Next Wednesday (February 29), InternMatch will be hosting what it's calling "the largest ever internship hangout" and the first of its kind on the Google+ platform. The startup is teaming up with 6 major companies for a day-long, streaming video event to help educate students about various elements of the internship process -- from how to land an internship to how to turn an internship into a job offer.
That's becoming an increasingly important skill as having a college degree is no guarantee that a student will find employment. (According to recent numbers from the Bureau of Labor, the unemployment rate for 18-24 year olds is 16.3% compared to 8.8% for all adults). Internships aren't a silver bullet to youth unemployment, of course, but landing an internship ups one's chances at finding employment substantially -- 70% of interns are actually offered jobs at the places they intern.
But finding and landing the right internship is easier said than done.
In many ways, the traditional internship and recruiting processes are broken -- or at least, many campus job fairs and the like are dominated by major corporations looking for only certain majors. That makes it difficult for small companies, startups and non-profits to find interns, and it also makes it challenging for students whose interests and majors fall outside certain professions to find internship opportunities. Some companies also charge students money with the promise of placement at a particular company.
Enter InternMatch, a three-year old company started by college students aimed at making the process better for companies and students (and the service is free to students). As the name suggests, Internmatch helps match companies and students, aiding with the job posting and application processes.
The startup also offers guidance to both students and companies in how to best take advantage of internship opportunities, and the Google Hangout next week is certainly an innovative way to do just that. But it's also another way in which the startup is challenging the way in which the internship process has long worked.
For many students, the whole internship and employment process is a total "black box" -- how do you get an "in" with a company? Who do you talk to? What should you do to help make sure you stand out in a sea of applicants? What sort of questions will be asked during the interview? Hosting the internship event on Google+ will help shed some light on the whole process -- and do so in front of a sizable audience.
CBS Interactive, Google, Ashoka, Salesforce, SiriusXM Radio, and Nestlé Purina PetCare are the participating companies, and each will hold a one-hour session (the full schedule is available here). (Google's topic, for example, is on "hacking the engineering internship application.")
The event will take advantage of Google's new Hangout On Air feature, which means that it will be broadcast live and not restricted to the 10 attendees like a regular Hangout. There will be a small number of pre-selected students who'll be able to join each session via video, but everyone else will still be able to view the event and ask the speakers questions. At the end of the event, InternMatch will hold an "internship advice marathon," where the company's founders and other career mentors will be available online to help students one-on-one.
Although we give a lot of lip service to the idea of "career readiness" and a college education, it's pretty clear that plenty of students don't know some of the basics for landing an internship or a job. InternMatch says it hopes it's Google+ Hangout can help -- and "you don’t have to leave your dorm room!"
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