Young professionals used to tapping on an app to rate Uber drivers and food delivery people are doing the same to rate their internships.
New websites and surveys, some run by universities, give aspiring young professionals a place to speak out with raw and detailed accounts of their experiences, from their manager’s style to the hours they work. The tools are turning the tables on employers, who have long had the power to hire or recommend interns, and influencing others’ decisions about where to work.
Paige Searles, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Georgia, read reviews online as part of her internship search. The Advertising and Business Management double major researched companies on Handshake, an app where employers post internships and entry-level jobs, and where interns and recent graduates share unfiltered testimonials about how they perceive office culture and work-life balance. She’s been monitoring mentions of working outside traditional office hours — a diversion for her — and signals about diverse leadership, which she sees as a plus.
“I don’t want to waste anyone else’s time or mine if it’s not suitable,” says Ms. Searles, who is interning this summer at a small business accounting firm, a post she found thanks to a mentor.
This summer’s class of interns could afford to be more demanding than in previous years, say recruiters and career counselors on campus. Many students responded to several internship offers before accepting one. As they evaluate offers, more and more students say they want unvarnished information so they really know what to expect at work. The ability to rate anonymously encourages honest feedback, without worrying about being shortchanged in the job search, according to people who run review sites.
Some sites, including Symplicity, which posts job postings and career events for students, do not allow employers to read or respond to reviews. Others require a campus email address to read or post, or may be accessible only to the reviewer’s classmates. Online reviews left on several sites about consulting internships and big tech companies reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show interns’ concerns about overworked managers, long hours and staff diversity.
A former Amazon.com Inc..
an intern shared anonymously on Handshake that there were no people of color on their 10-person team, but the manager was relaxed and the office was nice. (No snacks, though.) Another Amazon reviewer described a heavy workload, with weekends spent dreading the week ahead. Still, the experience looked good on a resume, according to the review.
Amazon said it wants to hire more black software development engineering interns and will match interested interns with mentors from black, Latino and Indigenous mentoring groups. The company also said it solicits feedback from trainees and their managers and can make real-time changes to the program.
A Tesla Inc..
equipment manufacturing engineering intern savvy about long hours on Canary, an exam website created two years ago by students at the Georgia Institute of Technology. “This is NOT an internship for everyone”, the student wrote. (Overall, the intern rated Tesla’s program five out of five.) Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.
Sims Pettway, who co-founded Canary and still works on the site in addition to his full-time consulting job, says internship ratings are a natural consequence of the reviews people leave for Uber drivers or delivery services. .
“In all areas of our lives, we have exchanges of information between people and reviews of experiences,” says Pettway, who graduated last year. “Of course, we want to review and share our experiences on those really important three-month sprints that launch our entire career.”
Canary has registered about 2,000 students from around 130 schools, he said. A thousand universities and colleges use Symplicity’s product for career services, which includes job listings and job fairs, according to a spokesperson. More than 1,400 campuses use Handshake, according to the website.
Anthony Hild, a 21-year-old senior at the University of Miami, says he received several summer internship offers and used online reviews to determine which one to choose. He looked at interns’ comments and compared them to what full-time employees said on Glassdoor, the company’s review website. The opinion of permanent staff members was also important, as he wanted an internship that could turn into a full-time offer, he says.
He finally decided to do an internship at Henkel AG,
soap maker Dial, as he learned online that the Germany-based company was encouraging overseas work, one of its long-term goals.
Companies are also getting more feedback from trainees. Home Depot Inc..
now sends weekly surveys to interns, says Eric Schelling, vice president of global talent acquisition. In response to requests for more one-on-one time with senior executives, the company hosted a virtual Q&A session this summer with its new CEO, Ted Decker, and more than 260 interns.
Top business schools are taking new steps to collect and share information about student internship experiences.
This fall, Harvard Business School will implement a protocol for sharing information when a student raises a concern about the work climate, said Kristen Fitzpatrick, executive director of the business school’s careers office.
If an intern tells HBS about a bad experience, campus staff urge the student to speak to the company and, with the student’s permission, will contact the employer for details, Ms. Fitzpatrick said. Then on the business school website for jobs, Harvard will add a note on the company page advising other students to contact the career center for more information.
The Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology plans to survey returning students this fall. One question will ask what values led students to a company and whether they felt it lived up to them.
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“We got this question: ‘Who is real when it comes to their commitment to DE&I [diversity, equity and inclusion]and who actually does it for the show? says Mark Newhall, Director of Employer Relations and Recruitment at Sloan.
Few students have complained to the HBS Career Center, Ms. Fitzpatrick says. In one case, the career center heard from a black business school student who said a white employee, who was also a Harvard alumnus, had expressed surprise in an interview at her professionalism.
The student interpreted his interviewer’s comment as racist and the school told the interviewer the comment was inappropriate, Ms Fitzpatrick said. HBS is starting to report these issues because the school believes negative experiences are more common than reported, and more feedback could lead to fewer problems, she adds.
“The workforce says, ‘I’m not going to accept this,’” she says.
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