Building Talent Pipelines Through High School Internships

June 27, 2024

Stories

Houston

Author | Wendy Brooks, Senior Manager, Corporate Partnerships

 

 

In the competitive landscape of today’s business world, cultivating a skilled workforce is essential. Compared with college internship programs, high school internships are becoming a more strategic approach to enhance workforce readiness among youth and provide businesses early access to talented, enthusiastic individuals. A prime example of this success is the partnership between a global real estate investment management firm, and Genesys Works Houston, which has been running for 18 years, demonstrating the significant benefits of such collaborations. 

High School Internships as a Talent Pipeline Strategy

For students, especially from under-resourced communities, high school internships are crucial gateways to the professional world, marking their first exposure to a formal business environment. These opportunities allow students to apply academic knowledge in real-world scenarios, gaining skills and insights that are essential for their future careers. This early exposure helps them in making informed career choices, developing professional networks, and building confidence.

From a business standpoint, these internships are a pathway to identify and nurture potential future employees, filling short-term resource needs while also evaluating and shaping these young minds for future roles. Additionally, a commitment to youth development enhances a company’s social responsibility and forward-thinking brand image.

A talent pipeline is essentially a pool of candidates prepped and ready to fill key roles within an organization as they become available. In the context of strategic HR management, developing a robust talent pipeline is paramount for ensuring business continuity and competitive advantage. High school internships are an innovative and proactive approach to fuel this pipeline.

The strategic benefits of having high school internships serve as a strategic HR management tool, essential for ensuring business continuity and competitive advantage:

  •  Early Talent Identification: Businesses can spot and cultivate talent early, reducing the time and cost associated with recruiting new hires.
  •  Skill Alignment: Companies have the opportunity to mold interns’ skills directly relevant to their operational needs, ensuring a smoother transition into full-time roles.
  • Engagement and Retention: Interns who transition into full-time roles are likely to feel a stronger allegiance to the company, fostering higher engagement and retention rates.

For nearly two decades, this leader in real estate investment management, has been at the forefront of integrating high school internships into its talent management strategy. This longstanding relationship not only highlights the commitment of the real estate firm to youth development but also showcases the tangible benefits of such programs.

Program Overview: Since 2006, the firm has successfully integrated 63 high school internships into its strategic talent management framework. Many of these interns from earlier cohorts are now aged 25-30, a group that plays a crucial role in the U.S. employment market and holds significant importance within companies across various industries. This enduring collaboration not only underscores their commitment to youth development but also demonstrates the tangible benefits of such initiatives. Currently, the firm employs 9 former Genesys Works interns as long-term employees across various departments, from Accounting and IT to Operations. This group includes 6 full-time employees and 3 contractors, showcasing the program’s effectiveness in fostering career development and retaining talent.

 Impact and Metrics:

  • Intern Development: The majority of our interns not only stay at the firm throughout their High School senior year, college years, working on a contract basis, but also transition into full-time roles upon completing their education. This speaks volumes about the commitment and satisfaction of our interns.
  • Company Benefits: Reports demonstrate increased innovation and fresh perspectives brought into their projects through these young interns. Furthermore, the energy and enthusiasm of young talents have been noted to invigorate existing teams, enhancing overall productivity.
  • Retention and Advancement: Data suggests that our former interns often exhibit high retention rates within the company. Moreover, a notable number of these individuals have progressed into junior leadership positions, underscoring the importance and benefits of investing in and cultivating young talent. A Senior Analyst from the investment management firm and a former Genesys Works intern, shared how the company welcomes and supports each class of interns. She highlighted the nurturing and supportive environment which is crucial for encouraging interns to fully realize their potential in the workplace, establish deep roots within the organization, and envision their future careers. “I organize pizza parties and ice cream socials for all current and former Genesys Works interns,” Grace Rivera, the analyst explained. “These gatherings allow them to connect, discuss their roles, explore potential career paths, and understand the company culture. All the interns appreciate these events—they feel they have a network of alumni to turn to if they face any challenges. Moreover, the former interns, now employees, cherish the opportunity to coach and mentor their program brothers and sisters.”
 
Lisa Eibsen, pictured at the 2023 Ambassadors Luncheon

Lisa Eibsen, Senior Manager – Compliance from the firm, has provided internships or mentored 16 of the Genesys internships, and shares her perspective on the program’s impact: “The Genesys Works high school internship program has significantly shaped our firm’s approach to talent development and hiring. By providing opportunities for high school interns to work and learn within our company, we’ve been able to identify and nurture talented individuals from diverse backgrounds early in their careers. Many of these interns have become invaluable members of our workforce, enhancing diversity and introducing new skills and perspectives. This strategy not only helps in building a more inclusive workplace but also secures a sustainable pipeline of diverse talent for the future.”

This case study exemplifies how structured internship programs like can serve as critical pathways for developing skilled and diverse professionals, ultimately benefiting both the individuals involved and the organization at large.

The Future of High School Internships

As the business world evolves and the competition for skilled labor intensifies, high school internships are expected to grow into an even more critical role. These programs are expected to expand not only in number but also in scope, adapting to new industries and technologies. Businesses that invest in these programs are likely to see considerable benefits in terms of innovation, employee loyalty, and market competitiveness.

Conclusion

High school internships are a powerful tool for both educational and business institutions, providing early career exposure for students and helping businesses cultivate a future-ready workforce. This partnership exemplifies how structured internship programs can develop skilled and diverse professionals, benefiting both the individuals involved and the organizations they join. As businesses look to the future, investing in these programs will be crucial for sustaining innovation and achieving long-term success.

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