HP Steps Up Fixing The Intern Problem

One of the practices that have really suffered during this Pandemic is the use of Interns.  People largely shifting to working from home both the practicality and the utility of using interns has dropped off a cliff.  Yet Internships is how companies get young adults interested in working for them or even in their industries, and Internships better prepare young adults for a career.  Outside of technical schools, high schools and universities do very little to prepare students for the jobs they will later hold.  They gain a lot of knowledge, but learning practical skills (like how to manage an expense account or even act at work) are generally omitted.  This shortfall is where the Internship comes in, it helps transition a student into the workforce, and it also helps a student choose the industry and company where they will eventually work.  

Now Internships themselves can be very uneven, ranging from experiences where the Intern is well mentored to instances where they are used more like indentured personal servants, and often the jobs aren’t paid positions.  Like any system, there is often abuse, but even for well-managed programs when most everyone is working from home, mentoring becomes problematic.  

In the face of this problem, HP has rolled out its Summer Scholar program, which, while not as operational as some internship programs were, it appears far more consistent, making the resulting certificate potentially more valuable than a generic Internship might be.  

Let’s talk about HP’s Summer Scholar program this week.

HP Summer Scholar Program

This program was brought to my attention by Tracy Keogh, who I believe remains one of the most qualified HR Officers in the industry.  She, and her team, recognized that Interns were getting ignored during this Pandemic event.  While they recognized that a regular Internship program probably wouldn’t work, if they could roll out a distance learning solution that covered many of the same bases, it might work as well or better.  Besides, it might be far safer for both the HP staff and the Intern because a distance learning program has Social Distancing as one of the benefits.  

The HP Summer Scholar Program is an unpaid program that goes from June through July (about six-weeks).  The courses help the students both explore HP’s core business areas for understanding and interest. These are areas like 3D Printing, regular printing, PCs, video gaming, data analytics, supply chain, and sales.  

The people teaching the classes are HP’s top leaders who not only will be providing deep dives into the areas they are covering, they form a basis of contacts the students should be able to leverage as potential mentors and references. Connections are often one of the essential parts of an Internship program because they can provide, mainly if they are executives, assistance in gaining future employment with the company.  

The program takes the students through potential future career paths in areas like product management, engineering, marketing, sales, and data science.  And, like Interns, they will be able to work on real company projects so that they gain real-life experiences and their teachers gain an understanding of the students’ capabilities.  These real-time experiences surround things like helping determine future product and service road maps.  

One track of the program deals with the critical aspects of a new job that few schools teach.  These skills include interviewing, building a personal brand, and storytelling.  These skills, which are essential to success, are often learned on the job and too late to save what otherwise might have been a successful employee.  The program is open to anyone with at least one year of university schooling under their belt and, when complete, students receive a certificate, like a diploma, as an HP Summer Scholar.  

Wrapping Up:

Internships are almost impossible to do while most workers are working from home. They are taking someone that is remote and hasn’t yet developed good business skills, and mentoring them to success while small and still trying to do your day job just isn’t very viable. But a distance learning program that is specifically designed and staffed to do the job can, and HP is demonstrating that it does.  It is programs like this that will help ensure the next wave of workers is ready for what is to come, and HP’s Summer Scholar program sets a strong example as to how companies should develop their new employee supply chain in the face of this Pandemic.