Career Advice for Job Seekers

Best kinds of employers for people of color seeking internships

Anita Jobb AvatarAnita Jobb
February 19, 2024

Finding a great internship is always a challenge, but that challenge can be even greater for people of color. Here are the best kinds of companies to consider:

  • Tech Giants with a Purpose: Leading technology companies are not just about innovation; many have taken significant steps towards diversity and inclusion. Some offer programs specifically designed to support underrepresented groups. These internships provide valuable experience and mentorship opportunities with professionals who champion diversity. Unfortunately, 2023 and 2024 have been hard years for many tech giants, with news about their massive layoffs becoming a regular occurrence. Still, the fact that an organization is laying off software developers does not mean that they’re failing or even struggling. It may just mean that those developers built a great product and it is now time for the organization to sell and deliver that product to its customers, so even while laying off developers they may be hiring in sales and customer service.
  • Socially Responsible Startups: Startups with a focus on social impact are increasingly popular. They often operate with a lean team, meaning interns can enjoy hands-on experience and contribute substantially. Look for startups that prioritize social responsibility and have a diverse leadership team, as they’re likely to offer a more inclusive culture. How? Instead of just reading words written by someone in marketing or human resources that make these claims, also look at the employer’s About Us or LinkedIn company pages. Are their leaders overwhelmingly or even entirely white males? If so, the diversity-related words in their marketing materials are probably worth about as much as the paper they’re not written on.
  • Non-Profit Organizations for Change: Non-profits working on issues like education, social justice, and environmental advocacy offer a unique platform for interns of color. These organizations value diverse perspectives and are often on the front lines of change, providing interns with the opportunity to work on meaningful projects and see the direct impact of their work. Still, you’re going want to go beyond trusting the words of the mission and verify that the employees actually reflect that mission. Some non-profits do great work in inner cities, for example, yet their employees may not at all reflect the clients they serve.
  • Financial Firms with a Mission: Some financial institutions are leading the way in diversity and inclusion, offering internships that provide mentorship programs, diversity networks, and inclusion training. These opportunities are ideal for those looking to break into finance while working in an environment that values and promotes diversity. Banks and other financial services organizations are notorious for being superb about diversifying their workforce overall, but hardly at all above the branch level. If you’re looking to work in a branch, that’s fine. But if you want to be at their head office and don’t want to be the only person of color, think twice.
  • Creative Industries that Celebrate Diversity: The creative sector, including advertising, media, and entertainment companies, increasingly recognizes the value of diverse voices. Companies that produce content for and by people of color offer a platform for interns to bring their unique perspectives to the table, fostering a culture of creativity and inclusivity.

Key Considerations for Choosing the Right Internship:

  • Diversity and Inclusion Policies: Look for companies that not only talk the talk but walk the walk. Policies, employee resource groups, and a diverse leadership team are good indicators of an inclusive workplace.
  • Opportunities for Growth: Seek out internships that offer clear paths for professional development, including mentorship programs, training sessions, and the chance to work on impactful projects.
  • Company Culture: A company’s culture speaks volumes about its values. Research and reach out to current or former employees to get a sense of whether a company’s environment is supportive and inclusive.
  • Social Impact: For those passionate about making a difference, consider companies that align with your values and are committed to social responsibility.

At College Recruiter, we believe that every student and recent graduate deserves a great career. We also believe that the demand for diverse and inclusive workplaces will increase. For people of color looking to embark on their professional journeys, choosing an internship with a company that values diversity is not just about gaining work experience; it’s about finding a place where you can truly belong and flourish. In 2024, we want to see more candidates prioritize internships that advance their careers while, at the same time, also upholding their values and contributing to a more inclusive world.

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