A Young Professional’s Perspective: Generation WV’s Fellowship Program

December 4, 2023

As the new year approaches, so does the opportunity for young professionals to take part in Generation WV’s Fellowship Program. This leadership development program focuses on training, educating, and building confidence in our next generation of leaders. Our very own, Krislyn Holden participated in the inaugural Fellowship Class of 2023. Learn about the program, her experience, and how you can support retention of young professionals in WV.  

About Generation WV: 

Generation West Virginia is a statewide organization dedicated to attracting, retaining, and advancing young people in the Mountain State. The organization accomplishes this by connecting young people to jobs and opportunities in the Mountain State; providing accessible programs and educational tools that empower and inspire young leaders; developing and sustaining an activated, diverse network of young people; and identifying and communicating the priorities, motivations, and needs of the next generation of West Virginians. For more information, visit generationwv.org

About the Fellowship Program: 

The Fellowship Program is a nine-month program focused on strengthening professional development skills, meeting leaders across the state, learning about West Virginia, and forming lasting bonds with other fellows.  

The program was designed in response to the ongoing loss of young talent from West Virginia to out-of-state opportunities. Research shows that providing quality opportunities for professional development is a critical strategy for retention and solving many workforce challenges. 

Over the course of the program, Fellows participate in five in-person and four two-hour virtual sessions. In-person sessions are held at a variety of locations in the Mountain State. This year the class went to New River Gorge National Park, Matewan and Willamson, Harpers Ferry, Morgantown, and Charleston. 

Each session focuses on specific themes or skills. For example, the first session focused on the importance of Community Engagement. In that session fellows met with The HUB’s Executive Director Stephanie Tyree, WV Tourism’s Director of Destination Development Ennis B. Smith, and retired Park Ranger Lizzie Watts. Each professional brought a different perspective and background to insinuate that a big factor in community success is community engagement.  

 The program provides additional networking opportunities for fellows outside of the formal speakers. This year fellows met with Ascend WV members in Morgantown, professionals in the Charleston area, and businesses in Williamson.  

If one thing is for certain, it’s that young professionals work hard and play harder. The Fellowship Program provided activities that make the most of West Virginia’s amenities. In the New River Gorge National Park, fellows went white water rafting. In Matewan and Williamson, fellows explored the Hatfield and McCoy Trails. Harpers Ferry fellows toured the town as well as spent the afternoon on the Shenandoah River. In Morgantown, the group visited the WVU Coliseum and Training Center.  

To be completely honest, in the beginning I was not interested in the program. My boss was encouraging and really motivated me to apply. Now, I am thankful to Greenbrier Valley EDC for wanting to invest in my career development and for the opportunity to be in the Class of 2023. The sessions covered a number of topics by subject experts that, no matter the sector, we could identify something to use in our careers.

As a professional, I grew my network with leaders throughout the state, learned valuable skills that can be applied in my career, and was educated about different programs available and initiatives that are impacting West Virginia. One of my favorite sessions was exploring your professional strengths and what that means for you as an employee or employer that works in a team.  

As a West Virginian, I was able to see our beautiful state in different ways. From learning about the new national park to the history that shaped America, West Virginia is the epitome of hard work and dedication. It shows in our past, present, and will prolong into the future.  

As a personal token, the most valuable and meaningful result of this program is the amazing young professionals that stood by my side. The Class of 2023 included 24 young professionals across 14 counties in West Virginia. Career backgrounds span various sectors, including government, healthcare, education, nonprofit, technology and law. Without this program, I would likely not cross paths with half of them. With this program, I was not only able to meet them, but also able to build friendships. They have become supporters in every part of my career journey, including yelling compliments while getting a professional headshot taken.  

I would highly recommend this program to young West Virginians across the state. Generation WV truly cares about young professionals, and it shows within their Fellowship program among others. If you would learn more about the program, please do not hesitate to reach out to me at kholden@gvedc.com

Apply for Class of 2024: 

This program is open to young, West Virginia professionals across all industries who are motivated and eager to take the next step in furthering their careers.  

If admitted into the program, fellows are required to attend no less than seven sessions, with attendance of all highly encouraged. The five in-person sessions begin on Thursday evenings and go into Saturday afternoon. The four sessions are 2-hour virtual sessions. 

The GWV Fellowship program fee is $2,500 and goes toward covering the cost of the retreats. There is no additional cost beyond this fee. All lodging, food, travel, and activities are included in this cost. Sponsorship from your employer is highly encouraged. Sponsorship acts as a recognition from your business of your accomplishments and potential as well as spotlighting a business who is interested in their employee’s development. For more information on how to introduce this program to your employer, visit Generation WV’s employer conversation guide

To learn more and to apply, visit generationwv.org/fellowship