Universal Music Group, the world’s largest music company, has launched a paid internship program specifically for Historically Black Colleges and Universities, the company announced Thursday. UMG partnered with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund, which represents publicly funded HBCUs across the country, calling itself the largest organization representing black colleges exclusively.
The internship program will bring in as many as 50 students and recent graduates for internships at UMG’s Los Angeles and New York offices starting next summer and will also provide financial support for the interns’ travel and housing expenses, UMG said. Internship opportunities span across much of UMG’s departments and labels for positions in marketing, A&R, music publishing among many others.
UMG’s Task Force for Meaningful Change spearheaded the program’s creation. UMG founded the Task Force this past summer as the broader music industry sought out solutions to address its own issues of racial inequality following George Floyd’s death in May. Motown Records President and Capitol Music Group Executive Vice President Ethiopia Habtemariam co-chairs the the Task Force with Jeff Harleston, UMG’s general counsel and executive vice president of legal affairs and the interim CEO of Def Jam Recordings.
“This program reflects UMG’s dedication and responsibility to provide a more diverse and inclusive future and we are thrilled to partner with the Thurgood Marshall College Fund,” the two co-chairs said in a statement. “This internship program highlights both the remarkable talent within HBCUs and the commitment of our company, labels and brands to keep creating new pathways for identifying the next generation of industry leaders.”
The internship program is one of several educational initiatives the company announced Thursday, along with helping fund and resource South Africa’s National School of the Arts to save it from closure, and with providing schools and nonprofits like Boys and Girls Clubs of America across the U.S. with essential remote learning technology including Wi-Fi hotspots and laptops.
Nicole Wyskoarko, executive vice president and co-head of A&R for Interscope Geffen A&M and the Task Force’s internal committee co-chair, noted the educational impact HBCUs have for African Americans and the importance of working more directly with the schools to bring more diverse talent to UMG.
“This partnership is an important opportunity for the investment in the development of HBCU student career pathways into the music industry,” she said in a statement. “Today, while HBCUs make up 3% of all higher education institutions in this country, they produce 25% of our country’s African American college graduates. This program is an important and exciting initiative that will only enhance the development of future leaders at UMG and the music industry at large.”