Bank of America’s interns are its primary source of new talent

For companies looking for ways to attract highly qualified, diverse college grads, Bank of America’s internship program offers a compelling example. Summer interns make up a substantial majority (70%) of its incoming class of full-time hires. Of the 1,500 students who interned at BofA this year, 57% were people of color and 47% were female.

The company makes a point to highlight its diverse workforce to prospective hires and interns.

“What we try to do on a daily basis is tell those stories that showcase our talent so people can say ‘That’s me, that’s where I want to go, that’s where I want to be,’ ” says Ebony Thomas, diversity recruiting strategy executive at Bank of America.

Bank of America has also greatly expanded the number of colleges and universities where it recruits full-time hires and interns–a strategy that’s been made easier thanks to technology, says Lizzy Schoentube, head of campus recruiting.

“Globally, we have recruiting ‘boots on the ground’ at about 100 schools,” she says. “But we’ve expanded our hiring to over 350 different schools, thanks not only to video interviewing but also webinars and webcasts that help us reach students.”

Less well-known schools that have strong programs, such as the University of Southern Iowa, and community colleges that participate in Academic Passport, which enable students to transfer their credits to four-year universities, have become good sources of new hires and interns since BofA expanded its recruiting footprint, says Thomas.

“It’s allowed us to have a broader talent pool, which by nature is more diverse,” she says.

BofA has also used technology to give potential interns a better candidate experience, says Schoentube.

“First-round video interviews have replaced sending out people all over the place to different campuses, and that’s really improved things from a time and efficiency standpoint,” she says. “Anything you can do to get offers to interns faster starts you out on the right foot.”

Interns at BofA also participate in extensive training, including learning programs on wellness and resiliency, says Schoentube. The company also has support staff dedicated specifically to the internship program.

“We want to ensure that our interns have a great experience,” she says.

BofA, which has boosted its global leadership team to 54% women and people of color in recent years, wants candidates to know that its commitment to diversity is authentic, says Thomas.

“We can’t attract really good, diverse candidates unless we’re putting really good, smart and diverse people in front of them,” she says. “It’s important that your employees reflect the community that you want to bring into the organization.”

Andrew R. McIlvaine
Andrew R. McIlvaine is former senior editor with Human Resource Executive®.