When the pandemic canceled over half a million internships, Driving Forward heard the call and mobilized in thirty days to welcome our first cohort of interns. While our first summer focused on COVID response, we found our ongoing mission and are demonstrating that we’re here to stay. Over seventy-five percent of first-generation or low-income college enrollees do not earn their degree or land a strong job. Simultaneously, thousands of CEOs pledge to take measurable action in advancing diversity and inclusion in the workplace through hiring and retention. Driving Forward bridges this gap.
OUR ROADMAP FOR CAREER SUCCESS
It all started when our founder, Marv Richardson, posted on LinkedIn and reached 30,000 people in May 2020. This social attention helped us develop a team of over 200 volunteers who passionately fulfill our mission. Furthermore, we started to create a network of corporate sponsors and received over seventy-thousand dollars in funding and in-kind donations in the last nine months. We are focused on reaching the most at-risk students and have established eighteen university partnerships to get us closest to the students in need. We were also recently one of four teams that won The University of Chicago’s global entrepreneurial competition called Global New Venture Challenge.
Driving Forward’s career development program focuses on upskilling first-generation and under-served students entering the workforce. The unique career accelerator consists of three primary components: our flagship case study competition, a mentorship program, and a corporate internship.
The flagship case study program is an eight-week competition where interns are assigned to five- to seven-person teams to research a selected company and problem statement. Examples include Airbnb’s response to the pandemic and Bitmain’s impact on environmental regulation. Students propose innovative ways for these companies to thrive and compete in the changing industry landscape. During each week of the program, speakers present key concepts ranging from project management to market analysis to presentation skills that the interns can apply directly to the work that they are doing in their case study. At the end of the program, Driving Forward gives awards and cash prizes to recognize the top-performing teams.
The mentorship program is the glue throughout our entire program. We pair our interns with mentors across a wide variety of industries that give them individualized coaching to help them with the case study program, develop interpersonal skills, and prepare their resume and interview skills to compete for top jobs. This relationship is an essential step in helping the interns build their own professional networks.
Finally, we offer our interns opportunities to work directly with our corporate partners. This option allows them to gain direct experience in the workforce, further gauge their interests, and build their resumes by demonstrating expertise. These opportunities vary based on the company and have included helping train machine learning and technology consulting.
Our student engagement team tracks our students throughout their experience and helps them overcome hurdles that they face along the way. Ultimately, our student’s success is our success.
WE'RE ALREADY DRIVING
We are delivering results every day. Since establishing our 501c3 nonprofit last summer, we have hosted three student cohorts and supported over 150 students from June 2020 through August 2021.
Ultimately, we measure our success on the outcomes we deliver and the lives that we touch. It’s incredibly rewarding to watch our interns grow during their time with Driving Forward and beyond. Over the last year, it has been heartwarming to see our interns celebrate their new jobs.
WE'RE DRIVING RESULTS
ONE STUDENT AT AT TIME
As an Earlham College student majoring in Econometrics and Quantified Economics, Trevor participated in Driving Forward’s internship program during the summer of 2020 and won the innovation award for his presentation on Starbucks. He is currently completing an internship at West Monroe Partners.
"Driving Forward helped me on my journey to find a meaningful and fulfilling career. They gave me a chance to be mentored by professionals directly aligned with my industry preferences and career goals and provided me the opportunity to apply my class knowledge into the corporate world.”
Majoring in Economics, Ecology, and Evolutionary Biology at Yale University, Sharon participated in the winter 2020 Driving Forward cohort and won the best presentation award for her work on Disney. She also completed an internship last summer with corporate sponsor Health Care Service Corporation.
"Through the eight-week program, I had the opportunity to meet the leaders of top companies across numerous industries, develop business skills, and work creatively with other interns to solve business challenges. Driving Forward has given me the confidence to dream big, as I know that no matter where I go in my career, I will always have a community of supportive mentors willing to help me.”
Sophie is majoring in Applied Economics & Management at Cornell University. She participated in the Driving Forward internship program during summer 2020 and won the impact award for her presentation on Apple. She’s currently completing a corporate-sponsored internship at West Monroe Partners.
"Driving Forward has tremendously impacted my ability to create connections in the business world, not only with future employers, but with my mentors and peers who have supported me on the way! Through a diversity of participants, thought, and opportunities, I widened my perspective […] and built both soft and hard skills in my career!”
THE JOURNEY CONTINUES
We recently launched our winter 2022 application and are excited to welcome our newest cohort in early January. We plan to host our eight-week, winter internship from January through March. During the summer of 2022, we will focus on promoting different corporate internship opportunities to our students to ensure as many as possible are getting experience directly related to their career objectives.
We recognize none of this would be possible without the contributions of everyone involved with Driving Forward.
Many volunteers contribute time by serving as coaches to the case study teams, mentors to the interns on an individualized basis, panelists and speakers at specific learning events during the program, and staff who dedicate time every week to running the organization.
We are proud of how much of our organization is run and driven by our dedicated volunteers.
Additionally, our corporate and individual sponsors play a key role in funding the program and scaling the results that we’re driving. Many corporate sponsors donate directly, while others contribute through in-kind donations like software.
If you or your organization is interested in getting involved, we would gladly welcome you to reach out through our website at drivingforward.org. Join us in our mission of helping students transition from college to a meaningful career!