Acquiring Talent through Internships: 41st on Black Collegian's Top Employers List

Article excerpt

During turbulent economic times, many organizations are looking for ways to be proactive and bring strong talent into their organizations. This year's featured organization. Reynolds American Inc., is no exception.

Newcomer to the Black Collegian's Top 100 Employers List for 2010 is, Reynolds American is the parent company of R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company. American Snuff Company, LLC. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco Company. Inc. and Niconovum AB.

R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Company is the second-largest U.S. tobacco company. The company's brands include five of the 10 best-selling U.S. cigarette brands: Camel, Pall Mall, Winston, Kool and Doral. American snuff Company, LLC is the nation's second-largest manufacturer of smokeless tobacco products. Its leading brands are Kodiak, Grizzly and Levi Garrett. American Snuff Co. also distributes a variety of tobacco products manufactured by Lane, Limited, including little cigars and roll-your-own tobacco. Santa Fe Natural Tobacco, Inc. manufactures Natural American Spirit cigarettes and other additive-free tobacco products, and manages and markets other super-premium brands. Niconovum AB markets innovative nicotine replacement therapy products under the Zonnic brand name in Sweden and Denmark.

Barbara Carter, Senior Manager, Talent Acquisition/University Relations for Reynolds American Inc., has led the efforts to bring strong diverse talent into their organization through internships and other talent acquisition models. The 12-week summer program is the flagship of how Reynolds American acquires talent through internships.

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We recently spoke with Ms. Carter to discuss the importance of the internship program at Reynolds American and how diversity plays a part in RAI's talent acquisition initiatives.

The Black Collegian: What makes you so passionate about acquiring top diverse talent?

Carter: I have always been involved in our organization's diversity initiatives and I feel that a workforce that is diverse is much more productive, engaged and creative. Diversity in the traditional sense is important, but also we look for a talent pool that is diverse in their backgrounds, perspectives as well as their experiences.

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I truly believe there are a vast number of strong, talented individuals out there; you just have to have the desire and ability to reach out and find them. We have been able to build such a strong internship program because we did not settle for just looking at the "traditional" methods of attracting talent or by just targeting the "well-known" schools to find talent. We have also partnered with many niche organizations such as Recruit Military, Diversitylnc., and LatPro to expand our reach.

My passion is also driven by the support I have received from the leaders within our organization who understand and embrace the value of creating a diverse organization and the vision to allow us in Talent Acquisition to go out and find that talent.

The Black Collegian: What are the goals of the internship program at RAI?

Carter: The mission of our internship program is two-fold. First, is to bring a highly qualified, diverse pool of candidates into our organization to give them "real-life" work experience, while simultaneously giving the Company an opportunity to assess the candidate's skills for future full-time positions as we continue to build our pipeline of diverse bench-strength. We are attaining those goals with having 85% of the candidates we make internship offers, accepting the challenge and joining our organization.

The Black Collegian: How long have you been responsible for RAI's Internships and University Relations?

Carter: I took over the responsibilities of the MBA Internship Program approximately two years ago and although it was already a robust program, we were not tapping into the diverse pool of candidates we wanted in order to enhance our talent company-wide. …