We talked to Isabella Johnston of Intern Pursuit about the HR SaaS solution that provides intelligent intern management for employers from recruitment to transition, and she had the following to say:-
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Isabella Johnston: Everyone is healthy and maintaining social distancing and using LOTS of hand sanitizer.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded Intern Pursuit.
Isabella Johnston: My background is in HR Training/learning and processes and Education (former middle/high school English teacher and adjunct professor). I am a serial entrepreneur with multiple companies. I had clients and business owners asking me how I got such great results from intern talent. They shared their pain points, and I began training employers. From there, I was asked if I could scale how I taught employers. I thought about it and applied to be in an accelerator, StarterStudio, and got ACCEPTED. That is where I conducted LOTS of customer discovery to make sure I would have the product-market fit.
Intern Pursuit launched our MVP platform this quarter. Intern Pursuit is an HR SaaS solution providing intelligent intern management for employers from recruitment to transition. Our proprietary algorithm matches employers to students based on 6 key PowerSkills, job description skills, and culture fit. Employers access personality and skill assessments to identify quality fit, HR onboarding docs, individual development plans for the employer and intern, and a learning academy. Key features are reducing employer bias, compliance with the Department of Labor’s 7 Criteria for Unpaid Internships, improve team communication, and develop mentor and leadership skills for employees and interns alike through peer and reverse mentoring modules.
How does Intern Pursuit innovate?
Isabella Johnston: 1) We created 2 go to market strategies: Podcasting and gaming.
The Intern Whisperer Podcast features employer guests that share their job & industry predictions 5 years from now and the best mentoring advice they want to pass on to others. Our show airs on 8 podcast channels, WVBR in Ithaca, NY, Cornell University, and Valencia College. We want to partner with college and university radio stations throughout the world.
Intern Pursuit Game is available on Steam. Interns are superheroes who fight aliens throughout the universe. We chose a game to tap into students seeking internships and match them to gaming studios.
2) Listen to our customers (employers, students, and college/university staff) and integrate their feedback into the design of our platform.
3) Stay on top of trends and competitor offerings.
4) Seek partnerships to keep the product offering relevant.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Isabella Johnston: There was an initial impact when employers and schools cancelled internships for summer 2020. Intern Pursuit’s platform provides employers with tools and resources to ensure remote and onsite internships are compliant with academic, DOL, and best practice HR standards. The pandemic actually benefits our company to provide more value to all three of our customer types. Our company worked remotely and distributed, and this didn’t cause us any problems.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Isabella Johnston: No, difficult choices. Lessons learned include to improve and stay in constant iteration mode to adapt quickly to market demands, be a partner to all the customers, and provide value in working remotely, multigenerational communication, and team engagement.
How do you deal with stress and anxiety?
Isabella Johnston: Keeping some time for me as sacred. The first is maintaining my spiritual relationship- reminding myself that God is in control always and staying focused on gratitude for all things. The second is time for maintaining physical health. I block out time on my calendar to walk and stay connected with nature to get away from screens. The third is staying connected with people that will tell me what I need to hear, not always what I want to hear. Lastly, have fun – that might be coloring, cooking, or playing a board game instead of a video game. All of these activities encourage creativity, maintain focus, and help improve engagement.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Isabella Johnston: Handshake, Intern Match, Ripple, Symba. We have differentiated from them by providing services that are complementary to the competitor offering, which can allow us to partner together to help more customers.
Your final thoughts?
Isabella Johnston: Our product is made for people that want to be Employers4Change. They are innovators, crave learning, and close skill gaps. Our platform increases employee engagement, retention and reduces employer bias.
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