What I learnt from matching students with internship placements

The result of a strike action by university lecturers in Nigeria

It all started on Monday, August 14th when the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU) declared a nationwide indefinite strike action in Nigeria. My remaining 6 weeks in school turned to ‘undefined’. At the time, I was consulting for some big companies in Nigeria mapping out strategies for programs and products as well as running a startup. I didn’t feel that much of an impact. On getting to school on this Monday morning, I saw a number of my colleagues (final year students) lamenting on what to do during the strike. Most of them have no specific skill to market. Those who may have the skills don’t have the connections to get placements.

My Facebook post on Monday

The Idea

I’ve had the opportunity to work at various companies and also meet many people at events (including training events). I have this massive network of founders, CEOs and hiring managers. On the other hand, I have a bunch of disgruntled final year students as friends. Some have skills but cannot easily find placements. I took to my social media to announce my intention to match strike-affected students with internships.

Marrying companies with students 📷 Pexels

For the companies

Hiring is not easy. We all know recruitment is getting harder by the day. The reason for internships is for companies to get access to talent as early as possible and develop through the stage of specialization. This project was intended to give companies that kind of leverage. Students are passionate and ready to learn and work.

For the students

Getting experience is harder than ever internship placements and entry-level jobs are not readily available. Instead of waiting on ASUU that may have the strike run for months, they get a chance to learn on the job which builds them for the future (when they graduate and the aftermath of that).

Golden Quote

The Execution

I created a separate email using my startup’s G Suite account. I set up a spreadsheet to track internship applications and companies interest. After which I asked interested students to send their CVs to asuu@bytemars.com. I had set up an automation through Zapier that automatically adds the CVs to my Drive and sends the data received from the email to the spreadsheet created. I input the interests of companies manually because they were scattered in my comment boxes.

I had five separate categories for CV received:

  • CVs with skills that match the interest of one or more companies. These are matched immediately.
  • CVs with skills but do not match any of the interests already declared by companies. I wait on these hoping I find a relevant employer. A sequel social media post can be made to re-market them.
  • CVs with skills but no clear focus. I ask for more information about what they are more passionate about. For instance, some students have web development, digital marketing and graphic design skills. These are inter-related but clearly different. I ask for a focus before matching them.
  • CVs with some skills that need a portfolio. You don’t send a CV without your GitHub or Behance profile as a developer or designer. You must have an existing portfolio of you playing around stuff or working with clients. I asked them for links to their portfolio. If no portfolio, they move to the fifth category. With portfolio, they move to the first or second
  • CVs without skills but a clear focus. I go online, search for resources and send to them.

The Lessons

From reviewing CVs to matching internships, I learnt a lot and have a piece of advice for people who are looking for internship placements. The internship is for gaining experience with a skill you already have. That is completely different from learning a skill. Companies are likely to hire you as an intern if you have a skill already even when you have no experience. It’s easier to learn on the job if you won’t be asking your boss about things you should know or can easily google.

Also, follow simple instructions when applying for jobs. I asked that people send their CVs to a specific email address but not everyone was able to do that. A particular applicant told me his name and school and asked that I consider him. There is no way to know what he does or what he knows. How else do I match him?

Try to be focused. There is no crime in having diverse skills but know what you are looking for. If you have skills that are far apart, it is advisable you have different CVs for different roles they apply to. For instance, if you are looking for a digital marketing internship, skills like web development and design can be posed as add-ons but not core like digital marketing-related ones.

The Metrics

It has been overwhelming as I solely reviewed every single CV that came in. So far, 17 companies showed interest in hiring 33 interns. 58 students sent in their CVs. As at the time of writing, 100% of the CVs submitted have been reviewed and 24.1% of the students have been matched. 62% has at least one skill while the other 38% has none. The numbers are negligible compared to the millions of students affected by ASUU strike. This is a one-man project and I can’t service millions of people. However, I have drafted next steps for other affected students.

Next steps

I really hope to do more as there’s more to be done but this is ad hoc and I need to focus on other projects I’m working on as well. I’m slowing things down on this internship matching project and I will shut it down finally in a couple of days. I implore students affected by ASUU strike and have skills to check placements.com.ng or stutern.com and apply for internships through the platforms. A company looking for interns has asked that interested applicants apply here.

Others who are unable to get internship placements could check these resources compiled by Solomon. There is nothing you cannot learn online or on your own. I self-learned most of what I know today but the story about that is for another day.

I’ll end with my fave three words: Never stop learning! 💪

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