Employers should create mentorship programs if they want to hire more diverse students for their internship programs

Posted November 13, 2020 by

I recently asked a number of career experts to share some of their wisdom with College Recruiter and, therefore, employers of students and recent graduates who are searching for part-time, seasonal, internship, and entry-level jobs. The question that I had was around how employers can increase the number of diverse students and recent graduates they hire, as many of them are really struggling with tactics and strategies for doing so successfully.

I was really happy to hear back from mentorship program expert Patty Alper,  the author of Teach to Work: How a Mentor, a Mentee and a Project Can Close the Skills Gap in AmericaShe is also president of the Alper Portfolio Group, a marketing and consulting company, and is a board member of both the Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship (NFTE) and US2020, the White House initiative to build mentorship in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers. Patty’s three tips were:

  1. Employers Mentor Students. I have written extensively about something I call Project-Based Mentoring ®. The actionable steps behind PBM include – companies that offer their employees (maybe once or twice a month) to mentor school students on Projects that are assigned by the teacher.  The inherent beauty of this, is the project fits in the wheelhouse of the employee, and they can share their knowledge as a real-world practitioner to the student/mentee. This mimics work-based settings with master planning, collaboration, timelines, and oral presentations. The company, by engaging students in this way, introduces youth to new fields of endeavor, new skills that mimic workplace environments, and a new sense of accomplishment once the project is completed. Indeed a relationship is formed whereby the mentor can endorse the student with a letter of recommendation, and can potentially invite them for a summer internship at the company. This is a win/win/win, for the company, the student and the school as it on-boards youth to a local company, and is the perfect segue to an internship, apprenticeship, or employment.
  2. Do Good Quotient in Your Community. After extensive interviews with MasterCard, EY, Comcast, SAP, Pfizer, I’ve learned that they all have robust community mentorship programs in schools where their companies reside. Inevitably, every human resource department has said that the Millennials, and younger generations like to see companies that “do good.” Their corporate social responsibility page is visited the most often by job candidates with the thought that, “They would prefer to work for a company that is not only profit-driven, but who cares about their footprint, their environment, and their community. “ Given a choice, an employee would rather work for a “do good” company than one who is not.
  3. Diversity and Inclusion Strategy. I recommend welcoming diversity through a company’s actions as well as their words. I think it would be important to have a strategy in place that includes diversity and inclusion on a company website with specific programs that are actionable, supportive, and welcoming. One such program I suggest would be to have a New Employee Mentor Program such that a seasoned employee would be assigned to a new employee who helps them navigate the inroads and to support key project assignments with goal setting, master planning, collaboration, grit to work through hypothesis that run awry, and practice sessions and reviews to prepare new mentees for finals oral presentation or written summaries. These steps ensure success, training, and kindness.
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