Xtern talent program exceeds expectations for upcoming 2021 session
Applications to take part in TechPoint’s Xtern program hit an all-time high this year, which means Indiana’s tech community is in for a spectacular Finalist Day on November 13. Student applications to participate in the coveted internship program totaled 2,035, which is an increase of 12% over previous years.
Taking the usual recruitment efforts to an entirely virtual setting was initially a daunting task, but the talent team embraced the opportunity. “Being forced into remote campus recruitment due to the pandemic really opened our eyes to outreach avenues we’d not pursued before,” said Merillat Flowers, senior director of talent programs and team development. Thanks to a robust digital footprint, strategic campus relationships around the state, and particular efforts to recruit diverse talent, the results exceeded all expectations.
“Moving to a more extensive virtual strategy allowed us to reach more universities and thus more students than ever before,” said Al Carroll, university activation senior manager. “Our team is driven by the opportunity to find exceptional and diverse talent for our tech ecosystem and I’m proud to say the resulting application pool is the most diverse to date.”
This recruitment season saw more than 750 women apply to the program, a 29% increase on the previous year. We noted a modest increase in Latino applications, and to our dismay, a reduction in the overall number of Black applicants. Al pointed out that the program has seen a steady increase in Black applicants year over year. He attributed the decline this season on the pandemic’s limitations on on-campus strategy.
“We’re confident that our numbers will continue to reflect efforts when our team can get back in person on campus,” he said.
With an exceptional class of individuals in the pipeline, the TechPoint talent team is excited to turn their attention to the admissions and placement process ahead. Company commitments to participate in the fall placement cycle are due this week, so reach out here if you have not yet shared your interest.
As the TechPoint talent team engaged with students across the state and country, several trends became clear. After seeing many of their friends lose internship opportunities last summer due to the pandemic impact, they are nervous about their likelihood to land an opportunity that will prepare them for the workforce. Just like all of us in the working world, they are facing Zoom fatigue and struggling to engage in meaningful ways with others. The Xtern strategy seems more important than ever as an answer to the challenges today’s college students are facing. Our tech ecosystem will benefit from continuing to invest in early-in-career talent pipelines to ensure our future growth is secure. More than ever, students are grateful and eager to prove themselves for teams that are taking a bet on them.
After talking to hundreds of students virtually via career fairs and as TechPoint prepares for a virtual Finalist Day, the Talent Team compiled advice for companies going into online interviewing with university students:
- Help students feel comfortable – Just because students are calling you from the comfort of their dorm room, doesn’t mean they are not nervous about the opportunity to speak with employers. Building a positive connection early on in your call is essential to pulling out the best from a candidate.
- Be prepared to speak to your job setting – With such uncertainty about the timeline with the pandemic, students are particularly curious about how companies plan to approach jobs and internships. Be ready to speak to how your team has pivoted to a remote environment or the conditions for in-person work if that’s applicable. Position your company as one that is ready to address the changing dynamics successfully.
- Set clear expectations for the interview – Will you be using your camera or not? What is appropriate attire? What should they do if Zoom crashes during the call? Set the interview and your candidates up for success by providing very clear expectations for the remote interview.
- Provide a clear application process – More than ever, students are unsure of what to expect from employers about the application timeline. Even if things need to stay relatively flexible given your company’s ebs and flows, keep them updated by certain dates.
- Consider starting your positions sooner – Even with all the changes, students are enthusiastically looking for work opportunities. In a virtual setting, now is a great time to start your internships sooner! Consider bringing them on part-time in the spring. This is a great onboarding strategy for full-time positions as well.
Visit techpoint.org/talent to learn more about Xtern and other TechPoint talent programs