Keeping Boston Students from Packing Up for Silicon Valley

April 9, 2013

The Need for More Boston Tech Internship Programs

Could additional Boston tech internship programs be the answer to seeing more of the young talent developed in Boston stay in Boston?

Boston is known for its universities — Harvard, MIT, Boston College, Northeastern, just to name a few. These schools attract the best and the brightest from around the world — students who are diverse in culture and background, students with remarkable ideas and talents. But for many of them, after four years here in the Hub studying and collaborating, interning and creating, they leave.
Where do they head? For some it’s New York, for others DC, but if it’s a career in tech they are pursuing, chances are they have their sites set on the alleged epicenter of the startup world, Silicon Valley.
So just to be clear — Boston’s top universities with top entrepreneurship programs mold the future leaders in technology and then they set them free to innovate and create elsewhere. With all the reputable startups and tech companies in the Boston area, how are we letting this happen?

Keeping Talent Developed Here in Boston Working Here in Boston

According to a recent BostInno article, “The Real Reason Students Leave Boston Isn’t the Housing, Weather, Bars or the T”, the most important factor for the annual graduate exodus is jobs. The article goes on to say that we do not have enough jobs in Boston for recent graduates, but I would argue that we in fact do — we just are not recognizing it.

The Need for More Boston Tech Internship Programs

We need to start healthy, robust internship programs at tech companies in Boston that can help funnel the top talent into the Boston market after graduation. We have job openings, we are just not recognizing/calling out that these positions are jobs that recent graduates who have had some training (i.e. internship programs) can do. By creating relationships with students early in their college careers companies can effectively build their talent pipelines.
Take engineers, for example. In the tech community, excellent engineers are priceless. Companies are constantly recruiting for them, whether they have a shortage or are expanding so quickly they don’t have enough bandwidth to keep up with their engineering needs.
Why is it, then, that they don’t look more often to the engineering students at MIT, Northeastern, or any of the other local universities that have renowned engineering programs to enhance their workforce? If we build out internship programs that encourage students to learn about Boston tech startups we help the situation twofold. First, students feel more confident in staying in the Boston area post-graduation knowing that there are opportunities here. Second, employers will have qualified talent who are vetted and familiar with their solutions and who are eager to work and be part of the Boston tech scene.
A great way to get started with bringing interns on board is to work with local universities on developing a summer internship program. For more information, my colleague Meghan Maher has written a terrific blog post, “Considering a Summer Internship Program? 4 Questions to Ask First.”

We in the tech community need to do more to entice students to stay and help grow our companies. What are your ideas for keeping students local?

Senior Corporate Recruiter

<strong>Lindsey Gurian</strong> is the Senior Corporate Recruiter at <a href="">Acquia</a>. She was previously a Senior Talent Specialist at Sonian, responsible for recruiting initiatives at both the firm and its portfolio companies.