As we rapidly approach graduating West’s inaugural summer internship class (too soon!), we wanted to take a moment to acknowledge and thank our extraordinary cohort of interns. West is incredibly grateful to each of them for their insightful contributions, tireless energy and passion, and unwavering commitment to push each other and West in always striving to be better.

And reflecting on this incredible experience we wanted to share a couple of key learnings that we believe validates the tremendous value internship programs provide. That said, we also hope this will inspire and persuade employers who don’t yet have an internship program to launch one of their own.

Seeing Things Differently
It cannot be overstated that ‘group-think’ is a real barrier to creative thinking and generating breakthrough insights. Having the right mix of capabilities and experiences are critical to the success of any organization.

Consequently, interns challenge ‘the way we’ve always done it’ mentality by bringing fresh, novel perspectives and approaches. And given their relative lack of professional experience and natural curiosity, interns are incredibly good at questioning established norms, ideas and processes and suggesting solutions that hadn’t been considered before.

This summer the West interns weighed in on a range of external and internal projects from analyzing the network effects of two-sided marketplaces to experience journey mapping to producing omni-channel media campaigns. For one of our portfolio companies looking to engage with a specific target audience, the interns’ unique perspective enabled them to identify social trends that were on the periphery, but particularly meaningful.

Clearly this kind of thinking is invaluable. But also substantiates the notion that diversity of perspectives and approaches, regardless of professional experience, can benefit any organization, team or project.

New Employment Reality
Increasingly employers expect potential candidates to have experience before applying. In fact the Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce found that 63% of college graduates who completed an internship received a job offer, compared to 35% who never interned. In addition, graduates with internship experience received a starting salary that was 28% higher than their peers without that experience.

Providing access to relevant, meaningful internships allows students to build professional experience, and prepare them for this new employment reality. And investing in internships help students succeed in their first job and sets them up for long-term career success.

So as we celebrate the success of our inaugural internship class, we also want to encourage future employers to launch and adopt an internship program. We believe that preparing the next generation of leaders not only makes smart economic sense, but is also our responsibility to making the world a better place.

Congratulations to the West summer interns of 2018. Be well. Do well. And thank you for joining us out West!