Hire an Intern from the Step Up Young Luminaries Internship Program

Looking for an intern? Hire a Step Up Young Luminary this summer

  • Pre-qualified high-school interns from the top of their class
  • Cost-effective paid internship
  • An excellent way of pulling up the next generation of women leaders


Kristen (at) SUWN (dot) org

Sara's speech given at the close of the 2008 Young Luminary Program

Thank you for the kind introduction. If I have not had the privilege of meeting you, my name is Sara Holoubek and I am a consultant and columnist in the tech sector.  Or as I like to say, an “aspiring luminary.” (After all, we should all aspire to be something. I aspire to be really smart some day.)

When I first heard that StepUp had a Young Luminary Summer Internship program, well, how could I say no? It was through this program that I met Talia, who spent her summer interning for me.

For those not familiar with the program, Step Up selects a group of motivated and talented high school students to participate. They learn to write resumes, receive professional skills training, practice interviewing and make company visits. The bar is high, and not everyone gets to move on to the next step: securing an internship with a host company for 8 weeks. Those who don’t make the cut are given constructive feedback for the next year.

From a strict business perspective, the Young Luminary Summer Internship program makes sense. I got a pre-qualified intern to get the job done; Talia got some experience and earned some cool cash over the summer.

So what did we do over the 8 weeks?

  • Talia uploaded endless images to a database
  • I learned a lot about her favorite store, Forever 21, and dress selection process
  • We quickly learned that there is a generational difference when it comes to communication platforms. (email vs. text. vs. IM) While I speak and write about these platforms frequently, there’s nothing like experiencing this first hand!
  • Talia attended a function where Barack Obama gave a keynote 
  • We held a meeting with Iconix, a fashion conglomerate with a portfolio of brands such as Candies, Badgley Mischka, Joe Boxer, Danskin and others.
  • I realized that it is time I get an office

But of course, participating in such a program is more than a business relationship. It is about giving back, and more importantly, about pulling the next generation up as one climbs the ladder.

In my industry, I am usually the only woman in the boardroom. And for the first 6 years or so, I got used to that fact.

But 5 years ago, I found myself as the only female C-level executive in a rapidly growing, well-funded company. My responsibilities and team were growing daily, and for the first time, I realized that I needed, well, an old girls club.
So I asked my former CEO for a female mentor, someone who had been there and done that dozens of times.  He said “you can hire anyone you want.” I’m not sure he got the point.

It was around this time that I discovered an article by Lisa Mainiero, entitled “The Longest Climb. How powerful women get to the top.” Mainiero, having interviewed 55 top female executives, found that their careers had 4 stages: Political Naivete, Building Credibility, Refining a Style, and Shouldering Responsibility. While written in 1994, the article remains a favorite read; I pull it out every 6 months or so to remind myself of where I am on that path.

But the stage I enjoy reading about the most is the last: the Shouldering Responsibility stage. While one would think that a career peak leaves little time for mentoring, Mainiero found that the most successful women “had open-door policies for men and women who needed career advice. They were accessible and willing to give of their time.”

At some point, I realized that I didn’t need to wait until I was at the top to pull others up. And so the more I give back, and the more I participate in programs such as the Young Luminary Internship program, the more realize that pulling up along the way is how we collectively get to the top.