HBCU Interns Drive Chevrolet Marketing to Fresh Perspective


If a company internship imparts some wisdom to the students it employs, that’s typically good enough. If those interns teach a company about itself, turn weaknesses into strengths and create a better future for everyone involved, that’s the ideal outcome.

Seven years ago, General Motors paired its Chevrolet brand with the National Newspaper Publishers Association (NNPA) to launch “Discover the Unexpected,” a 10-week internship and scholarship program that allows HBCU students to try marketing with Chevrolet and community-based journalism with the NNPA. This year, 10 students from Howard, Morehouse, Delaware State, Florida A&M and Hampton received a $10,000 scholarship and an $8,000 stipend while spending the summer developing their skills on the road.

Over the summer, Chevy’s DTU interns took a 2024 Chevy Trax across the U.S. while creating social-media content based on the vehicle’s safety features that multicultural agency of record Carol H. Williams turned into digital content for the NNPA site. With help from Chevy’s social, experiential and customer-relationship management teams, students took the Trax from a boot camp session with marketers and mentors in Detroit to the NNPA National Convention in Nashville, a Tennessee State University DTU content shoot, the HBCU Swingman Classic during Major League Baseball’s All-Star game in Seattle and behind-the-scenes at a Chevrolet Ride and Drive event.

So far, the program has given 59 students from 22 different HBCUs more than $750,000, but also an opportunity to advance their careers. Three former DTU fellows have since been hired by GM, with one returning as an intern in GM’s communications department this year. More have been hired by NNPA publications, with this year’s fellows contributing to the The Tennessee Tribune, Washington Informer, Philadelphia Tribune, Atlanta Voice, Houston Forward Time and Dallas Examiner.

“​​What we see as a huge opportunity is pipeline development,” said Charles Chapman, GM’s multicultural marketing manager who leads the DTU program. “In terms of bringing in these students, they’re green, they’re learning, but what we’ve done is uncover a number of gems.”

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