit from a growth-minded network of peers and alumni. Fellows, past and present, often speak about how Orr Fellowship accelerated their career and truly changed their lives. However, there’s a story to be told from the perspective of Orr’s partner companies who hire Fellows each year. Orr Fellowship isn’t only a benefit for the Fellow – it’s a long-term opportunity of success for the partner companies and the Indianapolis economy. Three partner company representatives were asked to give their thoughts on the perceived advantages of being a partner company, their thinking behind Fellow placement and roles, and Fellows’ impact to their businesses and the economic ecosystem.

Why Young Talent?

Many employers are faced with the question, “Why hire young talent at all?” Employees at the beginning of their careers can be viewed as inexperienced, a large time investment, and very general in terms of skills. While whether or not those items are true depend on the individual, businesses need to be thinking about the bigger picture. 

“We have the opportunity to stay connected to young talent entering the workforce, and that perspective that our Orr Fellows bring into ADVISA is young and diverse, and that’s everything,“ says Heather Haas, President of ADVISA. “Organizations need to understand what young employees want and need, what’s on their hearts and minds, because businesses have to be fertile ground for young people to want to plant roots.”

Investing in young talent isn’t just a good thing to do – it’s necessary. It’s all about the long-term reward and planning for what’s next. Lexie Seward, Early Career Talent Specialist at The Heritage Group and Orr alumna, describes how The Heritage Group views the importance of hiring Orr Fellows. 

“We’re a company that’s been around for 90 years, so we’re constantly looking at succession. For those at the company getting ready to retire, how are we planning to fill that leadership? The best way that we can do that is investing in young talent. We find top candidates from Orr, and then we want to invest in them through Orr Fellowship programming and internal initiatives so that we can ultimately have the next generation of leaders within The Heritage Group.”

Find Strong Candidates, Without the Heavy-Lifting

A widely agreed upon advantage to Orr Fellowship for partner companies is the recruited candidates. Orr handles a majority of the recruitment process, including the laborious sourcing and vetting aspects. 

“The vetting through the interviews, the screenings… Orr truly puts forth in front of the partner company very solid candidates that are hard to get cold,” explains Mike Reynolds, CEO of Innovatemap and Orr Fellowship Board Member. Rather than relying on the open market of job candidates, partner companies can interview the cream of the crop that have already been through a selective recruitment process and matched with the companies’ criteria. 

What is that criteria? Of course, it’ll be different for every company, but Reynolds provides some guidelines for how partner companies should approach hiring young talent.

“We’ll be very open minded about the candidates. I enter Finalist Day quite skeptical that they would meet any job description perfectly. They don’t have that experience yet, so I’m not going to disqualify an outstanding candidate just because they don’t meet these very objective, unrealistic job descriptions,” says Reynolds. 

“The way we do it is we orientate around jobs to be done. Say there’s 12 things we need. I’m going to honestly get to know the candidate, get inspired by their capabilities and realize, oh my gosh, they can come in immediately for five things that we need. That’s how I think you’re maximizing an out-of-college graduate best.”

Haas echoes a similar strategy. “Prior to the recruitment process, we take stock of the business and ask okay, what needs do we have if we had another set of hands around here?” Just like that, a company has needs met and begins investing in young talent early on.

It sounds simple… because it is. There’s a place for young talent in every company. It may require an employer to take a step back and analyze what needs to be done now or in the future, but an Orr Fellow can do wonders in terms of fulfilling what the business needs.

Fellow Impact and Growth 

“Orr Fellowship attracts a student that really wants to dive in, dive broadly, and do a lot of things,” says Seward. “It’s usually somebody who’s looking to give back and grow in a nontraditional way.”  

Fellows will have differing positions at their partner companies focusing on various skills, but there are some attributes that unite Fellows. Orr Fellowship looks for candidates who take initiative, are entrepreneurial, and value growth and community. In turn, these attributes are what a Fellow can bring to the table at their job. Fellows don’t just show up to get paid; they want to contribute to the success of the business. 

“There’s a lot of curiosity and hunger that I’ve typically seen come from Fellows,” says Reynolds, reflecting on past Innovatemap Fellows. “They want to own something and steward it to be greater, and that’s certainly welcomed.”

Seward explains the ongoing impact of Orr Fellows at The Heritage Group. “Fellows have taken on a lot of key projects within our businesses, a lot of which are still moving forward today. They’re not just doing busy work; they really are the cornerstone of a lot of our early career type positions.”

While partner companies benefit from Fellow impact early on, there are advantages that make hiring Orr Fellows unique from other young talent. As it stands today, Orr Fellowship has 150+ Fellows. These Fellows are learning alongside each other in Orr programming, leading key initiatives within Orr as an organization, and sharing knowledge with each other. 

As iron sharpens iron, Fellow strengthens Fellow, allowing them to arrive smarter and more experienced in the workplace as a result of how they spend their time outside of work. In addition, they create social bonds with one another, which helps them feel like they can make Indy their home. Fellows have the well-rounded advantages of a strong community and network. Haas shares, “You’re not only getting the candidate who comes to your company, but you’re getting an employee who is connected to a really forward-thinking and development-oriented community. And that community is powerful.”


It’s not often that businesses have access to a program that takes care of the sourcing, vetting, and development of top post-graduate talent from across the Midwest. This is a group of individuals early in their careers that are eager, bright, and ready to make an impact. They have access to an expansive network of Orr alumni and Indianapolis business leaders, and hone their skills every day. They care about taking their contributions to the next level and adding value wherever they are. 

Seward shares from the combined perspective of a previous Fellow and current Fellow employer, “It’s worth every investment.”