Ask the average university student about work experience or job prospects after graduation and you might see a panicked look in their eye as they explain that they’re not quite sure about what they’re going to do, but they’re open to anything and will be looking around.
A new Sydney startup hopes to take that panicked look out of students’ eyes by helping them find relevant work experience while they’re still at university. BuzieBee connects students with businesses who need help completing projects in areas such as data analysis, financial modelling, mobile app development.
Yige Ma, one of BuzieBee’s three cofounders, came up with the idea when she was tutoring students at university and saw many of them struggling to find jobs after graduating due to a lack of relevant work experience.
“We wanted to build a bridge; I thought we could connect students with businesses to complete projects so that they get the required experience before they graduate. I also used to work as a management consultant, and found that there were a lot of projects where businesses didn’t actually need consultants to complete the work and could have gotten a talented uni student in. This would save the company’s costs and help students get experience at the same time,” Ma explained.
Similar to any job board, businesses can post ads on the platform, but instead of advertising a full time role they will advertise a six to eight week position on a project. Ma is adamant that as businesses will be profiting from the work the students help complete, the positions must be paid.
“We think unpaid internships just don’t make any sense and that everyone should get paid for the work they provide. Project work is shorter, whereas internships are very time-driven, usually for 3 months or 6 months. With BuzieBee you can have six different projects over six months and get six different people to help you,” Ma said.
While it’s free for both businesses and students to sign up, BuzieBee charges businesses 20 percent of the completed project fee.
Launched last week, the startup has partnered with several MBA programs to launch consulting-based projects in the coming months. It has also seen the businesses on the platform during the testing period spread the word to others, though Ma believes BuzieBee still needs to work on educating potential users about the platform and its benefits.
“Students love the idea because it’s beneficial to them. The business part is a little mixed. Some are really interested and we’ve got a few projects going already. Some bigger companies think it’s really interesting and innovative but aren’t quite sure if they should begin using it in place of their traditional internship or work experience recruitment process,” Ma said.
It’s easy to see why students would be excited about the platform – universities are constantly telling them that they need to find relevant work experience in order to stand out from the crowd when it comes to life after graduation. However, with the benefits of a long unpaid internship debatable, a platform offering relevant paid work on a short term basis is attractive. The startup is targeting students ranging from undergraduates through to PhD candidates and recent graduates.
With growing the number of businesses and projects on the platform at the top of the to do list, Ma also wants to see BuzieBee become the go-to platform for businesses looking to fill full time roles.
“BuzieBee can help businesses test drive all the top talent for future hire. We want to be the go-to platform for businesses when they’re looking to recruit top talent before they even graduate.”