By Christina Collins
This past fall, I was fortunate enough to land an internship with the very publication you are reading. Most people, however, are not so lucky. In today’s economy, internships are harder to get than ever. College students and graduates are lucky to secure any internship at all, never mind a paid one. To make matters worse, résumés look hollow without one. Employers take one look and think, “No internship? No experience. No thanks!”
The problem inspired two college friends from Shrewsbury ~ Dan Chaparian and Matt Donovan ~ to take action. This past fall, they teamed up with two other friends, Anand Chopra-McGowan and Nikhil Srivastava, to create an online community called YouIntern. At YouIntern.com, college students can review their past and current internships, and employers can post open ones. There are also blogs, a search engine, and a place where you can create your own internship portfolio.
“We are a group of young, nimble entrepreneurs who are building something from scratch with little capital but a lot of determination,” explained Chaparian, a 2007 graduate of Boston University. YouIntern was inspired by the differing internship experiences that Chaparian and his business partners had in college. “Some were educational and inspiring,” says Chaparian, “but others were more menial and disenfranchising.” The tagline for YouIntern, “Freedom from coffee and copies,” says a lot about the organization’s mission: to help potential interns to not only find internships, but find ones that are meaningful and rewarding. No one wants to be that intern who makes the boss’s coffee, stuffs envelopes, and makes copies of documents that have nothing to do with your career aspirations.
“We thought that all students needed a forum to share their internship experiences and…further their careers by securing new internships on the website,” Chaparian says enthusiastically. Consequently, YouIntern has placed dozens of interns and has built successful relationships with employers around the country, including StrawberryFrog, Burson-Marsteller, Hearst Publishing, Cliff Freeman & Partners, and The Week magazine.
Why have internships become so essential anyway? According to Chaparian, job-seeking has become so competitive that it is now necessary to have professional experience early in your career. “Employers need to see that students can demonstrate reliability and professionalism. That is most evident through an internship ~ a hands-on working experience that replicates a full-time job while giving students a taste of a particular career path.” YouIntern’s goal is to create an easy way for students to find and apply for internships, review them, and get expert advice on their professional skills. “We are working hard to make YouIntern the most efficient resource for employers to harness young talent, from the managing of resumes and applications to the final hiring process.” With optimistic spirit, Chaparian adds, “We hope that all users find this process streamlined through YouIntern.”
To find out for yourself, visit YouIntern.com.