How LinkedIn creates a talent pipeline through mentorship

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Through L&D efforts and community outreach, LinkedIn is creating a talent pipeline of young, curious workers.

The employment-oriented professional networking company pairs volunteers from its staff with Gen Z talent via Year Up, an organization offering youth an intensive year of career development.

First, participants tackle six months of skills building. Subsequently, they apply those skills at a 6-month-long internship. Commonly, companies offer their Year Up interns full-time positions as internships end. HR pros, take note: these deeply engaged internships also prime young talent for a company’s candidate pool amid high turnover, Gen Z career anxiety and an overall talent shortage.

For this incarnation of a Year Up partnership, LinkedIn places interns in cybersecurity, information technology, data analytics and engineering. Year Up participants are entering web development, sales and the HR space – namely, talent acquisition – too.

LinkedIn is exploring many different avenues with Year Up internship, Christian Rubio, Interim Year Up program manager (and a former Year Up intern himself), told HR Dive. Back in 2011, there were only a “handful” of Year Up participants and now there are almost 40, he said. “Over the past cycle, which tends to happen every six months, we actually grew 40%,” Rubio explained. “A lot of managers have been starting to reach out to request a year of interns for their teams. Ultimately, we’re just like, ‘This is amazing.’”

Still, expertise in industry is one thing; the ability to teach is another. LinkedIn honors the mentoring skills of its employees with a coaching program, hosting virtual and in-person events, with the latter in LinkedIn’s Bay Area homebase. This symbiotic mentor-mentee relationship helps young professionals make the most of their internship.

Through the Year Up partnership, interns can take advantage of an “InDay,” or Investment Day, once a month, when LinkedIn employees dedicate a day to L&D. For interns, this day of service provides an opportunity to attend career workshops and networking sessions, resume reviews and LinkedIn profile audits.

Throughout the pandemic, Rubio observed that interns have typically needed support around asking for help. “They’re a little bit timid when you ask a question, ultimately, because they don’t want to ‘bother you or anything’ – things like that,” Rubio said. We tell them, ‘There’s no such thing as a dumb question. Always reach out and ask questions for you to get the response you’re looking for.” At the end of the day, Rubio said, “Closed mouths don’t get fed.”

The nudges outside the comfort zone are gentle. Rubio spoke to understanding intimately what these young Year Up professionals are going through. From his own experience, he recalled the intense pressure of balancing a second job on top of the 30-some-hour internship and a social life. Many days, Rubio said, he questioned why he was pursuing a career in tech and wanted to give up, but the LinkedIn-Year Up partnership taught him resilience. Now, he wants to imbue interns with a similar scrappiness and he drives home that this internship “is what you make it.”

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