Archive for January, 2010

Hispanic interns: perspectives to keep in mind

by Miguel Corona

Hispanics are the largest minority group in the United States, making up 15% of the U.S. population. Results from the upcoming 2010 U.S. Census will likely show that the Hispanic population will remain one of the fastest and youngest ethnic groups in the United States. In fact, the U.S. Census has already projected that Hispanics will comprise 29% of the U.S. population by the year 2050. The significant growth of Hispanics over the last 20 years has already influenced American culture, business, media, and education.

As a result, colleges and universities have already seen an increase in the number of Hispanic enrollments. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, Hispanic college enrollment between 1976 and 2004 increased an astonishing 372 percent. Today, Hispanics represent 11% of all college students in the United States. Over the next decade, Hispanic college enrollments are expected to increase by more than 39% as compared to 5% for whites, 26% for African Americans, and 26% for Asian Americans.

All college interns are eager to test their skills in a “real world” environment; however, Hispanic students might enter internship programs with very different life experiences. Below are three perspectives about Hispanic college students to keep in mind as they potentially participate in internships with your organization.

A large number of Hispanics are considered “non-traditional,” or “commuter” students. Unlike traditional college students that attend college directly after high school, non-traditional students such as Hispanics often take diverse educational paths. For example, many Hispanics spend their freshman and sophomore years attending community colleges before transferring to four-year universities.

It’s also not uncommon to find Hispanics that have interrupted their educational pursuits to work full-time and earn money to pay for tuition, books, and supplies. Hispanics possess a strong commitment to family, which might also mean contributing to their family’s economic well-being and therefore, taking a break from their college studies. This educational “on and off ramping” can potentially extend a Hispanic student’s time to graduation. 

Finally, a majority of Hispanics are first-generation college students, and very often, the first in their families to attend college. As a result, Hispanic college students will seek out affinity groups or experienced peers that can support their educational pursuits. Coaching and mentoring using a social support system is vital to them. Once a connection is made Hispanic students are incredibly loyal and committed to such relationships.

Employers sometimes go into internships knowing their expectations might not be met; however, the non-traditional characteristics described above transform into highly sought after work skills when applied to college interns: maturity, confidence, adaptability, commitment, and loyalty. These qualities are only enhanced when you consider that Hispanic college students are also eager to learn, eager to gain experience, and eager to be part of a team.

January 27, 2010 at 5:55 pm Leave a comment


About this blog

This blog is dedicated to employers with a focus on how to hire and manage interns effectively. We will have a variety of experts who will share helpful ideas, tips and more. We invite you to comment, ask questions and share your experiences. You are also welcome to submit written contributions to this blog.

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