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#Leadership : How Under Armour Built The Highest Rated Internship Program In The Country…When a Company Prioritizes People as its Primary Investment, it Sees a much Greater Return.

Internships are a great way for millennials to explore careers without fully committing to a full-time job.

Learning about the unique nature of a particular field helps young people discover clarity on what they actually want to do for their career. Not only that, but countless studies indicate that internships are still one of the best ways to get a better job opportunity after finishing college or graduate school.

For millennials looking for an internship, where should they begin their search? Someone looking for an opportunity next year can read the Most Prestigious Internships list. But what happens when that highly ranked program of the future doesn’t actually provide the promised value?

Past success can be a powerful predictor of future success, so those looking for the right internship opportunity should look back to see which companies have the best programs.

According to one recent survey conducted by WayUp, the number one internship program for 2017 was Under Armour, the athletic apparel and lifestyle brand. They finished ahead of brands like Google and Facebook, who typically are ranked at the top for their internship programs.

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How did Under Armour beat out popular brands like Disney, ESPN, Google, and Facebook? What can leaders learn from this top-rated program to better engage their millennial interns? I spoke with Chris Hong, VP Talent Acquisition, Human Resources at Under Armour to find out.

It must be a company priority

“The Under Armour Rookie Program is our investment in the next generation of diverse talent that will lead the brand in the future,” says Hong. “Through internships, we scout the talent early and bring in the best who can join the team and work with us to empower athletes everywhere.”

Sometimes businesses assume the smartest investments are in things, not people. Yet the opposite is true. When a company prioritizes people as its primary investment, it sees a much greater return in the future.

Have top leadership take ownership of the experience

“Support from all levels makes an impact,” notes Hong. “From our managers and mentors who work directly with the Rookie, to our executives who take part in our Leadership Speaker Series, we have incredible leaders at all levels who are generous with their time.”

Initiatives like an internship program live and die on the investment from top leadership. Some leaders may say it’s important to the company, but their words are only true when combined with action. And the best person to model this investment is the founder and CEO of Under Armour, Kevin Plank, who spends an hour with each Rookie every year. He uses this time to share his experiences and model the importance of the program to other leaders.

Empower people to make decisions

“Empower Rookies (interns) like you would your teammates,” says Hong. “We’re constantly impressed by the contributions Rookies make to the team during their internships. They’re hungry, curious, gritty and fearless.”

 Millennials know their voice can make a difference. Whether through a social media following or a YouTube channel, this generation realizes they can offer great value to others. Give interns an opportunity to speak into the company, even if they are only present for a few months. An outside perspective can be refreshing, and that fresh viewpoint often brings necessary clarity to a problem or project.

Find top talent everywhere

“Talented students are everywhere and more discoverable than ever before,” notes Hong. “Our recruiting efforts are designed to find students who can make a difference on the team wherever they are, and we know we have to look globally for great talent.”

 In order for an internship program to succeed, it must start with people who are the right fit for the experience. Leveraging digital tools to find and recruit the right people is a critical key for success. Attending random job fairs isn’t nearly as effective as targeting individuals, regardless of location, who fit in well with the brand and the program.

Let's continue the conversation on Twitter. Visit my website to find out how your company can use principles of storytelling to create a clear, compelling message that works.

 

Forbes.com | October 12, 2017 | Wes Gay

Your #Career : 5 Foolproof Tips To Make Your Mentorship Count…Mentoring Arrangements can Become a Waste of Time for Both Parties If you Don’t Take a Few Key Steps.

You took the first step and asked someone to be your mentor. Congrats! Whether you chose this seasoned pro to help you hone specific skills or to give you long-term career advice, it’s up to you to drive the relationship—so you get the most out of the time you’re both putting in.

It's important to realize that you don't actually need to like an employee's personality.

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"When you work with a mentor who can give you a lay of the land, support you when you’re faltering, and help keep your goals on track, you’ll get from A to B faster and more intelligently because you learn how to avoid common pitfalls and stay dedicated to your process," says Gerard Adams, cofounder of media company Elite Daily, entrepreneur, and self-made millionaire.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, right? It’s a give and take, but with these tips, you’ll be able to maximize your mentorship and jumpstart your career.

1. PUT ASIDE YOUR EGO

If you’re the type of go-getter who’s upping your job game with the help of a mentor, you’re probably a motivated, driven and accomplished person yourself. But in this role, you’ve got to remember that you’re the student, and he or she is the teacher. So relax and allow yourself to be taught. That means respecting your mentor’s opinion, considering everything they say carefully, and ultimately, taking your ego down a notch.

"In mentorship, it’s important to be a good listener," says Adams. "Many people don’t take constructive criticism well and can’t manage their ego that tells them they’re always right. Know that you are always going to be learning, and be willing to listen when advice is brought to the table."

 

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2. SET A CONSISTENT MEETING SCHEDULE

Chances are, your mentor is extremely busy. He or she hasn’t gotten where he or she is by slacking off. So be respectful of your mentor’s time by scheduling your meetings in whatever way is most convenient for him or her.

"Students can get the most out of their mentorships by setting a consistent meeting schedule with their mentors and using every minute of those meetings to their best interests," says Greg Stahl, vice president of marketing at Varsity Tutors, a live learning platform based in Boston. "These check-ins could be in-person, via Skype, over the phone—whatever allows the mentorship to fit seamlessly into the mentor's schedule."

3. KNOW THE RIGHT QUESTIONS TO ASK

Too often, and especially in mentorships with younger people, mentees know they want a mentorship but don’t know what they want out of it. That’s why coming to each meeting with guiding questions, based on what you want to accomplish, is key to a successful relationship—plus, it saves you from wasting time figuring out what to focus on.

"If you’re still a student, questions could relate to how you can prepare for your career path, how to balance remaining schoolwork with making decisions about your postgrad plans, how to effectively make these decisions, and so on," says Stahl.

You should also learn why your mentor has made certain professional decisions. It’s helpful to become familiar with your mentor’s career arc and how he or she has achieved professional success—but it’s even more useful to understand why your mentor made such decisions. That way, you can apply a similarly discerning thought process to your own professional choices.

"Try to learn how their mind works," says Susan R. Meyer, president of Life-Work Coach in New York City.

4. FOCUS ON THE OUTCOMES

Create a series of short-term and long-term goals—and check in periodically with your mentor so you can track your progress. This will not only help keep you focused and accountable, but it will also show your mentor that his or her advice is valued.

"Demonstrate that their investment of time, effort, and expertise in you was worth it via a disciplined focus on key milestones you commit to," says David Nour, CEO of The Nour Group, a consulting firm based in Atlanta. "They have to see you improve, grow, and become a stronger professional. Otherwise, they’ll lose patience and you’ll take the wind out of their sail to want to continue to help you."

5. BE GRATEFUL AND KEEP IN TOUCH

Usually, mentors don’t owe you anything. They’re taking you under their wing under the goodness of their hearts (and they see potential in you). And their investment in you can and often does lead to real results.

Ashley Hill, CEO of College Prep Ready, a Cincinnati-based scholarship firm, remembers how influential her mentor was in finding career success (she was a graduate assistant in her biological sciences degree program).

"She took time after class and outside of office hours to help me understand the class material as well as give career guidance," says Hill. "This relationship led to a $10,000 internship and allowed me to discover my love for research. As a result, I am in a very fulfilling career that is using those research skills to assist students in leveraging talents and achievements to find and win merit scholarships to pay for college."

Someday, you may find the roles reversed, so it’s important to be grateful, especially after you’ve found success.

 

FastCompany.com | JON SIMMONS, MONSTER  | 08.26.16 5:00 AM