Samsung Mini-Internship Introduces Students to Industry Leaders

This is part of an occasional series of articles about innovative training and education methods

By Kathy Gurchiek Aug 23, 2016

There's the typical, summer-long, 9-to-5 in-the-office internship. And then there's something different.

The Korean electronics giant's American headquarters in New Jersey, supported by the Meatpacking Business Improvement District in New York City, created the Mini-Internship program for high school and college students this summer. It offers weekly 90-minute talks by industry leaders on how their careers developed.

Samsung invited people at the top of their fields to speak each week, including:

--Ang Lee, Academy-Award-winning director.

--David Burke, chef who has been featured on "Iron Chef America."--Camille Hackney, executive vice president of brand partnerships and licensing/head of Global Brand Council at Atlantic Records/Warner Music Group.

--Sarah Higby, deputy chief development officer for corporate programs at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City.

--Kevin Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art's senior design manager.

--Bella Desai, director of public programs and exhibition education at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City.

--Heidi Braunstein, advisor on product and growth strategy for startups within the Samsung Accelerator.

The Mini-Internship kicked off July 20 and concludes Aug. 31. Attendees RSVP weekly to attend each free program, which includes lunch and is held at the Samsung 837 "experiential space" in the Meatpacking District in New York City. Typically, 50 people attended a session. Preference is given to members of Samsung's partner organizations, such as Boys & Girls Clubs of America and the Children's Aid Society. Students who attend all sessions receive a certificate from Samsung Electronics America.

Samsung promotes the program through local universities, the New York City Department of Education, a number of Samsung's non-governmental organization partners, the Meatpacking District and Samsung's 837 community.

The Mini-Internship is in addition to Samsung's more traditional internship model that places students throughout its company, such as in its mobile innovation lab or on its Think Tank Team.

Ann Woo, senior director of corporate citizenship of Samsung North America, played a key role in Mini-Internship programming. SHRM Online interviewed her via e-mail to learn more about Samsung's different approach to the summer internship.

SHRM Online: Samsung has hosted some amazing speakers for this program. They represent different careers; are there any similarities that were considered in choosing speakers?

Woo: The speakers came from varying industries in order to provide attendees a lens into career paths that they may not have even known exist—including arts and culture, food, music, media, and technology.

They shared anecdotes of their personal journeys to success, insights they gained along the way and advice they have for aspiring professionals. They shared stories about starting out on one career path but ending up on an entirely different one, interviewing for one job only to be offered something completely unrelated but a great fit. The key message was that there are many ways to apply skills, interests and passions and that it is important to be creative and be open to a variety of unexpected opportunities that could come your way.

SHRM Online: Why did Samsung decide to go with this type of format?

Woo: Unlike the traditional internship model in which a small, select group of students are granted internship positions, this program reversed the model by granting many students and other members of the public access to business leaders who led discussions as part of a weekly series. We designed the series to be as impactful and reach as many people as possible through panel discussions hosted by a moderator.

SHRM Online: How do you hope students will benefit?

Woo: A successful internship gives the student access to individuals who provide mentorship and advice on their professional career planning and goals—–and the Mini-Internship got right to that point. We hope students took away important advice, opened their minds to different career paths and found confidence to pursue future opportunities.

SHRM Online: What role did HR play in creating this program?

Woo: While the program was managed by the [company's] corporate citizenship team, we took key learnings from HR and our internship program, including this feedback from our own interns, to help shape this program.

We consistently hear that access to leaders and gaining insight into a global business perspective are two key aspects our interns appreciate about our program. This was a key factor in developing this program, as it is critical for students to have experiences that they can't get from a textbook or in a classroom.



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