The Collegian
Tuesday, August 04, 2020

UR students create internship platform in time of crisis

<p>Graphic by Eric Gonzalez</p>

Graphic by Eric Gonzalez

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when many companies have been unable to hire interns, juniors Rider Tuff and Eric Gonzalez have created an online platform that helps University of Richmond students find internship opportunities. 

The online internshipboard, uTask, helps connect UR students to start-ups looking for interns, with an emphasis on those founded by UR alumni. The board has already helped 10 students land summer internships, Gonzalez said. 

Gonzalez and Tuff said they had originally planned to launch the job board as a way for students to work on short term projects for companies during the 2019-2020 school year but had changed course when the COVID-19 pandemic hit.

“We saw everyone losing internships, so we pivoted," Tuff said. "We thought the platform would be better suited to match students for summer internships with really interesting companies started by Richmond alumni."

Gonzalez and Tuff have marketed the internship board to start-ups that might not have otherwise taken on interns by emphasizing the Richmond Guarantee. The Richmond Guarantee, which provides students up to $4,000 for an unpaid summer internship, has made the platform extremely attractive to startups, Gonzalez and Tuff said.

Gonzales and Tuff said many of the start-ups they had contacted could not have afforded to take on paid summer interns without the funding from the Richmond Guarantee.

“Many of these start-ups hadn’t considered working with interns in the past because of their size but had always wanted to," Tuff said. "This platform gives them a really good opportunity to open the door and welcome in some interns this summer.”

Tuff and Gonzalez said they had been uncertain whether companies would be as interested in their idea as their friends and peers had been. After reaching out to a number of companies founded by UR alumni, Tuff and Gonzalez were pleased with the overwhelmingly positive response, they said. 

Junior Andrew Talcott is one of the 10 students who secured an internship through the platform so far, and Talcott will be interning at a consulting startup called Cavi Consulting, Talcott said.

“I started taking a look at uTask, and it was super easy,” Talcott said. “You go on, and there is a really clear description for each company and the job description that you’re applying for. I heard back from the founder within a week and we hit it off on the phone. He hired me as well as four other Richmond students.” 

Gonzalez said he was excited about the way the platform differs from typical job boards. 

“What really separates us from other job boards for college students is that we are trying to keep it niche and specific to startups,” Gonzalez said. “That’s where [Tuff] and I have had really good internship experience[s], so that’s really our focus going forward.”

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Tatum Polite, a junior, said she had always wanted to gain experience working for a startup. She was excited when she heard about uTask and landed her summer internship through the platform, especially in a time when so many programs were being canceled, she said.

For now, the platform is only available to UR students. But given the success of the job board thus far, Tuff and Gonzalez said they might consider opening the internship board to other colleges in the future.

Both Tuff and Gonzalez emphasized how great the UR alumni network had been when they reached out while developing uTask.

“If we’ve learned anything from this, it's that the Richmond alumni are just so welcoming and so willing to help you out in any way possible," Tuff said.

Contact public relations director Heather Neiman at heather.neiman@richmond.edu.

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