Simply put, finding an internship used to be a pain in the butt. Cold calling and/or waiting around for a college advisor was never fun. Luckily, the future workforce doesn’t have to endure those pains, thanks in part to YouTern.com.
YouTern connects emerging talent with entrepreneurial-driven companies via internships. Think of it as a (free!) Match.com for ambitious students gearing up to transition into “real” work. YouTern compares the skill set and aspirations of the intern with the specific needs of each company in their database and makes a match.
I recently had a chance to talk with YouTern CEO Mark Babbitt. To say he is passionate about what he is doing would be an understatement.
Jobacle.com: What is YouTern and how does it help internship seekers and employers?
Mark Babbitt, YouTern CEO: YouTern is an online community that connects entrepreneurial-minded companies and emerging talent through internships. With YouTern, start-ups and small-to-medium businesses have a unique resource to find eager talent. And, intern candidates now have a choice: the entry-level “coffee and copy” dash typical of traditional internships at large companies…
Or, the YouTern opportunity – making a difference by working directly with entrepreneurial-minded leaders of inspired start-ups.
Q: Why are internships important?
A: The rules have changed. In our “new” economy, 45% of young adults under 25 remain unemployed. Another 6% – 1.3 million – have abandoned the workforce. And in 2010, 80% of graduates do not expect to have a job lined up for after graduation – up dramatically from just 49% the year before.
Without jobs waiting for them, students must now plan their career paths years in advance – a career-relevant internship is the key to success. In fact, from 2008 to 2010 the number of college students planning to gain critical experience through an internship increased dramatically from 10% to almost 70%. And for good reason: 9 out of 10 direct-from-college jobs will go to students with experiential education on their resumes.
For those entering the workforce, internships are no longer optional.
Q: How is compatibility between a prospective intern and organization determined?
A: One of the most interesting features of YouTern is our matching technologies: think eHarmony.com for internship candidates and employers. YouTern collects parallel data the best reflects their respective needs from each user group. YouTern then analyzes the data against candidate profiles and job postings in our database and returns the closest matches ranked by relevancy.
Q: What is the roll-out plan and when can we expect to see YouTern nationwide?
A: Our original expansion plan was to prove our concept in Silicon Valley and Orange County, then expand into New York, Boston, Washington DC/Baltimore, Raleigh, and Atlanta over the next 8 to 12 months. However, our “California” launch plan seems to have been over-run by interest from across the United States, India, Germany, Italy, Singapore, and more.
Q: Why Intern at a Start-up vs. a Large Corporation?
A: We’re all familiar in some way with the concept of interns. Quite possibly your perception is the stereotype of the young adult beginning their career in the company mailroom. Or, perhaps the hectic “get me coffee” and “make me copies” chores associated with climbing a corporate ladder.
For a start-up or small business, however, mentoring an intern is a great way for your company to gain essential bandwidth, energy, and technical expertise. The intern, in most cases, gains critical experience while satisfying the predisposition to “create” in a small company. Gallup studies show seven out of ten current high school students want to start their own companies. Responding to this Gen Y entrepreneurial tsunami, today more than 2,000 colleges and universities offer entrepreneurship courses – up from the just 70 schools Gen X had to choose from in 1970.
The intense desire of Gen Y talent to make an immediate difference is a compelling reason why an intern candidate would choose a start-up over a Fortune 1000 company. But if you aren’t yet convinced why interns would want to work for a small company like yours, we’ve compiled a “Top 5” list of advantages for interns at a start-up or small business, versus a mega-corporation like IBM, General Motors, or Proctor & Gamble. You’ll find that your company – no matter how small – can benefit greatly from hiring an intern, and has plenty to offer an intern in return.
1. Confidence vs. Questions: In a small team environment, an intern will have more opportunities to voice their opinions and ideas while making a real contribution. Within a small executive staff, interns have a unique opportunity to significantly impact the direction of a project, or even the company itself. At a start-up, an intern will gain the confidence needed to decide the direction of their future, as opposed to questioning their career-related decisions.
2. Experience vs. Escape: An intern at a start-up learns more about running a business, managing staff and vendors, and communicating effectively with customers than they’ll ever learn in a classroom or from a cubicle in a huge corporate department. Rather than watching the clock in an “I can’t wait to get out of here” way, interning at a start-up is a great opportunity to experience the challenge associated with being a responsible team member.
3. Creativity vs. Chores: Successful start-ups survive and prosper through their ability to constantly create and adapt to stay ahead of the game. Start-up companies foster a creative spirit. Rather than negotiating bureaucracy with a corporate to-do list, an enthusiastic intern at a start-up will help you by learning to make quick decisions, and doing more with less.
4. Responsibility vs. Rut: Like you, an intern will wear multiple hats at a start-up – amazing training at ground level for a young professional. As opposed to performing repetitive tasks in a single department at a large corporation, your intern will be working side-by-side with your executive team – the people who had the ambition and passion to strike out on their own. You can delegate tasks and projects to your intern, allowing you more time to focus on running your business.
5. Satisfaction vs. Stress: Start-ups are typically project oriented, and the intern is expected (and expects!) to pull their weight. At a small company, there will be blocks of time where the intern doesn’t have someone to guide them through every step of the assignment, challenging them to take initiative. This combination of circumstances leads to a highly satisfying level of contribution, and a huge win for you though an energetic source of creative ideas. Perhaps your intern might be given the freedom to design and implement an entire strategy for your company (social networking, for example).
An intern program at your small business injects enthusiasm, creativity and youth. In return, the intern benefits immensely from the experience. Intern candidates intentionally seek out companies like yours for career-relevant experience and mentorship. Is your company ready to mentor a motivated intern?