It’s summer, which means it’s officially intern season. With little to no prior work experience, students and recent grads face a real challenge when applying for their dream internship — if you don’t know the right people, there’s a chance you could end up spending tons of time applying to hundreds of companies and only getting one or two calls back. InternBlitz, founded by two current students at Georgia Tech, gives you a way to cut that time spent filling out applications.
Nathan Dass and Murtaza Bambot firsthand experienced the angst of filling out dozens of individual applications and spending 15+ hours a week researching and applying. They founded InternBlitz to provide one composite application for several different internships, similar to how the Common App functions for college applications. With nearly 5,000 internships currently living on the platform, a student can fill out a profile and apply to 15 internships in a few minutes by adding them to their cart.
The InternBlitz team shares more on how they’ve streamlined the internship application process and why they decided to tackle the problem in the first place.
What triggered the idea for InternBlitz?
Bambot: Back in Spring 2016, I was looking for summer internships. I sent out 125 applications for internships and only got three interviews. Something clicked in me. I was like ‘OK there’s something wrong in this process.’ That summer, Nathan and I ended up interning together in San Francisco — he was at Google and I was at another company. So I would go to his place for dinner and he would come to my place for ping-pong. Right after our internships ended that summer, I sat down with him and I was like ‘I have this idea for a system where we can send out internship applications, very, very quickly.’ That’s kind of when we started thinking about it first and then we actually sat down and started building it in October of last year.
Once you started building it, what kind of features did you think about putting in there and why?
In terms of features, the main thing that we wanted to do is make it one application for everything. What we notice is that once you’re filling out applications, sometimes you have to answer the same questions every single time. You always have to put in your name, you always have to put in your resume. We figured it would be really nice to automate that entire process, and you only have to answer the custom questions.
Did you talk to other students that had issues?
We talked to about 150 students from both Georgia Tech and Georgia State. We sat down with them, talked to them, tried to figure out what the issues were, especially with the application process. The biggest thing was just how long it took to find and apply to internships. Students were telling us that it’s generally taking 30 to 60 minutes to find and apply to each internship. If they apply to 10 internships, that’s 10 hours that they’re putting in just to send out these applications. That was the biggest thing, we wanted to figure out a way to take that time and scale it down significantly.
What’s the process of bringing all of these different postings together?
What we basically do to get all the internships on our platform is we find a lot of these internships online. All these internships are hosted by some external source. We realized that a lot of them have very similar types of formats. Once we figured that out, we could reverse engineer that part and figure out how we can apply directly to that application from our website. Since they all follow similar formats, we can also figure out what the actual questions are being asked and that’s where we can link it back into our one application.
From a student’s standpoint, why should they use InternBlitz?
The biggest thing that people see it first is the time factor. We’ve seen people apply to 15 internships in like five minutes, and that’s just a crazy number right? You’d think it would take an hour at least to apply to 15 internships but we’ve reduced it a lot. That’s the main thing that we’re doing right now. Moving forward, we’re really looking to building out a recommendation system where we’ll recommend internships to you that you’re likely to get an interview with or are likely to actually get an offer, hopefully. But obviously this is all down the line.
Who are your competitors and how do you stand out?
We had a couple of competitors try to do the same format. They’ve all popped up over the last six to eight months, though, which is really interesting. Out of all them, what we’ve seen is we have had a huge number of internships compared to most of them. Most of the kind of companies that do a common app system max out at about 100 to 200 internships and right now, on our site, we have just about 5,000 internships live.
That’s one of the biggest things, we just have an enormous selection compared most of our competitors. The other thing that a lot of competitors do is they focus on making students pay for their service. We’re very big on making sure InternBlitz is free for all students forever. Because for us, it’s a very important thing that money should not be a factor in getting an internship. It should be how hard you work and how hard you put in time into getting an internship.
Are you looking for funding or mentors?
The biggest thing we’re looking for are mentors. Where we’re at right now is focusing mainly on software development for the next few months, just building a better platform, ironing out a lot of bugs. Right now we’re running a closed beta with just Georgia Tech students. We monitor what the students do and we talk to them every few weeks to get feedback. We’re looking to iron out those bugs by mid-July. After that, it’s marketing and launching into a lot of different colleges around the U.S. We’re still in the process of picking what those colleges are.
I think the biggest thing we need is really B2C marketing mentors and even a couple of software development mentors, especially in the machine learning area. That’s kind of what we’re looking at right now for the next few months — huge marketing pushes. We’re expecting to have InternBlitz up and ready for the fall recruiting season.
What’s your number one advice for students jumping on your platform and looking for a great internship fit?
Don’t just send out applications. InternBlitz helps you quickly cut through the busy work of applying to internships, but to really find an internship, you’ve got to put in some time on your own and reach out to recruiters at the companies you’re applying to. We have a “Find a Recruiter” button that helps you find recruiters on LinkedIn at each of the companies you’ve applied to — use that to find and connect with the right recruiters and shoot them a message. Ask them to coffee. Ask them clarifying questions. Ask them how they like working for the company. Whatever you do, just make sure to go beyond the application.
As student founders, how do you balance school and work as your company grows?
In all honesty, I think our grades have slipped a good bit since we started working on InternBlitz. Mainly though, it’s just about being focused on what you’re working on. A lot of people (admittedly, us too) get really distracted while studying or working and take 3 hours to get 1 hour of actual work done. But when you’re starting a company, you just can’t afford to waste that time. While you’re studying or working or coding, you focus 100% on getting that task done before you let yourself think about anything else.
Interview by Muriel Vega. Development by Jasmyne Moody.