Having access to a college internship can make the difference between getting a job upon graduation and not getting one. Internship experience can also help with getting a higher starting salary. Unfortunately African American and Latinx students have fewer opportunities for internships. According to a 2020 study by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), students of color are less likely than their white peers to received paid internships. More specifically, the study found that Black and Latinx students account for less than 16% of paid internships and roughly 17% of unpaid internships despite making up a significant percentage of the candidates in the internship pool.
In order to counter this trend, Adobe is launching a new internship program focused on student athletes at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs). Why athletes? Because student athletes are committed to their sport, they often have to forego summer internships to focus on training. This decision can have a negative impact on their ability to find a job once they graduate.
Typically Adobe hosts over 1000 interns a year, and these individuals are considered critical to future talent in the organization. The HBCU/HSI-focused internship program is called the Student Athlete Micro Internship (SAMI) and is designed to provide career growth opportunities to underrepresented student athletes. SAMI is an extension of Adobe’s previously announced partnerships with HBCUs and HSIs, in which the company donated $1M each to Bowie State University, Winston-Salem State University, and San Jose University to provide their students with training, career readiness, financial assistance, and digital tools to fuel their professional careers. Much like many corporations around the country, Adobe’s work related to HBCUs and HSIs was born out a comprehensive response to the murder of George Floyd.
According to Kenneth Imo, Global Head of Diversity & Inclusion at Adobe, “Our summer internship program has always been at the heart of Adobe’s culture of innovation. As a former college football player myself, I’m excited to welcome a new cohort of student athletes from HBCUs and HSIs to Adobe, where they’ll be exposed to career opportunities in tech and get to experience all the industry-disrupting innovations that we have to offer.”
The beauty of SAMI is that it designed as a condensed internship experience — which accommodates the student athletes’ schedules. The student athletes this year will be tasked with supporting several strategic businesses within Adobe, including Sales, Global Marketing and Strategy, and Employee Experience teams. They will also get real-time, hands-on experience. For example, they will be planning and executing sports marketing campaigns to drive brand awareness. In addition to their day-to-day work, Adobe will provide interns with professional development training to grow their soft skills, such as how to network effectively, discover their “superpower” at work, build their own personal brand, and even practical skills such as building and maintaining LinkedIn profiles to get noticed by recruiters.
According to Jessica Holmes, Director of Adobe’s Sales Academy, “Student athletes have learned in their athletic career how to handle pressure, quickly apply feedback, and overcome obstacles and disappointments while working towards individual and team goals.” She added, “A career in sales is very similar. It takes perseverance and relentless focus on the end goal while being knocked down time and time again.”
Adobe collaborated with coaches to develop the internship program. Imo shared that coaches are “already aware that their athletes have impeccable work ethic, genuine drive to win and are team player, but this internship program allows them to further build those muscles in a completely new environment.”
HBCUs and HSIs, from Adobe’s perspective, are educating students that represent the future of the nation, and that these students will make up the next generation of leaders.