The Ann Arbor Entrepreneurs Fund (A2EF) has partnered with Ann Arbor SPARK, the Washtenaw Community College Entrepreneurship Center, Cahoots, and local tech startups to offer its first Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) Internship Program.
The program was created to offer more opportunities to students who are underrepresented in the tech sector, and for Ann Arbor tech startups to strengthen their DEI efforts and have access to new talent.
"This industry is no stranger for a lack of diversity and representation," says Trista Van Tine, A2EF director. "[A2EF] felt we needed to do something and we could. This program is hopefully a way to drive more change and equity in our own backyard."
Applications for the program closed in early December and the student candidates are now in the final round of interviews with participating companies. After the interviews, students and companies will submit their preferences to potentially be matched. At the end of February, 14 students will each be matched with a company for a four-month paid, virtual internship. Participating companies include Duo Security, Censys, Workit Health, Wisely, and Refraction AI.
"It's important for us to make sure the program is beneficial to students and companies, and to help them create a strong bond," Van Tine says.
In addition to the internship, participating students and companies will engage in training and development activities. Leadership training sessions are available to the interns, and each student will be paired with a mentor. Startups will also participate in facilitated DEI training sessions led by Strategic Community Partners, a national consulting firm that helps organizations build and advance equity.
Van Tine says a lot of additional opportunities outside of the internship have been made possible by partners such as Ozone House. She says many community organizations and companies that value DEI efforts worked together to make the program possible.
"We want to make sure the interns have a wide range of support outside of these great paid internships," Van Tine says. "We’re thrilled to be a steward of all this collective action and to provide opportunities for the next generation of leaders."
Emily Benda is a freelance writer based in Ann Arbor. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.