To achieve greater success in recruiting and developing interns from HBCUs and PBIs, employers can partner with HBCUs and PBIs to host or sponsor social events and offer growth-minded feedback and professional mentorship.
These are among the “promising practices” that research reported in Recruiting for Equity at HBCUs and Beyond: Current Practices and Pitfalls revealed. Several of these promising practices are:
- Establish clear(-er) application requirements, deadlines, and desired qualifications—Improving expectations by clearly identifying application requirements, deadlines, and job requirements helps students know what is expected of them and increases the likelihood that they will submit a complete application. Study participants also mentioned adjusting their application and selection criteria by dropping GPA requirements, which resulted in a more diverse pool of applicants.
- Offer high-quality and high-touch onboarding, training, and coaching—Employers should provide interns with clear, written information about their job responsibilities, duties, and expectations related to standards, dress, company etiquette, and so forth as well as provide recruits with the support and resources they need to excel, e.g., equipment, dedicated workspace, introductions to key staff, and the like. Employers should also schedule regular check-ins, intern cohort huddles, and mid-point performance reviews, giving students a chance to course-correct where needed. Creating positive connections and setting up regular moments to check in, for example, is particularly important for some HBCU and PBI students interning in predominantly white companies where they may be one of a few.
- Offer growth-minded feedback and professional mentorship—In addition to their direct supervisor, HBCU and PBI interns benefit from positive and constructive feedback and mentorship from other company representatives, retirees, or HBCU and PBI alumni in the field. Mentors can provide guidance and support to help interns navigate the workplace, learn hands-on skills, and better envision themselves in the field of choice.
- Provide social opportunities and networking—Social activities (group lunches, team-building exercises) and group activities (attending sporting events, happy hours, and retreats together) can help college interns build relationships with co-workers, while giving them an opportunity to use their social skills in work settings. Companies might partner with HBCUs and PBIs to host or sponsor such events on campus or online as a recruitment tool, and incorporate “welcome buddies” and peer-intern mentors/ambassadors as a way of fostering inclusion and belonging. Interview participants reported that the intern’s sense of belonging could be enhanced when the buddies, mentors, and ambassadors were alumni of an HBCU or PBI.