Paid diversity internship programs are out there ready to help you reach your internship and career goals. When searching for internships, many students limit themselves to looking through a few postings online or visiting company websites. For minority or traditionally underrepresented college students, diveristy programs exist to open doors. .
As the former senior manager for the T. Howard Foundation, I am a firm believer in the opportunities diversity internship programs provide. For years, these nonprofit organizations and industry sponsored programs have promoted diversity through internships, professional development and employment opportunities. Unfortunately, every year thousands of eligible students don’t apply for internships through these various organizations because often they don’t know about them.
Why Minority Internship Recruitment Programs Exist
INROADS is on of the oldest minority recruitment organizations around. Frank C Carr, the INROADS founder once said,
“It’s no secret that for years, people of color — Blacks, Hispanic/Latinos, and Native American Indians — were noticeably absent from the ranks of corporate North America. By June of 1970, it was time to make a change.”
As a result, there are now numerous nonprofit minority internship recruitment programs doing similar work across a range of industries. Diversity in the workforce continues to be an issue for Fortune 500 companies, government agencies, on Wall Street, in media, technology and other industries. Internship organizations are working everyday to change that.
These programs have worked for years to forge relationships with some of the most well known companies in the world. As a result, companies want the students coming from these programs because they know they are well prepared to be exceptional interns. So, you can always apply directly to companies on your own (and should), but don’t stop there. Pursue every route possible to land your dream internship.
In the wake of so much that transpired in 2020, companie now more than ever seem to understand the need for diversity. The need and the reality have not been fully realized, by any stretch of the imagination. Even in a year where there seems to be increased awareness, the message isn’t getting through to the top.
Comments from the Chief Executive at Wells Fargo drive home this point. He told staff on a Zoom call, “the bank had trouble reaching diversity goals because there was not enough qualified minority talent“. Ignorant statement like that reinforce why diversity internship organizations and programs must continue to exist, create opportunity and fight to shed light on the talent that is out there in underrepresented communities.
Why Apply to a Minority Internship Program
While the application processes can be lengthy and highly competitive, apply to all of the programs you are eligible for. In addition, these organizations provide professional development support and learning experiences that exten beyond just the internship. Other benefits can include:
- Access to multiple companies with a single application
- Support during and after your internship
- An extensive alumni network
- Networking opportunities
- Job opportunities
- Professional development events
- Paid travel opportunities
No matter your major, there is a program for you. Do your research and connect to an organization. It could be life changing.
My Favorite Minority Internship Programs
- T. Howard Foundation
- Sponsors for Educational Opportunity (SEO)
- Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) – National Internship Program
- Management Leadership for Tomorrow (MLT)
These programs cover everything from media interships, sports, entertainment, Forunte 500 companies, financial firms, law firms, non-profit, consumer goods and more. The deadlines, requirements and program componant for each is different. They all, however, are programs that will provide you with a stepping stone to a career.
Check out the Diversity Internship Directory for a complete listing of internships programs and companies!
Be Ready for the Competition
Competition for these spots is fierce. Be sure that your application materials; including a resume, college transcripts, interview, writing sample and recommendations, are the best representation of you. Get started and finish before the deadlines and you might find yourself with your dream, paid, internship this summer. For help with your resume, check out this free resume template.
If you know of a minority internship program, drop a comment below so that others can apply too. Check out the Diversity Internship Directory and discover a comprehensive listing of companies and organizations across the country that are available today!
As a college student you probably need more money. Tuition, room & board, books, Uber, Amazon… everything starts to add up. The idea of doing an unpaid internship does not make anyone excited. You know you should do an internship of some sort before you graduate, but what do you do when you’re broke and offered an unpaid internship? An unpaid internship is better than no internship, but you have to figure out if it is worth it for you.
I did eight internships in college. Some of them paid, some not. I was a broke college student too, but I saw opportunity in each of the unpaid positions I took and I was hungry to build my resume. I didn’t just take any unpaid internship that came my way. It had to enhance what I was learning in class, and I still had to be able to afford to work for no paycheck. The experiences on my resume when I graduated didn’t say “paid or unpaid,” they just demonstrated how prepared I was to start my career.
The best way to avoid having to take an unpaid internship is to find a paid internship. Download my free Internship Manual Toolkit so that you can get on the path to finding your dream gig. If the best opportunity you find is unpaid, here are four strategies I’ve used to make it through the unpaid periods.
Work a Job While You Intern
During my unpaid internships, I always worked at least one additional part-time job. If you are interning over the summer, that is a much easier thing to do. If your summer internship is full-time, that leaves you weekends and some evenings to work a job. It doesn’t leave you as much time for fun and socializing but, if you are about trying to gain experiences and earn some income, then it is the trade off you make.
In my senior year, while doing an unpaid internship with the New York State Power Authority, I also worked part-time at the public affairs office on campus at SUNY Oswego. I was able to do this through careful planning and having select days for each obligation. In today’s global economy, you can seek out jobs online that will make time management less hectic. If your internship allows you to do real world projects and build a portfolio, you will have work to show off and start freelancing through sites like fivver.com.
If the internship requires transportation that you can’t afford, have a conversation with the manager about helping with the cost of transportation. If the company is on a bus route or metro/subway line, they might be able to assist you by providing a bus pass or metro/subway card. If you have to drive a long way, ask for a gas card. In one of my internships I was asked to drive to a location that was over 20 miles one-way. Even though that internships was already paid, I told them the expenses for gas would keep me from being able to do it. They offered to let me use their gas card for free fill ups every week. I happily went to work.
Negotiate the Hours
Ask if you can work fewer hours so that you can make some money at a part-time job. Sophomore year I had an unpaid spring semester internship for academic credit with a AAA baseball team. Interns where offered the opportunity to stay with the team through the summer as full-time interns, but still unpaid.
At the time, my career goal was to work in public relations for a pro sports team so it was important for me to stay connected to the sports world for as long as possible. Financially, it just wasn’t going to work for me to be a full-time unpaid intern. I’d already proven myself as a solid intern over the spring, so I approached my manager and asked for a schedule that would allow me to only work on game-day. That modification to part-time allowed me to work two part-time jobs in addition to my internship.
Is Being Unpaid Worth It
Think about what you will get out of the internship. Some benefits include:
Will doing the internship make you more competitive for getting a job when you graduate? Will the internship make you more attractive for highly paid internships in the future? Think beyond the immediate moment to the longer term benefit of taking the unpaid gig. Ask a lot of questions and ask about the outcome of previous interns that have worked there. Not all internships (paid or unpaid) are created equal. Do your research and check off the list of things that are true benefits. Giving up 40+ unpaid hours for experience may not be worth it if you could find a great fulfilling opportunity that only takes up half the time, and still allows you to work elsewhere and make some money.
Fair vs Unfair
I believe that interns contribute to the workplace and should be compensated. Seek balance. Don’t let yourself be taken complete advantage of. If you are sent out into the field with no training, never meet with your manager, seem to be there only for the purpose of making the boss money, get no instruction, and feel like it is complete waste of your time, then let it go. Your time is valuable too.
Recent lawsuits have led to changes by many companies who now pay their interns. Some companies hold fast to the idea that what the student is getting in terms of experience is more important than money. While experience can not always be measured in monetary gain, unpaid internships offer an advantage to students that can afford to do them.
College costs continue to rise, just as the cost of living keeps going up. For interns who have family support and financial means, a paid internship isn’t something they have to think twice about doing. For the intern who provides family support, an unpaid internship is just another hurdle in the long line of issues already stacked against them. Interning with the promise of experience that may lead to a job in the future, doesn’t pay the bills when they are due.
I never had a full-time unpaid internship because I just couldn’t afford it. That sadly kept me from being able to take advantage of other internships that I might have been able to get. At the end of my college career however, eight internships later, I did not have trouble finding a job. If that one shiny bright company isn’t willing to pay you, and you can’t afford the time away from work, look harder and find a better opportunity. I actually created an internship one day out of a random encounter. It is detailed in my book, The Internship Manual: A Step-by-Step Guide to Getting the Internship of Your Dreams.
Internships matter. Make it your business to do multiple internships before you graduate so that you are in the best position to launch your career. I am an advocate of completing at least four internships before graduating. Internship are not just about making money, it is about starting the process of shaping your career, learning more about yourself, adding to your skills and getting ready for the real world work force. Start the path to get your dream internship and it might lead to your dream job.
Much to the dismay of many parents (and students) who fork over thousands of dollars to institutions of higher education, going to college doesn’t teach you HOW to get a job.
Throughout my career I have encountered many students who wait until their senior year to start trying to figure out what the next move is. Career planning starts when you begin college, not three months before graduation. Senior year comes and well-meaning parents ask, “how is the job search” or “have you found a job yet”, but fail to recognize often that their soon to be college graduate doesn’t even know where to even start looking.
While your philosophy professor can help you expand your horizons, his job isn’t to teach you how to put together a resume.
So if college doesn’t teach you how to get a job, who does? It is a combination of asking others who have been where you are, reading and learning along the way. Your professors are largely there for the purpose of equipping you with knowledge about subject areas. While your philosophy professor can help you expand your horizons, his job isn’t to teach you how to put together a resume. They are experts in their fields, not the field of career preparation. Connect with industry professionals, use career services on campus, join professional networks, build your network and do internships.
Figuring out what you want to pursue and planning your career does not happen only in the confines of the classroom. If you are a freshman, use these tips to get ahead of the game. If you are a senior, all hope is not lost, you just need to act quickly.
1. Start on Campus
Some colleges require students to complete some sort of career awareness class that will use self-assessment tools to point you in the right direction of the best career fit. These courses also sometimes provide general information on the job search process, writing resumes and interviewing. For the most part, they tend to be 1 or 2 credit hours and are not super challenging. Take this course your first or second year and it can potentially save you some time (and money) by helping you pick the right major sooner.
2. Don’t Waste Your Breaks
When you are in college, life revolves around fall, spring and summer break. Did you know that the best summer internships are found in the winter. How can you maximize those weeks between fall and spring semester? You can volunteer, do an internship, take a non-academic course online that can teach you a different skill, read books, and do informational interviews. I am not saying that you have to be all work, all the time, but I am saying to not waste your time.
3. Intern Early, Intern Often
You MUST complete an internship before you graduate. I don’t care if your major doesn’t require it, I am telling you, do an internship. I’ve placed over 400 interns with major companies across the country, many of whom went on to be hired. It is actually in your best interest to do multiple internships. I did eight internships in college so I know it can be done.
When you graduate, you will be competing against thousands of other recent graduates also with good grades from a good college. You have to begin to separate yourself from the pack. Internships give you the hands on experience that can be the difference maker for you. Finding an internship doesn’t have to be daunting or overwhelming. You can download my free Internship Manual Toolkit for quick and easy steps to getting your internship search underway.
4. Learn How to Network
Networking doesn’t have to be scary. The process of expanding the circle of people you know is something that you must embrace to be successful. Who you know can be the key to landing a great internship and potentially a great job. It isn’t just about collecting friends on Facebook or followers on Instagram, I’m talking about building quality relationships with people that will be invested in, and care about your future.
Your network will supply you with internship or job leads, connect you to mentors and connect you to others. Aim to fill your network with peers as well as professionals. Building your network is not just about finding people that you can help you out, but also about helping others along the way.
5. Understand the Tools
In today’s job search climate you also need a LinkedIn profile. LinkedIn is a social media network used for building professional contacts. Social media can be a burden or a blessing. Be mindful of your social media accounts across the board, what you post and what you are tagged in. Employers are often checking out your accounts looking for things that might eliminate you from competition. Understand the power of social media and how you can connect with companies and learn about brands and internships, but be sure you don’t let these tools come back to bite you.
You must have a professionally done resume for your job search. I’ve developed an affordable online course The New Grads Guide to Creating a Standout Resume which takes you from A-Z in creating the best resume possible. My course includes resume templates, videos and worksheets to walk you through creating a resume and awesome cover letter. If you are not ready to invest in my course, head over to your career services office to get assistance with putting together a resume that reflects your skills and abilities.
Strong interviewing skills will also be something that you should build over your collegiate career. Participate in mock interviews and get feedback so you can perfect your interview style. Interviews happen in person, over Skype, on the phone or even over lunch. Start learning about the interview process in general so you’ll be able to find your comfort zone in all situations.
Career planning is an ongoing activity. Even after you have laid out your plan for what you want, it will likely change over the course of your college career. As you meet new people, expand your interests, become a leader, get involved and complete internships, your plan will change, and that is totally OK! Your college education will give you the substance and the background qualifications to go after your career, but the How is up to you.
Envelopes and emails with the power to make dreams come true or break hearts are being opened across the country as colleges are sending out accept and deny notifications.
If you are one of the many college seniors anxiously awaiting notification of the fate of your academic future, the wait is almost over (hopefully). The question is, what are you waiting for? What will that acceptance or deny letter signify for you? Is graduate school your plan A or your plan B?
If you applied just in case you don’t get a full-time job, then grad school is your plan B.
If you are ready to start your career, don’t give up on the job search. Instead, invest in attending job fairs, networking events and if necessary a career coach. Learn how to perform an effective job search and spend your time looking for ways to enhance your skills. Even taking one class in a certain subject is cheaper and faster than committing to a degree.
The average graduate student loan debt has reached $57,600. Even if you took a job (or two) making $30,000 per year for two years you’d be further along than taking on almost $60k in debt. In that same two years by working you would be adding to your professional experience, building your network and learning other skills that can make you more marketable or prepare you for a promotion.
If you are working a full-time job you can even start to invest money in a retirement plan 2-3 years before you would if you were a full-time graduate student (start learning now about the power of compounding interest). Even if you can pay for your graduate degree without loans, if your plan A was to find a job then stick to your guns!
Don’t get caught in the trap of believing that if you can’t find a job with a bachelor’s degree that a master’s degree will open every door that was previously shut. It just doesn’t happen as often as you think.Almost always, experience trumps the degree. If a company is looking for candidates with a Bachelors degree with 5 years of experience, a master’s degree and 0 years of experience isn’t going to cut it. Also, your degree on the entry level won’t equate to more money. If the job is paying $42k, you will probably still only get $42k with your advanced degree – except now you your student loan payments are bigger.
If you applied to graduate school primarily because most of your classmates were doing it and followed the crowd, then graduate school is your plan B.
If you are just trying to delay joining the “real world” and student loan payments then graduate school is probably your plan B.
If you applied because you were tired of not having an answer when people ask, “so what are your plans after graduation” then grad school is your plan B.
In my senior year of college I too contemplated graduate school, law school, B-school and getting a job. Ultimately after graduation I got a job as a front desk receptionist at a gym for a few months. I knew I had a long career ahead and I just wanted to take it easy for a minute. Luckily, I had parents who didn’t charge me rent and indulged my brief “sabbatical”. By July I had my first professional job. I spent two years in college admissions gaining great professional experience, expanding my network, saving for retirement and understanding more about myself.
When I returned my attention to graduate school, my entire approach was different because I was different. My search was no longer driven by the US World News and Report rankings. My search became about being able to study and immerse myself in a subject area, advancing my skills and not going into ridiculous amounts of debt.
My strategy was no longer about which program might have the most name recognition, it became about where I actually wanted to live and relocate my life. Maryland was nowhere near my radar when I got out of undergrad. At that time I had dreams of moving to Boston (story for another time). But two years after graduation, Maryland was my destination of choice and became the place where I’d earn my degree, buy my first home, meet my husband and start a family.
Does everyone need a break between undergrad and grad school? No. Some people will plow right through without looking back. The way I did it is just one story amongst many. My path has led me here and your journey will take you to unexpected places personally, professionally and physically as well.
If going immediately to graduate, law, business or medical school is your plan A, then own that option (and try to not burden your future self with crippling student along the way). If graduate school is your plan B, don’t try to force it and realize that not going is perfectly ok and perhaps even more courageous.