In addition to delivering innovative and breakthrough programs for our clients, we continue to be focused on our “internal innovation” and bringing our mission of extraordinary relationships to life for our employees.  Cone is committed to giving every employee the opportunity to maximize his or her professional growth.  In order to meet this goal, Cone created an internal training program called Cone College.  Cone College is an ongoing effort to meet the training and development needs of our staff.  With over 80 sessions per year, our training program offers courses to all levels of staff.  We design and develop the course based on feedback from our employee survey & solicited feedback from staff.
Through Cone College, we wish to give employees the knowledge that will help them grow in their careers and help Cone stand out as a marketplace leader.  We want to support our employees in their pursuit to increase skill-sets by further developing their understanding of the marketing and communications industry.
With Cone’s growth, we have hired many new employees, each with a distinctive skill-set and a variety of professional experiences to contribute. We want to share this expertise with all employees. Additionally, we want all employees to be knowledgeable of our core practice areas, Cone’s operational procedures, media relations, communication skills and creativity skills. 
  • Offer employees the opportunity to sharpen their skills and learn from the experience and expertise of others
  • Develop a training program that stands out from other agencies 
  • Provide Cone employees with the opportunity to showcase their skills to other staff
  • Ensure that all Cone employees are knowledgeable about all of Cone’s capabilities
Cone offers over 80 trainings per year on a number of different subjects, ranging from “Pitching the Media 101” to “The Secrets to My Success”.  Each training is categorized into one of 7 categories, The Basics, Cross Education, Finance, Creativity, the Media, Computer Skills, and Secrets to My Success. 
To communicate the scope of each training, we have identify a target audience for each training session so staff know who is encouraged to attend.  We hope this will help employees select which trainings to attend.  This should in no way discourage employees at experience levels in addition to the suggested audience from attending.  We encourage staff to attend any training they feel would be beneficial.  
To continually evaluate Cone College and ensure trainings are meeting employees needs, employees are asked to utilize the feedback forms offered at the conclusion of each training.  Filling out these forms enables us to make the improvements necessary for Cone College to meet the agency’s training needs.
The Basics are trainings that every new employee must attend within the first six months of employment.  By attending these trainings, new employees will be better acclimated to our operational functions and expectations. These trainings are also a good refresher for employees who have been at Cone longer than six months.  The Basics trainings are offered at least 2-4 per year.
Cross Education  We strive to integrate our practice areas for optimal client service.  Employees should attend trainings in the practice areas they do not currently work in, as well as the area they focus in, so that every employee is cross-trained in all core practice areas. 
Finance trainings are intended to provide staff at all experience levels with the information they need to meet the financial reporting obligations. New employees are expected to attend the appropriate training sessions for their positions. 
Creativity  In response to employee requests, we offer a number of trainings on creativity.  Cone is a creative agency. We’ve won awards for our creativity. Attending these trainings help Cone employees learn more about keeping their creativity fresh.
Media  A major focus of our success servicing clients is based on strong media relations skills.  We want to provide all staff with the most up-to-date information in this area.  The Media Team continues to be innovative and progressive in introducing new training topics to improve skills and knowledge in media relations.
Computer Skills    As we continue to keep up with the latest technology and software programs, these trainings provide the opportunity for staff to expand their knowledge or brush up on their existing skills.
Secrets To My Success- As a collaborative agency, we nurture an environment that provides the opportunity to learn from the accomplishments of others.  Cone employees with a variety of backgrounds and experiences hold Secrets to My Success trainings once a month.  The trainings give staff the opportunity to learn from the Cone experts and gain inside information that will enable employees to work smarter, grow faster and be wise beyond their years. 
Capturing the Shared Knowledge:  To ensure that the information shared at the training sessions is available to all staff, HR keeps a running binder to capture the information shared at Cone College trainings.  The binder will be available for employees to sign out or make copies of specific information.  Employees who miss trainings, as well as new employees who want information on a training that occurred prior to their start of employment, are encouraged to utilize this resource.  Secrets to My Success training notes are stored in a shared online folder for all staff to access. 
Expectations of Participants:  At the beginning of each month, an e-mail is sent out to all staff as notification of the date and time each Cone College training is scheduled to take place during that month.  Additionally, we strongly encourage all managers to identify trainings at this time that their direct reports will benefit from attending and encourage their direct reports to block out time on their calendars to attend.  
Training Database- Cone’s training database is an additional tool for continuous learning that makes professional development more accessible to staff.  The online Professional Development Seminar Database is accessible to all employees and provides information on trainings in the following areas:  written and verbal communication, staff management, public relations, creativity, team building and coaching, and time and project management.  Employees are encouraged to utilize the database to help them acquire specific skills by attending one or two day trainings.
Cone College has been a huge success.  Over 90% of the agency has participated in at least 4 trainings per year.  In addition, new staff often comments on the trainings depth and Cone’s commitment to educating its employees and they see it as a recruitment tool.  We have received continuous feedback from staff on the trainings they have enjoyed the most and would like to hear more about.  For example, a training was held by our media department on the handling of a client crisis.  The was such a demand for this training, it was subsequently held two more times to ensure that all staff that wanted to attend had a chance to do so.  This was done at the expense of a considerable amount of time by one of our most senior employees, but Cone recognized the value in making sure all employees were exposed to this highly relevant and informative training.