When billionaire businessman Robert Smith announced that he was paying off the entire student loan debt for the Morehouse Class of 2019, he changed the game for those young men. Starting life without student loan debt opens up opportunities for them to pursue careers out of passion, start businesses, and give back without added financial stress.
Well, Mr. Smith is also trying to change the game in the tech sector too. With the launch of a non-profit organization called InternX, he is creating opportunity and removing barriers of entry of minorities to into the science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) space.
Intern X is an eight-week paid internship program that places students in STEM related positions across sectors. Internships are available so far in financial, marketing, software, not-for-profits, and real estate sectors. Current company partners include AT&T, Price Waterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, Citi and Vista Equity Partners.
The program is aimed at rising sophomores from ethnically underrepresented groups with a minimum GPA of 2.8. These paid internships are located throughout the country with relocation assistance available in some circumstances. The goal is that 1,000 students will have this opportunity.
A leader in the tech industry, Smith is the Founder, Chairman and CEO of Vista Equity Partners. Vista currently manages equity capital commitments of over $46Bn and oversees a portfolio of over 50 software companies that employ over 60,000 people worldwide. In 2017, Smith was named by Forbes as one of the 100 Greatest Living Business Minds.
InternX is operated by Mr. Smith’s non-profit organization, the Fund II Foundation.
Fighting for Diversity
Intern X joins a number of other non-profit organizations fighting to level the playing field and bring diversity corporate America across sectors. Diversity organizations like Management Leadership 4 Tomorrow, T. Howard Foundation, INROADS and Sponsors for Educational Opportunity have for years been fighting for diversity and bringing attention to the lack of people of color in the professional workplace. The common cry from companies too lazy to look is that they “can’t find” talented minority hires. Organizations like these force companies to open their eyes and remove the excuse that the talent is not available.
As internships continue to grow in importance, these diversity organizations will continue to play a part in making sure that divserse talent across sectors gets recognized.
As a college student, it is vital that you do internships early and often throughout your academic career. In the increasingly competitive job market, internships are the gateway to even getting an interview with some companies after graduation. The experience, connections, networking and mentorship you can gain from internships can be career changing.
To get started on your search, download my free Internship Manual Toolkit.