How do you turn an intern into an employee? Here’s what worked for one consultancy

Not every experience with the 10,000 Small Business Fellows program is guaranteed to be like the one Community College of Baltimore County (CCBC) accounting major Olivia Snyder.

It was her first professional experience and a scary transition. But now, having gone through the internship, she recommends every intern does what they can to get out of their comfort zone. Thanks to the mentorship she received while working at Linthicum Heights, Maryland-based TargetGov from fall until spring, Snyder is not only a better accountant but a better holistic working professional.

Snyder worked with the government-focused marketing and consultancy firm as part of the aforementioned fellows program, which Goldman Sachs created. 10,000 Small Businesses Fellows paired students from partner universities with local small businesses for paid internships through the fall of 2021 and spring of 2022. The program ultimately matched 252 students with 231 small business owners in four cities — New York, Baltimore, Dallas and Cleveland — and their surrounding areas. Baltimore metro-based students hailed from Morgan State University, Johns Hopkins University and CCBC. The program grew out of Goldman Sachs partnering with the Washington DC-based Bipartisan Policy Center think tank to survey small businesses in its 10,000 Small Business Voices report. According to that study, 97% of small businesses said that difficulty hiring was affecting their bottom line. To that end, the eponymous program was created to bridge that gap.

For participants like Snyder, bridging the gap also required a willingness to take risks.

“I think people need to open up to doing something they’re uncomfortable with,” Snyder said. “Because it could really be right for them. Moving into a different job, I will be able to talk to people now where I wasn’t before.”

Executive lessons

How did TargetGov’s Chief Experience Officer Jenny Bonilla turn a shy 20-year-old college student into a confident, experienced employee ready to take on her next role — wherever it may be? Bonilla said that it required being aware of any assumptions she and TargetGov have for interns as an employer, as well as being intentional and specific about the company’s systems during the onboarding process.

“It’s really important to have a kick-off with the intern to figure out what their past is,” said Bonilla. “So meeting with Olivia and hearing that we’re her first professional experience and office-setting job — What does that mean for her? And then, what does that mean for us?”

Bonilla, as a manager, had to figure out what Snyder did and didn’t understand about being a TargetGov employee. That doesn’t just mean whether or not Snyder understood and could perform the job duties. Instead, we’re talking about holistic education on what it means to be an employee and employer.

Key questions included: Do you know where your paycheck comes from? Is the employer withholding your taxes at the right level of withholding? How do you stay professional with your direct supervisor when you’re going to be late to the office or behind on work?

Because the company is small, Snyder worked in a variety of departments besides accounting and thus broadened her relevant skill set. She helped the marketing department process client videos and also assisted the business development team. Snyder ultimately touched all parts of the company in her time with TargetGov.

“I think we’ve been able to give her that full picture,” Bonilla said. “Which is a benefit of [being] a fellow in a small program, and it’s also a benefit to us because she can transfer those really great skills that she has for accounting — and that great eye for detail — to other parts of our company. And I think that’s what really allowed her to bloom working with us.”


Donte Kirby is a 2020-2022 corps member for Report for America, an initiative of The Groundtruth Project that pairs young journalists with local newsrooms. This position is supported by the Robert W. Deutsch Foundation. -30-

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