Is your leadership pipeline missing out on Latino recruits? The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities program identifies and trains Latino students who become corporate interns and valued employees.
When senior tax consultant Juan Betancourt first came to the United States from Colombia, he knew his only option for success was to graduate college: "I knew it would be hard for my father to afford college, so I came to live with an aunt in Texas" and work full time as a dishwasher to get an accounting degree from the University of Texas.
However, a roadblock during Betancourt's sophomore year almost prevented him from graduating. "All my college buddies had gotten internships at great companies. I had nothing and panicked. I was the first person in my family to go to college and didn't understand all the things you have to do," he says.
The Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities' (HACU) National Internship Program (HNIP) helped him get the experience he needed with an internship at Deloitte, No. 8 in The 2012 DiversityInc Top 50 Companies for Diversity. The program places high-performing college students with paid internships at corporations such as DiversityInc Top 50 companies PricewaterhouseCoopers, Sodexo, Marriott International, Eli Lilly and Company, and Target. Students also are placed at federal agencies. HNIP held its 20th-anniversary celebration gala on Oct. 22 in Washington, D.C., and has placed more than 10,000 students to date. Thirty-three percent of interns receive offers of employment, and 57 percent of the offers are accepted, HACU reports.
"If it wasn't for HACU's connections, I'd have a different type of job and career," says Paola Marte, HACU alumnae and senior tax consultant for Deloitte in New York City. Marte, born in the Dominican Republic, was among the first in her family to attend college. "The Big Four don't recruit at small schools like mine [Barton College in North Carolina]," she says. "HACU was the bridge that allowed me to go to a large firm and line up a job before graduation."
The transition from college to career is clear-cut for many middle-class students: You take classes, obtain an internship, graduate and then apply for jobs. But a majority of first-generation college-goers, many of whom are Latinos and immigrants, aren't aware of the opportunities available to them, according to Dr. Antonio R. Flores, president and CEO of HACU. And the majority of Latino parents don't have the career knowledge needed to provide the necessary guidance.
"Lack of exposure to development of expertise, successful interviews, taking corporate exams for entry or for full-time opportunities—all these things need to be addressed," says Dr. Flores. "Latino students need to know it's possible for them to go into these high-performing careers, that these types of positions are available."
Dr. Flores adds, "We have to make them think of themselves as professional, then give them a game plan to get there."