Aware of the growing unemployment crisis which affects about 30% of youth in the MENA region and the difficulties companies face when hiring new talents, a team of entrepreneurs came up with InternsME, an innovative platform that connects students and fresh graduates to employers for internships, traineeships and jobs, using video CVs.
Now running in the semi-finals at the MIT Enterprise Forum Arab Startup Competition, its founder Jean-Michel Gauthier tells BarakaBits how the idea progressively evolved into a successful startup.
How did the team come up with the idea?
Two years ago, my partners and I were running other businesses and faced common challenges when hiring new staff: first, finding the right talent and then once you’ve found said talent, hiring is a risky and expensive process. Employers are forced to invest heavily on administrative and onboarding costs, as well as meet the high salary expectations of experienced professionals, all before you get the chance to see if the person is a good fit for the organization.
At the same time, the World Economic Forum and other government advisory bodies around the world have identified internships as the key employment mechanism to help more young people enter the workplace, so we sensed a massive opportunity to change the status quo and beat the scary statistics facing the region.
What’s the company’s biggest achievement?
Over 24,000 candidates have registered on the site, as well as hundreds of employers, now covering almost all industries. Notable employers include: Aramex, BMW, FlyDubai, Omnicom Media Group, NBAD, SAS, Sephora, Standard Chartered, Tejari, Thomson Reuters and many more.
In December 2014, we hosted our first Talent Hunt event – a speed-interview concept aimed at bringing employers and candidates together in a real-world setting. The event was a massive success, with over 400 candidates visiting to be interviewed by 20 great companies.
And the biggest challenge?
Internships and graduate training programs are still a new concept for many employers in the region. We still meet the odd employer who asks: “What is an internship?” There’s a long road ahead for us to change mindsets and assist companies in developing programs to successfully introduce the youth into their workplaces.
What are your expectations about participating in the MIT Forum competition?
It is really exciting for us, not only because it will help us raise awareness about the challenge of youth unemployment but also as a chance to network with other world-class entrepreneurs, mentors and investors. We also anticipate that our involvement in the competition will help us establish a prospective client base in Kuwait and act as the springboard for our expansion into the GCC.
For more information: Keep up with the competition by following MIT’s official Twitter page.