by Forbes Contributor, Benjamin Laker

Many of today's most successful leaders started their careers as interns. Oprah Winfrey started as an intern at WLAC-TV, Bill Gates was a Congressional Page, Tom Hanks at a local theater festival in Cleveland. And today's interns, of course, are the future leaders of our country.

That's why every year, WayUp -- the leading platform for employers to recruit diverse, qualified talent -- publishes a Top 100 Internship Programs List (now in its fifth year) to celebrate those companies who are giving students a headstart to their careers. Thousands of companies have nominated themselves to the list over the past five years by submitting dozens of data points about their programs, from diversity data to conversion rates (the percentage of interns who later get hired full-time), and then a panel of qualified judges reviews each submission, while also taking into account votes from the public. This yields a list of 100 programs deemed the top in the country, along with one stand-out program (last year, Citi won the coveted award).

There are a few things that set 2021's cohort of interns apart from prior years. For one, many of this year's interns are a part of Gen Z, the most diverse generation yet. 

Fortunately, many companies improved their DE&I practices in 2020 and 2021 -- in fact, a recent survey of 42 large U.S. technology companies found that about two-thirds of companies made some kind of DE&I policy change after the summer 2020 protests. For many employers, these policy changes included reconsidering how they recruit and hire diverse interns. 

This summer's intern class is not only a great indicator of who will be shaping the world's future workforce, but it's also a great indicator of which companies are dedicated to ensuring that our future is diverse, inclusive, and equitable. We can look to and learn from the companies committed to shaping a future we can all be proud of. 


Here are the Top 100 Internship Programs for 2021.