Unusual Ventures Unveils Internship Program Focused on Placing Historically Black College and University Students in Engineering Roles at Technology Companies


MENLO PARK, Calif., March 13, 2019 — Unusual Ventures, an early-stage venture capital firm redefining seed investing, today announced the launch of Unusual Interns, a program designed to increase the number of black students working in technical internships throughout Silicon Valley. As part of the program, Unusual Ventures will connect students from historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) with leading technology companies in Silicon Valley. 

According to the State of Black America 2018 report, fewer than five percent of the workforce at tech companies today is African American. By contrast, at least half of the workforce in these companies is white. The Unusual Interns Program is an effort to help close this representation gap in the technology industry by substantially increasing the number of black students working in technical roles.

Since the firm’s inception, co-founders John Vrionis and Jyoti Bansal have pledged to incorporate ersity into their limited partner (LP) base by engaging with a number of HBCUs. The goal of this unusual model is to drive wealth creation back to the community and help create change for the greater good, a departure from the traditional venture capital model. The Unusual Interns Program will take this mission a step further by connecting students from some of their LP base, as well as other HBCUs, to the tech community.

“From day one, the Unusual team has been committed to bridging the ersity gap in Silicon Valley,” said John Vrionis, co-founder and managing partner, Unusual Ventures. “Because of our connections, location in the heart of the tech industry, and the work we do every day, the Unusual Interns Program is the logical next step to furthering our mission of driving change in our community. It’s one thing to talk about ersity, but it’s another to do something to help. We are taking an active approach to bringing the change our industry so desperately needs.”

The Unusual Interns Program features partnerships between Unusual Ventures, the United Negro College Fund (UNCF), and administrations from selected HBCUs, such as Howard University, Hampton University, Spelman College, Morehouse College, Alabama A&M University, and North Carolina A&T State University.

In the program pilot this summer, computer science students from these top institutions will be nominated and recruited to complete a 10-12 week internship at respected technology companies, such as DataStax, Harness, Zola, and Zscaler, with the opportunity for full-time employment. Students will have access to technical roles, including fullstack engineering, hardware, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.

“At Zola, we have prioritized team ersity in order to best serve our erse customer base,” said Shan-Lyn Ma, CEO and co-founder, Zola. “Including ersity in our core values has been tremendous for our business. The Zola team is thrilled to further our focus on ersity by participating in the inaugural Unusual Interns Program and hope it inspires many more of its kind across our industry.”

Prior to the commencement of their internships, students will also have the opportunity to complete a six week spring bootcamp with a multi-faceted curriculum hosted by Lambda School. This online coursework will help sharpen the students’ skill sets in an effort to bolster their effectiveness during their internship.

The Unusual team will also bridge the gap by offering students both professional and personal development on a bi-weekly basis during the internship period to help enhance their careers. This development will ensure the students have access to experts in their field, consistent professional support, and insight into future opportunities for them in their field.

Alabama A&M University is thrilled to partner with the Unusual Ventures team to help get more of our CS students employed in Silicon Valley,” said Yvette Clayton, Director, Career Development Services, Alabama A&M University. “The opportunities this program presents to our students, such as internships at top technology companies and access to the spring boot camp, will be life changing. We have no doubt that our students will add value to these companies and learn quite a lot. John Vrionis and Jyoti Bansal are pioneers in many regards and we thank them for their vision and commitment to ersity. We look forward to a long-standing and productive partnership.”

For more on the Unusual Intern Program, please visit www.alblackgirlinventure.com/home/2019/3/12/unusualinternsprogram.

Unusual Ventures is a seed-stage venture capital firm designed from the ground up to give a distinctive advantage to both consumer and enterprise entrepreneurs. Unusual is rethinking the venture capital engagement model by serving entrepreneurs with programmatic and hands-on services, such as Unusual Academy and the Get Ahead Platform, and by engaging with a number of HBCUs and other community-based organizations, including non-profits and children’s hospitals, as their limited partner base. Described as a partner versus a top down stakeholder by its portfolio companies, Unusual is laser focused on serving exceptional founders, world-class teams, and innovative products. For more information, visit: www.unusual.vc 

Unusual Ventures PR

SOURCE Unusual Ventures

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