To continue building diversity and sustainability at Centric, we will again host INROADS interns this summer — with twice as many students as last year!
This summer, 10 interns from INROADS — a St. Louis, Missouri-based nonprofit organization that provides pathways to careers for diverse college students across most of the U.S. and Puerto Rico — will work alongside Centric Consulting professionals.
That’s more than twice as many interns as 2021, the first year we participated in the program as part of our Centric Together initiative. The dramatic growth indicates that INROADS’ mission aligns well with the cultural movement underway with Centric Together.
“Our DEI initiative, Centric Together, was our number one imperative going into 2021, and our momentum has only increased,” said Shan Mukhtar, our Former Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Lead.
“We knew we had a great culture at Centric. But the murders of Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd, and Breonna Taylor, and the nationwide movement that followed, led to conversations on whether our culture was truly welcoming of people with all identities and backgrounds. Through Centric Together, we’ve committed ourselves to ensuring all Centric team members can thrive in our culture and find opportunities to grow their careers here. That’s an essential part of building a sustainable workforce for the future.”
Mukhtar continued, “INROADS is one way we are changing our recruiting strategy to align with our DEI goals. We want to build relationships with our interns and hopefully attract them into full-time roles.”
David Wilkinson, Operational Excellence Lead for our St. Louis Practice, knows firsthand how an INROADS experience can lead to full-time employment for diverse candidates. He is a proud alumnus of the INROADS program, completing a four-year internship with a St. Louis bank before becoming a full-time employee with the financial institution. Many years later, he joined Centric.
Our partnership with INROADS was his suggestion, inspired by his desire to match INROADS’ commitment and mission with our culture to attract talented, diverse students who will help accelerate our DEI efforts.
“I started with the bank in the credit card operations area and then moved to Credit Administration,” Wilkinson recalls. “It turned into a four-year position at the bank, allowing me to get more into Commercial Lending.
“INROADS is the nation’s largest nonprofit source of paid internships for diverse, high-performing undergraduate students,” he added. “Companies like Centric, which value diversity as an essential component of their culture, make great partners for INROADS and their mission to attract and develop diverse, high potential talent to build a pipeline of future leaders. It’s all long-term-career focused rather than just having a summer internship.”
Another former INROADS intern is our Microsoft Partner Lead Maurice Faison, who has also been instrumental to Centric Together.
“It was through INROADS that I met professionals doing real work in my field of study which was Engineering,” Faison recalled. “I still remember several managers and mentors who really showed interest in my development as a person and as a student and who gave me advice on navigating the corporate and real worlds that stick with me to this day.”
Like Centric Together’s members, our INROADS Class of ’22 will span across several of our business units, Wilkinson continues.
“Last year, we had interns in the Chicago and Boston business units, as well as the Business Consulting Services unit,” he noted. “This year, we have interns in our Chicago, Columbus and Boston teams, as well as our National Salesforce, Data & Analytics and Business Consulting Services operating groups.”
Wilkinson also noted that diverse Centric team members have volunteered to provide another layer of coaching and support as mentors for the interns. Just as importantly for Mukhtar, our INROADS partnership also sets the stage not only for greater diversity but also for an established pathway for recent college graduates.
“Historically, we haven’t often hired directly out of college because we’ve built our reputation on the longevity of experience and providing our clients with a seasoned team of consultants,” Mukhtar said. “But we now know that in a field that has traditionally not had a lot of cultural diversity, it’s important to grow and nurture a strong talent pipeline that aligns with our DEI values. Our partnership with Inroads is a pathway to help us do just that.”
For example, the INROADS program could also help us develop an inclusive model for students even before graduation.
“University recruiting will help us expand and refine how we onboard, mentor and coach early career team members at Centric,” Mukhtar said. “Our engagement with the INROADS internship program can help us build out our capacity in growing the next generation of consulting professionals.”
Both Wilkinson and Mukhtar are beyond excited about this year’s program — as are our managing members, who have put their support behind this partnership and will participate in the interns’ summer experience.
“Leadership bought into INROADS right away,” Wilkinson said. “They see it as an investment in Centric’s future. Also, INROADS has a high GPA requirement, so the rising seniors joining us this year are the best of the best.”
“I can’t wait to see how this program grows in the future,” he concluded. “This investment could expand to investments in other partnerships that could help us increase diversity, such as our work to drive Digital Inclusion with LaunchCode in St. Louis last year. Early career professionals can be a great asset to Centric — we just need to give them a chance.”