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Less Is More (Impactful) With Tailored Early Career Programs

Spotify’s Early Career team exists to cultivate opportunities and incubating programs, with a focal point on underrepresented talent. We believe that these programs can be career affirming for the emerging and experienced talent, and contribute to reaching business goals on a global scale.

We learn and iterate as we go at Spotify, and that’s what we’ve done with our early career programming too. We’ve been setting ourselves up to gain a deeper understanding of what works best for us and why. Now, when the most merit for any HR work comes from the ability to be prudent, this reflection and evaluation work is paying off, as we’re in the best position to be able to streamline, refine and tailor our programs for the maximum impact. 

Taking a more tailored approach with our offerings allows us to focus on alignment with the business and our target demographic as well as increasing underrepresentation; critical components for success. 

Addressing Underrepresentation in Our Early Career Programs

Efforts to increase representation are threaded through all of our early career programs. We fully understand the value of talent from different backgrounds and experiences joining the band – it affords us the opportunity to evolve and innovate. If we were to consistently hire band members with the same resume or profile, we would stay stagnant and hinder our growth. 

When thinking of representation, we tend to focus on ethnicity (where we are able to measure it), gender and even experience and background. The Opening Act and Aspiring Marketing Professionals are just a few of our programs designed to attract talent who are ethnically diverse. There’s also the intersectionality of gender diversity to be considered when we are targeting various ethnicities, so we do our best to leverage those opportunities and attract talent identifying across the entire gender spectrum and underrepresented ethnicities. 

When taking diversity of experiences into account, our Tech Fellowship program is a great example of how we seek talent with non-traditional experiences. The vast majority of our hires in this program do not have a formal college degree in Computer Science. Rather they have attended an engineering boot camp, immersive program or have even been self taught. 

While our Global Summer Internship program is not solely tailored for underrepresented groups, we make a conscious effort to attract various underrepresented talent into our recruitment process. For example, when visiting college campuses we will engage with student organizations such as Society of Women Engineers and the National Society of Black Engineers. 

To further assist in identifying underrepresented talent for our roles, we partner with many organizations across the world. Sponsors for Educational Opportunity, Blacks in Technology, Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, Out4Undergrad, Bright, Beela and Data Tjej are just a few examples of the partners we leverage to accomplish our goal to increase representation. 

Alignment With The Business

It’s imperative that early career programs are aligned with business goals and objectives, reflective of our company culture and values, and appeal to our target demographic. That’s why we don’t host programs year after year just for tradition’s sake. We take an annual inventory of our programs and partner with leaders to determine whether they are making a direct impact on the organization. That’s our indicator on whether it still makes sense to continue offering the programs or to discontinue. When evaluating our programs we look at a few key metrics: number of hires, percentage of conversion to full-time permanent employees, retention and promotion. Through our early career work we’re shaping the future of Spotify’s workforce. It’s important that not only are we bringing valuable junior talent into the organization, but that they’re staying and growing with us.

In the same vein, every year we look at our business goals and objectives and contemplate whether an early career offering can help achieve those goals. Understanding what new initiatives are on the horizon and identifying skill gaps help us tailor new programs accordingly. At times we’re faced with making tough decisions as many programs are fun, and loved by many. However, if it doesn’t align with our company goals and make business sense, we must either put them on the shelf for potential return in the future or sunset them all together. Although it’s a tough decision, keeping only what’s most important and believing that “less is more” is key to having impact. 

The core of our work comes from Spotify’s values: Collaborative, Sincere, Passionate, Playful, and Innovative. Keeping the values top of mind ensures further alignment to the business and that our hires are fully immersed in our culture. 

Tailored Programs

Tailoring programs to satisfy specific needs and fill voids is very necessary to make an impact and accomplish our business goals. It’s one thing hiring individuals to fill open roles, but looking at the organization holistically for current roadblocks and future needs is our strategy when developing Early Career programs. For example, we tailored a Finance Analyst Rotational (FAR) program after realizing that  the 10-12 weeks as an intern wasn’t enough to prepare hires for a career in finance at Spotify. So we launched a robust 2-year rotation program where each FAR Analyst gains a meaningful experience and a holistic view of Spotify’s finance organization. Another example is our Rotational Product Management (RPM) program where we not only hire, but also train and upskill talent to grow within Spotify and after some time eventually become leaders in Spotify’s product space. 

Spotify’s Early Careers Programs of The Future

As we look towards the future of our early career programs we’re open-minded about what initiatives will be in the mix and how they might be tailored, but we’re certain that continuing to focus on increasing representation and aligning to both the business goals and our target demographic, will be our secret to success. So, we’ll continue to assess the return on each program investment, and stay bold and brave enough to kill some darlings when needed.

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