Internships are on the mind for many following the government’s launch in last week’s federal budget of a new scheme to help young Australians gain work experience. With businesses taking part receiving $1,000 up front to take on an intern and interns themselves receiving $200 a fortnight, advocacy groups said the scheme could see businesses take advantage of young workers for free labour. Internships have also been an issue in the startup space for some time.
Now a new Australian startup has launched looking to ensure it connects students with legitimate internship opportunities, which ideally see interns go through thoughtfully developed programs that allow them to learn real job skills relevant to their field of study.
Founded by Jayden Kafanelis and Dylan Trickey, InternMe allows companies to post targeted roles and then track the progress of the intern with the goal to stop the cycle of needing experience to get experience.
Trickey said the idea came from his time searching for a job in marketing after finishing his degree, and seeing that every role posted required experience.
“My blood started to boil because I couldn’t get experience if I had no job? It was a vicious cycle and obviously most students had no experience, so they had no chance of successfully applying for jobs like these,” he said.
While it’s true that students can simply take the initiative to contact companies for internships themselves, a centralised platform collating opportunities makes it easier for everyone.
Asking fellow students and hearing of experiences similar to his own, Trickey said he approached lifelong friend Kafanelis about taking the idea on. Putting in their own money and finding a private investor, they developed the first iteration of the platform with a freelancer but, after some difficulties, are now in the process of transitioning to a development agency.
As it currently stands the InternMe platform allows students to create virtual portfolios where they can input academic transcripts, their work history, testimonials, and video resumes to help employers quickly assess their interpersonal skills, while a Skype plugin allows interviews to be carried out over the platform.
Companies post opportunities to the platform with specific filters, such as a third year marketing undergraduate. Company accounts can also track an individual’s progress throughout their internship through a feedback system, monthly reports, and KPIs.
It’s this feature that is perhaps most interesting, given the debate around unpaid internships and whether companies are giving interns legitimate learning experiences or just exploiting them for free labour.
Having companies track progress could help ensure that they put in the time to create structured internship programs, while Trickey said he and Kafanelis also meet with companies before bringing them on to the platform to gauge their attitude.
“On the site we also have a specific set of terms and conditions which companies adhere to on registration. This means that they acknowledge that all the positions they offer are legitimate and comply with Australian law,” Trickey said.
According to Trickey, InternMe’s target market is “reputable companies with an established brand equity,” with he and Kafanelis looking to bring them on by good old cold calling. So far they have 22 companies on board, with 450 students across various degrees.
The startup faces significant competition however, with a number of other platforms working in this space. Sydney startup The New Kid helps students find paid internships, for example, while the CSIRO’s Data61 has been working to create Ribit, allowing students to find internships, part time jobs, or one off projects.
Despite Ribit’s extensive connections to industry through its relationship with Data61 – albeit focused on startups and tech – Trickey believes InternMe is coming to the market from a fresh angle.
“Our company was created by students for students, we differ because we know how to market to students. We know how they eat, sleep, drink, eat, where they hang out and their thinking process,” he said.
“Other platforms don’t use detailed reports of students, where their virtual profile is visible for employers. Other platforms such as Ribit offer one-off at home projects and opportunities whereas we offer detailed positions at reputable companies that bring valuable experiences to the student.”
InternMe is currently free for both students and companies, though the website also lists paid packages for companies. An $89 package allows a company to post 1 opportunity on the platform for 30 days, while $200 lets them advertise multiple opportunities for three months.
Looking ahead, Trickey said the startup will be pitching at the Startup Victoria pitching competition in the hopes of taking out the $50,000 prize, with a view to find other investment if unsuccessful.
Image: Dylan Trickey and Jayden Kafanelis. Source: Supplied.