Why Tech Companies Should Invest in Young Adults

July 13, 2015

Unemployment in the U.S. has decreased in recent years - currently at 5.3% - but the youth (ages 16-24) unemployment rate has reached 12.43% - that’s twice the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. LinkedIn’s vision is to create economic opportunity for every member of the global workforce. This is why we’ve partnered with Year Up, an organization that seeks to close the opportunity divide by helping to put young adults on a path to success. Year Up gives young adults the skills, experience, and support they need to reach their potential.

LinkedIn was the first Silicon Valley company to partner with Year Up. Since the start of partnership in 2011, more than 40 interns have had life changing opportunities to get a year up on their careers. Approximately 57% of our interns have had their internships at LinkedIn extended through contract work or have joined the company as a full time employee.

Throughout their internship, we provide in-depth training and coaching to each intern, empowering them to not only meeting the job requirements but to go above and beyond what they are being asked. When we invest in these interns and create an opportunity, we've found they are quick to show you their potential.

From left to right: Lynda Anderson, Ivan Xiong, Justin Celeste, Emmanuel Vo, Evan Lowe

Managing our GTS Year Up interns has also been a transformative experience for me. I've gained a number of insights that have made me a better leader:

They remind us not to jump to conclusions.

Have you ever gone into an interview as the interviewer and felt that there’s no way the candidate will do well …. only to have them completely blow you away? In a previous intern meet-and-greet, I felt like I went through this exact scenario. One intern in particular stood out during the event; he was the most quiet and reserved intern in the room, and seemingly disconnected from the interview. But then in a group interview setting, he stepped up as one of the strongest candidates and ultimately got the internship. He went on to be a top-notch performer with his technical and soft skills.

They are our future leaders.

We discuss career goals and aspirations during our weekly Year Up internship meetings. I’ve seen participants with exceptional leadership qualities who just need that extra push, but may one day become a CEO. These interns dream big and need champions to help them get there! By coaching and mentoring them with professional skills, we are enabling them to recognize their full potential.

They help YOU focus on what’s important.

As I continue working with new Year Up interns and the Year Up alumni, I am often reminded of what I feel is important: to have a work and life balance. For example, we enforce a strict policy allowing our Year Up interns to only work during regular business hour. We all know that it’s easy to work endless hours when you’re on a tough project or really excited, but we help our interns stay focused so that they can spend their evenings and weekends doing other things.

By challenging them, we challenge ourselves.

During their six month stay at LinkedIn, Year Up interns are presented with many challenges that are likely very new to them. Each intern class is asked to complete a final project. We give them a brief description of what is required and challenge them to figure out how how to deliver the product with minimal guidance. For example, last year’s intern class created this great video about their internship experience. Their dedication and passion is infectious; their eagerness to learn keeps me and other mentors on our toes so that we can provide coaching and insight.

They could be the talent you have been looking for.

Knowledge can be taught, experience can be gained, but the character of a person cannot be either. Many of our GTS interns have taken advantage of the opportunities given here at LinkedIn and sometimes make their own opportunities. Richard Bustos is an example of seizing the opportunity given and has successfully transformed his career from a six month internship on the Mobility Infrastructure team into a full time role as an Associate Web Developer. We had Nidhinesh Singh who came in hungry and determined to transform his career from a waiter to now a GTS Helpdesk technician. He is now a seasoned technician and has recently become a Certified Casper Technician (CCT).

Some of our current and former interns have shared their perspectives on the Year Up internship experience.

“Striving To Be The Best Me” by Lynda Anderson
“My Growth and Development as an IT intern at LinkedIn” by Emmanuel Vo
“My LinkedIn Internship Experience” by Justin Celeste
“How turning on the radio led to my job as a Web Developer” by Richard Bustos


Year Up
Economic Graph
U.S. Bureau of Labor Staticstics