When Robert F. Smith, Founder, CEO and Chairman of Vista Equity Partners, was in high school he cold called Bell Labs over and over again, finally convincing them to give him an internship that he credits as a “transformative experience that introduced [him] to the field of technology.”
Now, Smith is working to help the next generation of leaders of color connect to internships in STEM-related fields.
“I think those are the opportunities that create an understanding and opportunity for these young kids and, frankly, the companies who they work for to get to know each other, create exposure and experience, and potentially long term, economic opportunities in terms of full-time jobs,” Smith said.
In 2019, under Smith’s leadership, Fund II Foundation launched a new internship program — InternX — that’s aimed at matching marginalized students with STEM-related internship opportunities at businesses like AT&T, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Deloitte, Citi and Vista Equity Partners.
InternX links rising college sophomores with a 2.8 GPA or higher to an eight-week summer program where students intern with major companies across a range of sectors from finance and marketing to software and real estate. The program also provides payment, housing and mentorship.
To date, the program has matched about 12,000 college STEM students at internship opportunities where they can develop their skills and build their networks.
Read more about the InternX program in Essence Magazine.