INtern Connects Students with Virtual Job Opportunities
Rising seniors Brittany He and Julia Jones worked on their online small-job-sourcing program as one of two teams in this summer’s Haverford Innovation Program Incubator.
Finished school and looking to start your career? There’s an app for that. In fact, there are many (LinkedIn, Indeed, ZipRecruiter, CCPA’s Handshake, etc.). But what if you are a busy college student looking to gain experience in your future field but unable to commit to full-time, long-term, or location-based work? That’s where INterm comes in.
The app was dreamed up by environmental studies major Julia Jones BMC ’21 after experiencing how hard it was to find a summer job with little professional experience and no means of commuting. Doing some virtual projects for an aunt who is a lawyer—managing her contacts in Outlook, advertising her webinars—led to referrals to other colleagues who needed similar help.
“Before I knew it, I was managing a small network of busy professionals, learning valuable communication skills, enhancing my technical abilities, and learning first-hand how businesses of all types are run,” said Jones. “And more importantly, I soon had a bunch of real-life job experiences that I could confidently list on a resume.”
Jones realized that employers who need that kind of virtual help and students who need paid work and early-career experience could be mutually beneficial if only they had the means of connecting with one another.
“College students often get stuck in a cycle of needing a job, but needing job experience to get that job,” she said. “Traditional, in-person jobs often require strict time and location commitments that aren’t always feasible for students who are engaged on campus. INtern is meant to help students gain real-world experience while they are still in school by connecting with busy professionals in their desired career area for virtual work.”
On campus, Jones connected with Brittany He ’21, a math and computer science double major, to provide the necessary technical coding expertise for her project. The two then applied to the Haverford Innovation Program’s Incubator, where they hoped to spend their summer in Haverford’s VCAM building working with mentors and HIP Associate Program Director Shayna Nickel toward the creation of a “minimally viable product”—a beta version of their app. They were accepted to the program, one of two teams in the incubator’s third summer of existence.
“For this cycle we had a number of compelling applications,” said Nickel. “But INtern [was selected because] the concept, a platform for remote work postings and thus a skills and resume-building opportunity for college students, felt well thought-out and timely.”
But COVID-19 made in-person work impossible, and Jones and He had to adapt to working remotely with each other and their incubator facilitators. And it was not without challenges. He’s off-campus apartment, where she was sheltering in place all spring and summer, suffered electrical outages and unstable connectivity networks at times. And while Nickel was able to help the INtern team create protocols and contingency plans to work through those connectivity impediments, other challenges had nothing to do with the global pandemic.
“In the past, [incubator] web app-development projects have had three members,” said Nickel. “This was the first year a team only had one member dedicated to development. Brittany worked solo to learn to be a full-stack developer. Knowing this would be a challenge, HIP looked to provide various means of support, including asking Casey Falk ’16 to return as a mentor.”
But He rose to the challenge of working as a solo developer, and as this summer’s incubator draws to a close, the INtern team is finishing up their beta version: a website that allows both students and employers to create an account with basic profiles and, based on their stated interests and needs, can match appropriate workers to open jobs.
“We both have really high hopes for INtern, especially given the feedback we have received from mentors, user interviews, and investors,” said the team in a joint statement. “Fortunately we are planning to continue our work even after the incubator to see how far we can take this thing.”
“This project directly connects to my major and career path as I want to be a full-stack developer,” said He. “I hope that college students will use our platform to look for internships in the near future.”