Intern Pursuit is a complete end-to-end HR management platform for employers that manage intern talent, with schools and students benefiting also. The Intern Pursuit platform trains employees in leadership and mentoring skills they need to best manage a student, which helps the student develop hard and power skills necessary to accept an entry-level job after graduation. Thanks to the platform Intern Pursuit is developing, schools, career services, and academic departments can ensure their students gain hands-on experience beyond the classroom.
Around 70% of internships with small- to medium-sized businesses are unpaid. The U.S. Department of Labor has 7 criteria for employers to meet when offering unpaid internships. But fulfilling those criteria is not the same thing as providing a productive and meaningful internship experience. Isabella Johnston, founder and CEO of Intern Pursuit, knew that beyond protecting the student—which thereby protects the employer—companies need more tools to ensure their internship programs benefited both them and the students they brought on.
With her experience in academia, HR, and HR learning & training, Isabella could see exactly what businesses were missing: systems. Many small- to medium-sized businesses don’t have a dedicated HR person, which means they’re unlikely to have onboarding protocols, training programs, or an easy way to document their interns’ progress. Additionally, companies don’t always understand that interns are best utilized in completing projects—not in operations better left to an employee or contractor.
“The most important thing about working with employers is helping them to identify really good talent for their business, and then be able to act on that,” Isabella says. “I have one foot in business and the other in education, and I wondered, How can I help both sides? Employers want talent and want help getting projects done. Students need real resume-worthy skills and opportunities.”
Helping both companies and interns achieve their desired outcomes involves gathering a lot of data. Isabella and her team are using this data to build AI metrics to see what comes out of the assessments the students take, which helps to improve training programs for both interns and the employees assigned to help them. Thanks to Intern Pursuit’s being located in Starter Studio, Intern Pursuit and Isabella helped Starter Studio’s interns document all of internal operation processes and inventories which created a training program for future hospitality interns to succeed when working at StarterStudio—something that did not exist before.
There are many different ways that companies in any industry can benefit from a robust internship program. If an employee is teaching a student entry-level job skills by delegating to that student, then that frees that employee to be able to do more.- Isabella Johnston, founder and CEO of Intern Pursuit
Intern Pursuit gives employers the tools they need to benefit from an interns’ projects that may lie outside their team’s experience. Think of a startup tech company, for example, with no employee dedicated to digital marketing. Intern Pursuit allows such companies to bring on interns with knowledge outside the employees’ own—and still benefit from whatever the student’s project may be.
Intern Pursuit has garnered international interest because of Isabella’s participation in conferences like Web Summit, which draws over 70,000 participants from around the world, and the traction she’s received from Starter Studio’s ideation program, followed by UCF’s I-Corps. But no matter how far abroad the Intern Pursuit platform may be found, Isabella has not lost focus on helping the students, schools, and employers of Orlando.
“We have amazing schools in this area, and because of them, we have this amazing talent pool. There’s also opportunity,” Isabella says. “We want to stay here to help grow the ecosystem.”