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  • Culture Code, Focus Areas Boost Dell Internship Program

    May 03, 2017 | By NACE Staff

    Two interns work with a mentor at Dell.

    TAGS: best practices, internships, program development, nace insights

    Spotlight for Recruiting Professionals

    Last September, Dell went through an integration with EMC in what the company notes is the biggest tech integration in history. Since then, Dell has developed and grown its “culture code” of five core values by soliciting employee insight into what makes the company a great place to work.  

    Dell’s culture code of values is based on:

    • Customers—Dell believes its relationships with customers are the ultimate differentiator and the foundation for its success.
    • Winning together—Dell believes in and values its people. Dell employees perform better, are smarter, and have more fun working as a team than as individuals.
    • Innovation—Dell believes its ability to innovate and cultivate breakthrough thinking is an engine for growth, success, and progress.
    • Results—Dell believes in being accountable to an exceptional standard of excellence and performance.
    • Integrity—Dell believes integrity must always govern its fierce desire to win.

    “This culture code has permeated across the company, regardless of legacy entity, location, or level of experience,” says Megan Evangelista, college program manager, university relations in North America. “In talent acquisition, these values are what we’re looking for when evaluating job and internship candidates for a cultural fit.”

    That uniform foundation of company values is essential because Dell’s 12-week summer internship program runs on a global level. In addition to corporate-level programming, business units provide program-specific opportunities for interns to learn about their functional areas. These events provide a deeper look into the inner workings of a particular unit to help the intern understand both daily operations and long-term vision.

    In terms of programming, Evangelista determines competencies the company can focus on developing in its interns each summer. Her goal is to provide development opportunities and to challenge interns during what is essentially a simultaneous audition between candidate and company.

    “My three guiding pillars that I focus on whenever I’m doing anything intern-related are that they need to touch on an element of networking, professional development, or executive visibility,” Evangelista says.

    That said, she is constantly looking to update and improve Dell’s internship program, adding that providing an effective program for interns requires flexibility and resourcefulness.

    “You never want to keep things status quo simply because that’s the way things have always been,” she says. “Working with interns highlights this for me because their wants and needs are always changing. I’m already reading about the next generation of the work force because programming that has worked in years past might be completely irrelevant and missing the mark in two or three years. It’s important to be flexible in that regard.”

    The resourcefulness piece, Evangelista says, comes from knowing your company well, and understanding its culture and the different outlets you can plug into. These resources might include connecting interns with executives who want to give back by mentoring them or tapping into employee resource groups that have opportunities for interns to get involved.

    Involving individuals and groups within the organization as participants in the internship program also creates internal familiarity with and support for it. 

    “The number one, hands-down top rule is that you have to have buy-in across the board to have a successful program,” Evangelista explains. “It’s crucial that everyone feels invested in the program, wants to have the interns in the organization, and wants them to succeed. This is a key element for advancing your program.”

    However, she says one of the most common missteps employers still make is viewing their interns as temporary help. This leads to a half-hearted program with little support that yields unfulfilled interns and low or negative impact on the company’s ability to attract top candidates.   

    “Many companies mistakenly think of interns as transient team members,” Evangelista says. “There isn’t always investment in the growth and development of students. As a result, you’ll see employers provide projects or assignments that aren’t very meaningful. You need to provide depth to their experience. Challenge them. You want them to say, ‘I had a great summer and learned so much. The work I did pushed me, but has made me a stronger professional because it was meaningful to the company and it was meaningful to me.’ ”