The Homestretch Summer Internship Program started at Homestead.com in Menlo Park, CA as a pilot program in the summer of 2000. Homestead's desire was to create a program that reached out to East Palo Alto high school juniors and seniors who demonstrated desire to succeed in life. The focus was on creating meaningful work experiences in a professional, high tech environment for young people in Homestead's immediate community.
In our pilot run of the Homestretch Program, we hired 7 high school students for a 6-week program, and incorporated roughly 40 volunteers from within the company. All 7 graduated successfully and left the program with practical technical skills, summer pay, a scholarship for use toward higher education, and a computer to continue their use of technology in school and beyond. The total cost to the company was less than $30,000.
Our secondary objective was to produce an easily replicable program for companies with similar goals of helping young people down the "home stretch" of a critical juncture in their lives. It is our hope that every graduate of the Homestretch programs will choose to continue their education, become actively involved in their communities as responsible citizens, and that they will find greater access to career opportunities in high tech. It is our further hope that after reading this document companies will be convinced that whether they are 20 employees or 2,000 employees, they can create the same meaningful work experience for another young person in their community.
This report highlights 4 key topics: descriptions of all program participants; the process of getting the program started; descriptions of all program components; and our thoughts on the future of the Homestretch Program. Within each of these topics we discuss our thought process in creating the various components and provide a list of "key findings" in our experience with each topic. Finally, we include various appendix items both in the hardcopy of the report as well as on the report's Homestead web site which will include: workshop materials and sample workshop timeline, a sample program timeline, and a list of community resource contacts who are Homestretch supporters.
The program was developed with input from the management, including head of community services division, and the coordinator. A written program description was completed, identifying objectives, selection criteria, recruiting process, timeline, and daily activities as well as addressing other issues including compensation and transportation. Upper Management introduced the program through company wide meetings.
The Homestretch High School internship program is designed to accomplish a number of objectives. We want to:
· Provide high school juniors and seniors with a challenging, real work environment experience.
· Develop a more competent workforce by exposing these young people to the skills and competencies needed to be successful in the future.
· Provide young people with the opportunity to learn the habits, conditions and demands of the workplace
· Broaden the students understanding of the opportunities which exist in Silicon Valley.
· Motivate the students to pursue education beyond high school
Each intern had both direct experience within the departments of Homestead, and participated in daily workshops designed to provide them with skills and information to support their successful completion of high school. They were required to develop a final project which incorporated some of their newly acquired skills. There was value added to the company and all the individuals who participated in the internship program.
One of the most critical elements for the success of a high school internship program is the commitment on the part of the company management and employees. A written program description should also be developed and shared. The description should include objectives, selection criteria, recruiting process, and timeline. Others in the company must understand and share these objectives, as the interns become part of the team, which supports the growth of the company.
The Homestretch Summer High School Internship program serves to motivate and create an incentive for students to establish and pursue their academic and vocational goals. Students combining academics and career preparation will see the connection between school and their future. These students are more likely to stay in school when they see hope for their future.
Our program is designed to help them through that "homestretch" as they move towards completion of their high school education.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Section I - The Participants
2. Program Coordinator(s)
3. Volunteers: mentor, buddy, workshop leaders
Section II - Getting the Homestretch Program Started
1. Selection of Coordinator
2. Setting Expectations
4. Creating Internships
6. Job descriptions
8. Working with each department
9. Public Relations
Section III - Program Components
2. Events/ Outings
4. Workday Schedule
Section IV - Future of the Program
1. Impact on Interns
2. Impact on Mentors
3. Our Intent to Repeat
4. School-to-Career Partnership
6. Outreach to other companies
Section I - The Participants
Internship programs can be a rewarding experience for all those who participate. Interns gain valuable work experience, mentors acquire supervisory skills, and workshop leads gain both facilitation and public speaking experience. We will provide a general description of the major program participants and identify key findings associated with each.
1 - Interns
The Homestretch Summer Internship program was designed to work with high school juniors and seniors. We looked for students willing to make the commitment to fully participate in all aspects of the program. Our internship program seeks to enhance and reinforce both technical and academic skills of the students. Some criteria included; a grade point average of B or better, have a desire to go to a college or university. The interns needed to have some familiarity with computers, some knowledge of basic programs such as Word and some experience using the Internet. The students were solicited to match their skills with the job descriptions developed within the departments.
· Internship more relevant to juniors and seniors
· Selection criteria should be based on the job description which identified the qualities needed for the position
· All qualifications should be shared with the intern during the recruiting process
· Set to be achievable; keep in mind these are high school students who come with limited experience and training
2 - Program Coordinator(s)
The Program Coordinator(s) play a very important role in the overall success of the Internship program. In our case we had the head of community outreach, our Cultural Czar serving as co-program lead. He made a good complement to the coordination team, as he knew the company structure, knew who to contact, and has an established relationship with department leads and volunteers. He reported directly to senior management, and demonstrated commitment of management to the internship program.
The primary role is to manage the program, act as a liaison to the various departments affected by the program as well as maintaining consistent communication among all participants. The coordinator spearheads the initial recruitment, coordinates and conducts workshops, arranging all outings and events, oversees daily program operation, arranges and coordinates graduation. The coordinator arranges and monitors orientation and scheduled workshops ensuring learning opportunities for interns. The coordinator acts as the "point person" and is available to participants for any requested assistance. The coordinator is responsible for maintaining the quality of the internship program, and acts as the program spokesperson.
· This role requires an ability to clearly articulate the program concept to the company and sell the program to prospective volunteers.
· Knowledge of company culture is essential to crafting the right message to employees.
· The Program Coordinator (PC) should be seen as a leader in the company and report directly to senior management.
· PC facilitates contact with department leads.
· We found it valuable to have a contact person available on site on a daily basis for all involved in the program.
· PC will likely act as program spokesperson.
· PC must be prepared to facilitate workshops and presentations to interns; direct involvement in all aspects of the program keeps the PC connected with the interns.
· PC "owns" and is accountable for the program budget.
· Being flexible is essential! Working with volunteers is never simple because the unexpected always occurs. Working with departments is no different; deadlines change, meetings surface, and "code reds" occur. Adapting and rolling with such changes keeps the internship positive for everyone!
3 - Volunteers
Homestead is fortunate to already have a culture and a system for volunteering in place. Employees are in the habit of giving 2-3 hours per week to an on-going event or a full day/afternoon each month to a one-day event with teams of other Homestead employees. We also enjoy grouping employees in various ways to promote interaction within the company. A group of 30 employees was working together on developing a service project as the "Homestead Class of Q1 2000" (all employees who were hired between January1 and March 31). They were eager to each volunteer to take on a role of workshop leader, mentor, or buddy. Just because this group was already in place and thinking of ways to volunteer doesn't mean that every company must do the same.
We feel that the best way to generate support for a program is to give away ownership of various components. Employees begin to see themselves as the teacher on their assigned day of leading a workshop. They take time to develop their materials and presentation, and they have the opportunity to interact with the entire intern group. Mentors learned of the program, saw themselves as co-creators, collaborating with the program leads and developing the intern's job responsibilities. Buddies saw that they had a budget and flexibility in determining what kind of a buddy-intern relationship they would develop to achieve certain program goals as discussed early on.
The roles are defined below.
Mentors (one per intern)
· Develop intern's summer project/job responsibilities
· Develop a supervisor-employee relationship
· Ongoing management of intern's work
· Daily and/or weekly progress check-in meetings with intern for feedback
· Acts as a coach in the planning and implementation of work assignments
· Assisted in navigating the various systems within the company
· Advise, counsel, teach and model successful behaviors
Buddies (one per intern)
· Friend and Companion to the interns.
· Develop a relationship with the intern where intern can feel that they have a resource to answer questions from someone who is not their supervisor.
· We chose this person to be from another department. We determined that buddies are much more accessible if in the same department.
· Buddies invited their intern to lunch; took time to discuss the company, their role, and their views on the business; and made themselves available as a resource and friend.
· Acts as a resource for the intern, helping them learn the company culture and norms.
Workshop leaders (one or more per workshop as necessary)
· Taught one or more of various workshops during the internship program.
· Provided materials for workshops and further exploration by intern.
· Took time before workshop to prepare their presentation.
· Worked with program leads to coordinate workshop set-up/A-V needs.
· We enlisted the help of roughly 35 volunteers. This number will vary for your program, based on the number of interns hired and workshops presented.
· Recruiting volunteers for our program took approximately 2 weeks.
· We used 2 forums for recruiting volunteers: A "Class of Q1 2000" informational/recruiting meeting and a Homestead University (this was a short presentation, open to the entire company, on what the program was all about).
· Whenever possible, extend the invitation to all in the company; there are many hidden talents and many who are eager to work with young people if takes the time to ask.
· Mentors gained supervisory and management experience.
· All volunteers had an opportunity to enhance their communication skills.
· This experience provided an opportunity to make a difference by volunteering right in the employees' workplace. Outreach doesn't get much more convenient!
Section II - Getting the Homestretch Program Started
This section will describe those activities developed during the start up phase of the Homestretch Summer High School Internship Program. The Program Coordinator was responsible for most of these activities. This report is designed to serve as a guide to assist you in the development of a high school internship program. We encourage review and modification to meet the needs of your company's Homestretch Program.
1 - Selection of the Program Coordinator(s) (PC)
During the start-up phase of the Homestretch Summer High School Internship Program the PC worked closely with Homestead's Cultural Czar to develop the specifics of the program. The PC was familiar with the targeted community and was an experienced educator, having spent many years working directly with children and youth. The Cultural Czar worked closely with the PC throughout the internship program to support the program's incorporation into the company structure and culture. The PC worked to develop the specific program description, including the goals and objectives, and worked to oversee program implementation. (See the description of Program Coordinator in Section I for our recommendations of what knowledge and skills we feel to be integral to the role of PC.)
2 - Setting expectations
The PC, Cultural Czar, and CEO set the program expectations in the initial program development process. The expectations were kept realistic, taking into account the age, education and experience of the interns. These expectations and outcomes were outlined and used as a guide in developing the intern selection criteria. This information was shared with the company and interns during orientation.
· Expectations should be clearly written and articulated to all program participants.
· Establish expectations prior to onset of outreach efforts.
· Keep program expectations realistic; this program is for high school students, and it may be a first-time learning experience for you. Success will follow when a mentoring relationship is established. No one is expecting perfection - just an opportunity to learn.
3 - Timeline
This Homestretch High School Summer Internship program was designed as a "pilot program" and therefore operated on a relatively short timeline. The program coordinator worked for a month prior to the program's launch. This "start-up" phase of the project was used to develop the specific program components (see the "Program Components" section for a full description).
Interns were placed for a six-week period, beginning July 17 and ending August 28. The timeline included special events and outings, workshops, and a graduation celebration. A daily schedule was developed and provided to the interns and department personnel at the beginning of the program. We feel that a summer internship program can optimally operate for 6 to 10 weeks during the interns' summer vacation. Students are eager to begin employment and are available immediately following the close of the school year. The timeline should be established to allow for a start - up phase, and outreach to occur prior to interview of students.
· The PC should be selected at least 60 days prior to the program start date
· Establish program start and ending dates prior to doing outreach
· Timeline should include start-up phase to allow for the development of a specific outreach plan, assist in the development of job descriptions, establish a calendar and participate in company orientation.
· Interview interns prior to school term ending
· Program start shortly following the close of school year, students should be
· Program should operate 6 to 10 weeks
· Written schedule be developed and distributed to interns, mentors and department heads
· Preliminary schedule should be developed during "start - up" phase and include special event days, and outings. This will help with scheduling for the interns and the departments.
· This is uniquely a summer program because of the freedom vacation offers students in being at the internship for a full day.
4 - Creating the Internship Position
Accompanied by the Homestead Cultural Czar, the PC met with all department heads to outline the general program. We shared the specifics of the program, such as program objectives, selection criteria, and program timeline. We emphasized the need to develop "meaningful" work for the interns. We stressed the importance of interns "adding value" to the departments. During this meeting we identified roles and responsibilities of the department personnel and explained the roles of PC and other contact personnel. We allowed time for department heads to communicate with their department personnel to determine their needs and identify tasks and required skills for the intern. This enabled the PC to develop a strategy for interviewing with full knowledge of specific department needs.
· Program should have full support from management.
· Meet with department heads to provide general description of the internship program, including departmental requirements.
· Give each department lead the option of determining the need for an intern. The goal is to add value to the department and the intern - not force an intern into an unnecessary role.
· Allow 2 weeks for departments to consider and develop job descriptions
· Provide any requested assistance with development of job descriptions Assistance can be provided by the coordinator of HR department
· Write up a general overview of the program including program components, expectations, objectives, selection criteria, and timeline for distribution to all program participants. The better informed your program participants are, the more likely they are to have a good experience and volunteer in the future.
5 - Developing Job Descriptions
Once the decision to have an intern was made within the department, a job description was developed. The job description included a general description of the position, the qualifications, and the responsibilities of the internship position. The written descriptions were forwarded from each department to the PC for review and modification. Once finalized, this description became the PC's recruiting tool.
· Development of job descriptions should be an inclusive process. There should be input from the department personnel, as the intern will be working as part of their team.
· Job description should clearly identify the anticipated tasks and basic skills needed.
· They should also be written in a clear, concise manner, as it will be shared with the potential interns.
6 - Outreach
Outreach was done through contact with community-based agencies that work with high school students. Other agencies, which can serve as outreach vehicles, include youth centers, schools, and churches. The PC arranged for a meeting with the agency directors to inform them of the program and it's requirements, the job descriptions, and selection criteria. The program staff and directors made referrals. After receiving the referrals, contact was made with the candidates either through the agency staff or directly.
· Identify network of community-based organizations to focus recruiting efforts.
· Solicit referrals from program staff, teachers, etc.
· Conduct outreach through schools, churches, and youth programs.
· Share/ post the written job descriptions on agency bulletin boards, and other places within the community where young people have a presence
· Provide a short company profile to share with perspective interns
· List a contact person and provide a number for any follow up questions
· Have clear selection criteria outlined as part of the job description
· Intern pool should make available at a minimum, two candidates for each position
7 - The Interviewing Process
The PC conducted the interviews with the intern candidates at a time and place convenient for the interns. This interview was used to create a preliminary pool of candidates. During the interview the PC shared the job descriptions and program expectations, requirements and timeline.
The interview included questions about grade, overall academic performance, goals, extra curricular activities, and plans for the summer, which might prevent full participation in the internship program. The PC provided information about the company, the goals of the internship program, and logistical information (such as public transportation). Additionally, the PC took time to address any questions raised by the student.
After reviewing the job descriptions, each student selected two positions they would like to be interviewed for. The PC then arranged for on-site interviews with department leads. Each department coordinated their interview team.
· The PC initially arranged first-round interviews to identify a pool of qualified interns. The idea was to make available - at minimum - two qualified candidates for each position sought. We felt it important to give department leads a choice in who their intern would be.
· Conduct interviews early, prior to the start of school vacation. By summer, many students have interviewed for other jobs. Be among the first to recruit so your options are greater.
· Allow all candidates to review all job descriptions.
· Present clear explanations of roles and responsibilities to the interns.
· Include coordinator, department leads and mentor in the process. Coordinator conduct preliminary screening. Candidates are referred to the department lead. Department leads make the decision with the mentor-to-be as to who will interview the intern.
· Be sensitive to staff time; arrange interview to convenience of staff, and limit the number of referrals to identified positions.
· Refer only those candidates who meet the minimum department requirements.
· Allow feedback from the department prior to placement.
· Screening should include a review of grades, using report cards or other documentation.
· Request references from school and community (ask students' teachers, program directors, and volunteers from their training programs).
· Contact the interns as soon as the department makes a decision.
· Inform interns of required documentation needed to complete the company's formal application process (Social Security Card, birth certificate, driver's license).
8 - Working with each department
Just as the internship program is strengthened with help from numerous volunteers, it is also strengthened when it is supported from all levels of management and by different departments. We specifically worked with Human Resources, Systems, Administration, Finance, and management from each department fielding an intern for the summer.
· Handles payroll set-up
· Provides all necessary employment documentation
· Assists with orientation to office and policies
Systems (IS Dept.)
· Ensures that all intern workstations are set up and ready on day 1
· Assists with donated laptops (set-up, specs, etc.)
· Troubleshoots technical problems throughout program (the interns were an added load for them, and we wanted to be sensitive to their schedules)
· Sets up and/or orders furniture for interns' work areas
· Sets up phones
· Provides necessary office supplies
· Assists PC and CEO in determining budget for program
· Handles all reimbursements
· Co-develops role for their intern
· Selects one of their team's employees to become a mentor (the ultimate selection was not from the "Class of Q1 2000" but from the department lead, based on management experience, ability to train, ability to mentor, and potential to provide a valuable contribution to the summer program.)
· Is a point of contact throughout the program for feedback when adjustments are necessary.
· Begin with the department leads and develop buy-in/ownership of the idea of having an intern work for their group. Presenting this as optional tends to keep department leads open-minded.
· Discuss candidly what the program expectations are.
· Likewise, discuss concerns department leads may have about the program and their team's involvement.
· We found that dept. leads saw this as an opportunity for some of their employees to get a "training wheels" experience in management by taking on an intern for the summer. We stressed that we were looking for quality in management as part of our expectation for the program.
· Inform the department leads of HR, Systems, Administration, and Finance EARLY of the program and its goals. They appreciated the time they had to prepare. This kind of program could be viewed as just another added burden to their already-packed jobs, but we found that when the expectations were set well, and when they saw that they had the chance to get their group involved in a meaningful project that will benefit the community, they were happy to help as long as they had time to prepare.
9 - Public Relations
It is up to the company to decide if there will be internal and/or external publicity about the program. The Public Relations department should be incorporated into this process to best benefit from their expertise and media contacts. Once a strategy has been developed, program participants should be notified and any plans should be shared with them as early as possible. They should be made aware of the times and what type of coverage they should anticipate. Interns should be given release forms to be signed by their parents, as they are minors. Whenever possible, a member of the PR team should accompany any media personnel during interviews. The PR team should conduct a session for the interns to share any developed "program message" and provide them with tips on how to interact with the media. This should occur prior to any media contact. The PR team may wish to be involved in the graduation and other noteworthy events.
· PR team should be informed of the program, prior to the start
· Allow professional staff to organize PR strategy
· Inform all program participants PR strategy
· Schedule a PR training session for interns
· Incorporate PR activities into the schedule
· PR team should accompany media.
· Allow interns to forgo media coverage if uncomfortable
10 - Need for Flexibility
Having program components fully developed does not negate the need for flexibility. Adjustments should be made as situations change during the course of program operation. The PC should be prepared to cover a workshop when needed and be prepared to make changes in the schedule when appropriate. Outings and events, especially those that go beyond the normal workday schedule, should be adjusted depending on the desires and availability of the interns, mentors and buddies.
· Anticipate the need for adjustments; due to scheduling changes adjustments may need to be made. We rearranged workshop presentations in response to unforeseen changes
· Inform everyone of changes as soon as possible
· Respond positively to change
Section III - Program Components
This section will identify the specific components of the Homestretch Summer High School Internship program. These components are not mandatory; each company is encouraged to make modifications to meet their Homestretch program's goals and needs.
1 - Intern Orientation
Our orientation occurred the first full day the interns started. We spent the entire day providing the interns with an overview of the company and the Internship program. The orientation was designed to provide interns with an understanding of the goals of the internship program, an overview of the organizational structure, and an explanation of the role of mentors and buddies. During this time we also developed a process for selection of the buddy. We addressed issues and concerns of interns, answered questions, and provided transportation information. During orientation interns complete company application forms, which were subsequently returned to the HR department.
· Orientation is conducted on the first day of the program and may spill into the next day or two, depending on your program.
· Orientation should include an overview of the company and an overview of internship program, including expectations and organizational structure.
· Use this time to have the interns complete the formal job application
· Identify roles of internship staff (supervisors, mentors, etc.) to the interns.
· You may wish to incorporate HR into the process - new staff orientation, for example.
· Inform interns of documentation needs prior to orientation.
· Conduct orientation on site, and include a tour of the facility.
· Allow plenty of time for questions.
· Make this a fun learning time for you, too. Take time to get to know the interns better and share your own hopes for the program.
2 - Workday Schedule
Interns were required to work an 8-hour day. They went directly to their departments and did a "check in " via email to the coordinator. The lunches and breaks were incorporated into their daily schedule and arranged within the department. Their daily schedule included attending workshops, team meetings and company- wide lunches. Their mentor, who supervised the daily work, gave the interns their specific assignments.
· Child labor laws limit those under 18 to an 8-hour workday. Check with HR department for specific age limitations.
· Schedule should be based on the needs of the department.
· The intern's schedule should include a minimum 30-minute lunch break. Labor laws also mandate breaks in the morning and afternoon.
· Incorporate workshops into overall daily schedule.
We encouraged at minimum a weekly one-on-one meeting between intern and mentor. Some pairs found it necessary to hold daily check-ins for clarification and assignment of further responsibilities.
3 - Workshops
Our internship program requires that interns participate in daily workshops. Our objective in offering workshops was to provide a mix of job skills training and practical life skills for use in a professional environment. (See appendix for suggested list of workshop topics.) The workshops covered both technical and soft skills and were designed to be interactive, covering topics such as: PowerPoint, Excel, finding the right school, applying for college, finding scholarships, SAT / PSAT information, essay writing and interviewing techniques, conflict resolution and "demystifying the dot com."
Our workshops were originally scheduled during the afternoon hours and were conducted daily. After the mid program review with the mentors we modified the schedule and held the workshops at the start of the day. Workshops conducted during the morning hours allowed for better continuity of the workday and proved more efficient for the departments. The workshops were an hour to an hour and a half in length. Volunteer Homestead employees, including middle and upper management, volunteered to lead nearly every workshop (where they did not, the PC filled in). All departments were invited to present a brief overview of their department's function, providing the interns with a complete overview of the components of the company. The facilitators prepared all workshop instructional materials, and copies were provided and maintained by the PC. Some of the workshops included assignments, and facilitators made themselves available for follow-up.
· Attendance at all workshops is a mandatory component of the internship.
· If the topic was skill-based, it was presented during the first two weeks of the program.
· Workshops were scheduled for a consistent location and time daily.
· We chose to organize the topics around themes relevant to the interns.
· We recommend holding the workshops during morning hours because interns are most alert at this time of day, and it allows for greater flexibility in their work schedule.
· If written materials are needed, they should be prepared prior to the workshop presentation. The PC asked for these materials for review before the workshop was given as a means to ensure quality.
· Use your own free, internal resources - employee volunteers - to facilitate the workshops.
· Use outside authorities on topics if there are specific topics, which need to be presented. There is a great deal of room for flexibility and creativity in designing the workshops.
· Equipment needs should be identified early and communicated to the PC. The PC will work with the appropriate departments to ensure the presentation venue is set up.
· Facilitators should be available to interns for follow-up via e-mail or phone. We found that interns often had further questions after the workshop.
4 - Events/Outings
We had two events/outings, which were designed for the interns and buddies. It was our hope that these events would facilitate the bond/ friendship between mentors and buddies and their interns. We involved the interns and buddies in teambuilding activities: a "ropes course" and an overnight camping trip in Half Moon Bay with horseback riding on the beach. The ropes course creates experiential learning situations, which promote an increased sense of confidence and appreciation for the effectiveness a team can create. Our objective was to "stretch" the interns and create an opportunity for them to amaze themselves and learn a little more about their undiscovered potential within. The second event was an overnight camping trip in Half Moon Bay. This event also included horseback riding. The camping experience was very valuable as the setting was more conducive for informal interaction among interns and mentors and buddies.
We fully recognize that this does not sound like a likely component to a traditional internship program. It was our hope from the beginning that the Homestretch Program would be more to the interns than simply a work experience. The interns that we attract will likely have been deprived of opportunities to do these types of experiential learning activities, and we've seen great benefit to our own employees as we do team and personal development training in such venues.
· Each of these events in your Homestretch program is optional. However, we recommend them highly. · They occur with mentors and buddies, and we encouraged all of them to participate.
· These activities focus on teambuilding activities.
· Teambuilding activities should be scheduled and announced early in the program for planning and reservation purposes.
· If possible, have the activities occur off-site.
· Brainstorm potential events for group participation in the early planning stages; can include a group lunch or dinner.
· Be sure to budget funds for individual mentor/intern lunches.
· In the future we will have an overnight activity occur as the first event since it seemed to bring interns closer to their mentors and buddies quite effectively. This type of social bonding is a wonderful way to set the tone of the mentor/buddy/intern relationships for the rest of the program.
5 - Graduation
We planned a celebration for the end of the summer internship program. We wanted to give recognition to all those involved in the program. The graduation was scheduled during work hours to enable other employees to attend. The interns were featured and required to prepare a project to present at the celebration. Their project was to highlight some of the new skills they acquired during the internship and give them a chance to share their future plans. The projects were presented in PowerPoint and through the creation of a Homestead web site. Interns were encouraged to invite family and friends to the graduation. All mentor, department heads and buddies were invited and acknowledged during the graduation.
· Recognition and celebration at the program completion is important. After so much effort has been put into making this program succeed, it is important to acknowledge that an impact has been made in the community by many people's efforts. Even if the program wasn't the amazing experience you envisioned, many positive outcomes resulted from the effort, and that should be celebrated.
· Graduation does not have to be formal. However, we chose to invite all employees and local media to show the interns the importance of their accomplishment, the value we place on it, and the support they have from our company community.
· We felt it important to include and recognize the mentors and buddies in the graduation ceremony. Their part in the ceremony was small, but it was appropriate since they had developed a special relationship with the interns.
· The PR team proved pivotal in setting up and staging an appropriate forum for the media to capture the intern presentations.
· Planning the graduation ceremony with the interns gave them ownership of the presentation forum and reduced their stress over presenting to such a large crowd. In most cases, this was a first-time experience with such an important presentation. We took time to conduct a small workshop on presentations skills and to practice.
· We scheduled graduation prior to the program start to ensure a large turnout from our employees. We wanted to the interns to know that they were supported and known by more employees than just their mentors and buddies.
· We opened the graduation to family and friends of the interns. We know that the interns also had the support of their families to help them succeed in the Homestretch Program. We feel the support of family and friends should be acknowledged by an invitation to the ceremony.
· Requiring a final project like the presentations reinforces that the internship is a learning experience. Receipt of their scholarship was based in part on the successful completion of these final presentations.
6 - Compensation/ Incentives
How you decide to compensate your interns is up to you. Our decision was to pay a semi-monthly salary to the interns; we wanted to send the message that we valued their work. We also wanted them to have as realistic of a professional experience at Homestead and feel like an employee of the company.
We incorporated additional compensation into the Homestretch Program to send a strong message that we value higher education and that technology plays an integral role in our society. We awarded each intern with a scholarship for post-high school education and training. Successful completion of the Homestretch Program entailed: meeting their personal department goals, attending all workshops, having an exemplary attendance record, and making a final presentation to the company. Our Homestretch Program has established a partnership with a computer provider who has made a commitment to providing a computer to the graduates of our Homestretch Summer Internship Program. For this pilot run, each intern received a computer and printer for home use. Interns were also provided with additional company brand items such as vests, hats, etc.
· Interns should be compensated for their work.
· Compensation information is kept confidential.
· Including interns in the company's payroll process keeps their work experience realistic. Their pay schedule was aligned with the company's normal pay period.
· Special incentives such as scholarships, gifts, and computers and printers are optional.
7 - Program Evaluation
We wanted to be flexible and make changes in this first run of our program if the mentors, department leads, and workshop leaders felt it was necessary. Our principle goals were to create a quality experience for the interns as well as the Homestead employees who were graciously giving their time. We committed to shift with any changing needs of the departments. We met once with the mentors mid-way through the internship program and are currently collecting feedback from them and department leads to determine changes for the next program run.
· We set up a one-hour lunch meeting with the mentors after week 3 of the 6-week program. We were sensitive to mentors' time being tight as their new role as mentor made their already full schedules even fuller.
· We found that mentors shared candidly when we invited open discussion on success stories as well as suggestions for changes in the program.
· After this meeting, we decided to lengthen the next program an additional 2 weeks to allow for more pre-internship training. Mentors found that a few days in workshops on specific computer applications would have made the time to productivity much shorter.
· Checking in with the mentors and asking for their feedback is a good way to keep mentors involved in the creation of and subsequent ownership of the program. Continued contact/check-ins keep program leads close to the pulse of the program. It also gave us insight into the interns' performance. If mentors were experiencing any problems, we wanted them to feel that they could depend on program leads for support. We felt it was the role of the program lead to ensure a high level of performance from each intern.
· Bringing the program to a close, we felt it necessary to again invite feedback from mentors once they had a week to reflect on: how the program helped their department/team; how they would change the experience for the next group of mentors; and how programmatic changes could set mentors, interns, workshop leaders, and buddies up for greater success.
8 - Communication (liaisons, mailing lists, scheduling shifts, etc.)
It is important to establish a communication mechanism for the interns, mentors and volunteers. The coordinator serves as a liaison between all individuals. We found email the most efficient method. Interns checked in with the PC daily via email. We found that by keeping in touch with all the participants, our program ran smoothly. Our computer support team set up a series of group mailing lists to create a more efficient communication system.
Interns were encouraged to communicate directly with mentors on scheduling issues and specific work assignment issues. A weekly "one-on-one" was scheduled with mentors and interns. Program issues, logistics, and other issues were directed to the coordinator. The PC should schedule mid-program check-in and be available to address issues. Additionally, the PC should have informal discussion with interns weekly, and when possible, do a daily check-in. Any program changes should be communicated to anyone directly affected.
· Establish communication mechanism early, based on your company's culture.
· Set up and share mailing lists (email) at the program outset. Exchange of information will be rapid at the beginning of your program, and interns will likely need to send you requests, and you will likely find yourself communicating with all interns, all mentors, all involved department leads, all buddies, or a combination of any of the above relative to schedule shifts.
· Schedule a regular check-in for interns. Mentors should be establishing this with their interns from the beginning. In our case, the PC also chose to have daily interaction with the interns in some manner. It began as journals kept by interns to answer questions about themselves for personal exploration (What are your goals in life? What are your greatest fears? Accomplishments? Strengths? etc.). Eventually, journals turned into daily e-mail check-ins. We found both to be extremely helpful in understanding how the interns were getting along in their positions.
· Buddies should be available to facilitate communication between intern and mentor (when needed).
· We recommend that the PC schedule check-ins with mentors and buddies to keep abreast at least every couple of weeks of how mentors and buddies are getting along with their interns. Keeping a constant flow of information reduces the number of surprises and makes for a healthier program, able to adjust when necessary.
9 - Budget
The budget was developed by the PC and approved by the CEO and CFO prior to the start of the program. The budget reflected all anticipated costs, including: salary, lunches, events, outings, equipment, gifts, scholarships and other expenses. The PC was accountable for staying within budget.
· The budget is ideally co-developed by the PC and CEO (or the senior management accountable for the internship program).
· We planned for 2 meals between mentors/buddies and their interns. These meals are program-sponsored.
· The number of interns we took on determined the budget numbers.
· The PC found it helpful to review the budget vs. actual numbers mid-program.
Section IV - Future of the Program
The Homestretch Summer High School Program served as a pilot program this first year. The feedback we've received from those who participated has been extremely positive. The interns felt they gained valuable skills and experience and are looking forward to participating in the program in the future. The PC received requests during the program from both high school students and Program Directors inquiring about future internship opportunities. It is our hope that this program will grow not only within Homestead, but we hope other companies will create Homestretch Programs of their own.
1 - Impact on the Interns
In addition to learning the skills they need to accomplish the project at hand, the interns learned skills that are applicable to a broad range of jobs. This experience encouraged them to think about their future education and career plans. They developed a sense of self-worth and confidence in their ability to learn and work in a professional environment. They were able to expand their horizons by seeing what work looks like and in turn begin to see themselves working successfully within an organization or company.
· We target juniors and seniors in high school for our internship positions. Our particular interest is reaching students at one of the most critical junctures of their lives relative to making lifelong decisions about education, family, and their career potential.
· Increased self-confidence just by being a part of a professional organization
· Acquired new technical skills
· Developed new inter-personal skills
· Gained a first-hand understanding of teamwork
· Experienced a real example of a positive work environment
· Learned how to manage their time
· Added value to the company
· Brought creative and fresh ideas to their groups
2 - Impact on Mentors and other Volunteers
Through their voluntary participation in the internship program mentors and other volunteers gain as well. They acquire supervisory experience as well as enhance their communication and facilitation skills. They are provided with an opportunity to interact with young people and make a contribution to their growth and development through information and skill training. Moreover, employees see the example set by your company of how business can do well while making a contribution and bettering the community. A company that is viewed positively by its employees stands to gain much.
· Enhanced their public speaking/facilitation skills
· Improved their time management and organizational skills
· Developed supervisory skills
· Benefited from direct interaction with young people
3 - Our Desire to Repeat
The Homestretch Summer Internship Program had many successes as witnessed by both the interns and our employee program participants. We will repeat the program again in the summer of 2001 and possibly before that with the creation of a pilot Winter Homestretch Internship Program. We hope to expand the opportunities for internships to additional departments within our company. We will continue to focus our efforts on East Palo Alto, and look to extend the same opportunities to high school students of the Menlo Park and Redwood City areas.
4 - School-to-Career Component (school credit)
We have approached the San Mateo County Office of Education to review our program and consider incorporating it as part of their school to career partnership. This is designed to bring employers, schools, and students together in an alliance for young people to explore career options and apply class curriculum in a real work environment, giving the student academic credit toward graduation.
5 - Partnerships (donated hardware, training space, feeder programs, etc.)
We will work to create partnerships with companies that can provide donated hardware and other resources to the interns. We will work to identify, assess, and establish partnerships with community-based agencies serving high school students in the Menlo Park-Bell Haven neighborhood, Redwood City-Fair Oaks neighborhood, and in East Palo Alto. These feeder agencies can increase the opportunity for volunteerism and mentorship for company employees, and they can serve as a vehicle for recruiting interns.
6 - Outreach to other companies through the Entrepreneurs' Foundation and the PUSH Program
It is our intention to use the Homestretch Summer High School Internship Program as a model for other companies. We will be working through the Entrepreneurs' Foundation and Operation PUSH to network with other companies in Silicon Valley. We believe our program is unique in that it combines both hard and soft skills. We provide information and encourage the interns to pursue college through workshops that focus on college preparation. Homestead has a strong commitment to assessing more opportunities for young people and is committed to increasing those opportunities in other companies. Please join us!