Young professionals used to tapping 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, are giving aspiring young professionals a place to go wild with raw, detailed accounts of their experiences — from their boss’s style to the hours worked. The tools turn the tables on employers, who have long made decisions about whether to hire or recommend interns, and influence the decisions of others about the workplace.
Paige Searles, a 20-year-old junior at the University of Georgia, read online reviews as part of her internship search. The double major in advertising and business administration looked for companies on Handshake, an app where employers post internships and entry-level jobs and interns and recent graduates report unfiltered on how they perceive office culture and work-life balance. She listened for mentions of working after hours – a distraction for her – and references to diverse leadership, which she sees as a plus.
“I don’t want to waste someone else’s time or my time if it doesn’t fit,” says Ms Searles, who is doing an internship at a small business accounting firm this summer, a position she found through a mentor.
This summer’s intern class could afford to be pickier than in previous years, say recruiters and campus careers advisers. Many college students had multiple internship offers before accepting one. As they consider offers, more and more students are saying they want unvarnished information so they really know what to expect at work. The ability to review anonymously encourages honest feedback without worrying about being harmed in the job search, review site operators say.
Some websites, including Symplicity, that post student jobs and career events do not allow employers to read or respond to reviews. Others require a campus email address to read or post, or may only be accessible by the reviewer’s own classmates. Online reviews on multiple consulting internship websites and large tech companies reviewed by the Wall Street Journal reveal interns’ concerns about overworked managers, long hours, and workforce diversity.
A former Amazon.com Inc.
intern shared anonymously on Handshake that there were no blacks on their team of 10, 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, the review said.
Amazon said it wants to hire more Black software development interns and match interested interns with mentors from Black, Latino and Indigenous mentoring groups. The company also said it collects feedback from interns and their managers and can make real-time changes to the program.
A Tesla Inc.
Plant engineering intern warned about long hours on Canary, a ratings site created by Georgia Institute of Technology students two years ago. “This is NOT an internship for everyone,” says the student wrote. (Overall, the intern rated Tesla’s program a five out of five.) Tesla did not respond to requests for comment.
Sims Pettway, who co-founded Canary and still works on the site alongside his full-time job as a consultant, says evaluating internships is a natural offshoot of reviews people give for Uber drivers or delivery services.
“In every area of our lives we have people sharing information and sharing experiences,” says Mr. Pettway, who graduated last year. “Obviously we want to review and share our experiences with these really important three-month sprints that launch our entire career.”
Canary has enrolled about 2,000 students from about 130 schools, he said. One thousand universities and colleges use Symplicity’s product for career services, which include job postings and career fairs, according to a spokesman. According to the site, more than 1,400 colleges use handshake.
Anthony Hild, a 21-year-old senior at Miami University, says he received several summer internship offers and used online reviews to decide which one to take. He looked at the interns’ feedback and compared it to what full-time employees were saying on Glassdoor, the company review website. The opinion of the permanent employees is also important, because he wants an internship that could develop into a full-time offer, he says.
Finally, he decided to do an internship at Henkel AG,
the maker of Dial soap because he learned online that the Germany-based company is promoting work abroad, one of his long-term goals.
Companies are also collecting more feedback from interns. Home Depot Inc.
now sends out weekly surveys to interns, says Eric Schelling, vice president of global talent acquisition. In response to requests for more face-to-face meetings with top executives, the company hosted a virtual question-and-answer 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 students’ internship experiences.
This fall, Harvard Business School will install a protocol for sharing information when a student raises a concern about the workplace environment, says Kristen Fitzpatrick, executive director of the business school’s careers office.
If an intern tells HBS about a bad experience, campus staff urges the student to speak to the company and, with the student’s permission, will contact the employer for more details, Ms Fitzpatrick said. Then Harvard will add a notice on the company’s page on the business school’s Jobs website advising other students to contact the career center for more information.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management plans to survey returning students this fall. One question will be which values drove students to a company and whether they felt fulfilled by it.
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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’s doing it for show?’” says Mark Newhall, director of employer relations and recruiting at Sloan.
Few students have complained to the HBS career center, Ms. Fitzpatrick says. In one case, the careers center heard from a black business school student who said that a white employee who was also a Harvard graduate expressed surprise at her professionalism during an interview.
The student interpreted her interviewer’s comment as racist, and the school informed the interviewer that 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 that more feedback could result in fewer issues, she adds.
“The workforce says, ‘I’m not going to put up with that,'” she says.
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