After a one-year hiatus due to the pandemic, Best Buy welcomed back its summer internship program this year — and it’s our biggest, most diverse class ever.
It’s also the first time that internships have been entirely virtual, and our emerging talent team put an emphasis on making sure it’s still a great experience for all 179 participants.
“We, as a company, really believe that a lot of our strengths can be found at the emerging talent point,” said James McLean, program lead for the emerging talent team.
This year’s interns come from 28 states, and they’re working with teams across our Best Buy offices in Minneapolis, Seattle and Boston. Over 70 universities are represented this year, and we have 18 interns representing Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).
More than half of our interns self-identify as either BIPOC or female, a testament to the inclusive and diverse culture Best Buy wants to have.
A class of its own
One of the things the emerging talent team has had to keep in mind this summer is how working remotely can be a challenge, specifically when it comes to keeping interns engaged.
“I think we’ve all experienced video fatigue,” James said. “What we wanted to make sure to provide is options to have fun and for interns to engage with one another.”
One way the team has done that over the summer is by hosting a variety of virtual events. That has included a speaker series with top company executives, including CEO Corie Barry, where interns also had the opportunity to interact and ask questions.
“I’m the only intern in my area,” said Taylor Cielaszyk, an intern for our insurance risk management team. “To be able to get away and sit in on events with fellow interns and the emerging talent team is a fun time. It’s nice to step away since you can get wrapped up in your work.”
The team has also held more than 10 development sessions with different employee groups within the company. Digital and technology intern Evelline Samson pointed to a personal brand workshop as one of her favorite virtual events so far.
“I still think about the information I took away from that event,” she said.
Working on projects, projects, projects
One of the most exciting things about being an intern is getting projects that allow you to use what you learned in the classroom in the workplace. Our interns have had no shortage of projects this summer.
“I have a wide array of things I have been working on.” said Layna Thompson a sustainable products intern. “Seeing lots of different areas has been enlightening.”
Some of the projects Layna has been working on include updating the ENERGY STAR and sustainability pages on BestBuy.com and getting to host her own “lunch and learn” session about sustainability with a fellow intern.
Some of our interns are also working within our supply chain network, an experience intern Josh Uceta has enjoyed quite a bit. Working in our distribution center allows him to have an even more hands-on experience with his day-to-day work and his projects.
One of the major projects Josh has gotten to work on for our New York distribution center includes streamlining the way work is done on a day-to-day basis while also creating continuity between two separate teams within the warehouse.
From retail to corporate
One of the prime sources of talent for these summer internships was our own retail stores. In fact, 26 of our interns this summer previously worked in our stores.
Transitioning from working in a retail environment to working for a corporate team has been quite an accomplishment for our Blue Shirts and Geek Squad Agents. And it’s one that has the full-fledged support of the interns’ store leaders.
“They were all super excited,” said marketing intern Victoria Torres. “My sales manager said, ‘You definitely have to do this.’”
Victoria, who works at one of our stores in North Carolina, was promised her sales role back at the store when the internship concludes. That has put her mind at ease while she focused on her summer experience.
Interning at corporate has also introduced new experiences to our retail employees that they had not previously seen.
“I never knew about the connection groups we have here at Best Buy,” said quality assurance intern Arturo Delgado, referring to the company’s Employee Resource Groups and Focused Involvement Networks. “It was surprising to see all these different things you can join.”
Arturo, who works as a Geek Squad Agent in Riverside, California, said he will encourage fellow retail employees to find a group that fits them and join it.
One common theme
Something we pride ourselves on here at Best Buy is our inclusive and open culture. We know it ultimately leads to the best work environment, and our summer interns have seen firsthand how we deliver on that promise.
For marketing intern Sequoia Gillyard, attending the executive speaker series helped show her how the culture trickles down.
“Being able to see how executives function and being able to connect with them has been inspiring because even though they are in a higher position they really are just like me,” she said.
Human resources intern Ana Camargo DaCosta seconded that.
“The culture here is so amazing,” she said. “Best Buy truly values diversity and inclusion. They make sure employees are bringing their most authentic self to work.”
Click here to learn more about our internship programs and how to apply.
Editor’s note: Anthony Aleman, the author of this article, is also part of the internship program. A store employee from Dallas, he is working with our public relations team this summer.