By Tom Walsh
Detroit will soon be the launching pad for a unique new partnership program to place dozens – and eventually hundreds – of young minority students in career-track internships for financial services jobs.
Starting in February, the key partners – Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, Henry Ford College and the nonprofit Year Up workforce development organization will begin accepting applications for the internships that begin in late March.
The Detroit Regional Chamber reached out earlier this year to bring the banks, community college and Year Up together as part of its campaign to help boost Michigan’s highly skilled talent and drive future economic growth.
Elisha Gilliam, managing director of scalable solutions at Boston-based Year Up, spoke on a panel in Detroit in April with Bank of America Michigan President Matt Elliott during Chamber’s “State of Talent” forum. Soon after, the Chamber connected Year Up with Henry Ford College, Gilliam said, “to think about how can Year Up come to Detroit?”
Nationally, Year Up, founded in 2000,provides young adults from underserved communities with six months of career readiness and business skills training followed by six-month internships, which typically lead to job opportunities.
With Henry Ford and the Chamber as partners, Gilliam said, “we didn’t feel like we needed to come to Detroit full-scale; it could be a shorter three-month program because we’re recruiting from the community college students that are near completion or receiving their credential.”
The Detroit pilot program will begin with 30 students, split between the two employers where the students will be placed for internships. Participants in the new Year Up Detroit program will be aged 18 to 29 and a high school graduate or GED, but will not have obtained a bachelor’s degree.
Creating Career Pathways for Low-income Students
Barry Mullan, a Chicago-based Bank of America senior vice-president, said the bank has hosted more than 1,800 Year Up interns since 2006 and went on to hire more than 70% of them.
“We just recently were made aware that Detroit was an area where Year Up was looking to explore,” said Mullan, who will lead the launch of Bank of America’s partnership with Year Up in Detroit. “It’s an extension of what our company has committed to in terms of hiring folks from low- and moderate-income communities.”
At Bank of America, interns in the Year Up partnership program would typically begin as relationship bankers.
“We don’t necessarily hire for what the teller role was in the past as an entry level,” Mullan said. “The entry-level relationship banker is usually somebody who engages with clients in the lobby with iPads and digital technology. They can also work behind the teller line, and with additional training they can end up sitting with clients at a platform or a banker desk and have conversations with the client.”
Expansion to Health Care and Automotive Tech
Aadil Sulaiman, who will lead Year Up’s strategic launch in Detroit, said the initial goal is to focus on consumer banking internships, with future expansion possible in health care and automotive technology.
An aspirational goal, he said, would be to potentially serve up to 150 participants in 2024.
Cassandra Myers, workforce development program manager at Henry Ford College, said, “We want to connect our students to opportunities in banking where we see pathways to the companies, the great employers in our area, and this is one of our techniques.”