Innovating with initiative

Juniors create company to connect students with internships, future job opportunities


Submitted Joe Zhang

[From left to right] Juniors Kevin Tucker and Joe Zhang, sophomore Bharathan Sundar, senior Chris Wang, sophomore David Gillingham and junior Oscar Hong make up the team behind The Internship Initiative, a start up whose goal is to provide high school students with internships and hopefully connections for the future.

Melissa Dai and Claire Bai

After noticing a lack of internship opportunities for high-schoolers, juniors Joe Zhang and Oscar Hong co-founded The Internship Initiative (TII) in October of 2018, striving to help fellow students acquire internships in a simple process.

Through the organization, students can connect with companies looking for interns by filling out applications and providing other necessary information including GPA and a letter of recommendation, then choosing the industries they are interested in. TII then matches the students with suitable businesses in their desired industries, increasing both convenience and opportunity.

“We pair students and businesses together and get them connected, and then hopefully, an internship is created,” Hong said. “It’s like a matchmaking service.”

TII was built on the foundation of three major issues: the limited number of available internships, the need for personal connections to attain certain internships and problematic applications that don’t highlight high-schoolers’ strengths.

“Our ultimate goal is to help students get any internships they want,” Zhang said. “We want to erase the barriers in a stigma that’s built around hiring high school interns to make [internships] more accessible to anybody, regardless of their backgrounds or connections.”

Aside from joining students and businesses to form potential internships, TII also prepares high-schoolers for the professional world by offering several free courses on Google Classroom put together by TII’s Head of Course Development sophomore David Gillingham.

“We help students that don’t know how to make a resumé or don’t know how to do an interview [in these courses],” Hong said.

The rest of the TII team consists of senior Chris Wang as Chief Marketing Officer, junior Kevin Tucker as Head of Public Relations and Social Media and sophomore Bharathan Sundar as Head of Content Creation.

“If you go to our website, you can see the different things that we offer to students and how internships are becoming more common and necessary in this day and age,” Sundar said.

Zhang and Hong, the co-CEOs, began to develop the company by exploring the internship market and developing a plan for their business.

“We spent two months doing research, talking to many business owners and entrepreneurs around the area,” Zhang said. “Work experience is becoming more and more important, so we decided that [internship assistance] was a good market. Businesses seemed interested too, so we created our business plan.”

As time goes on, TII expects to continue growing and developing into a more widespread organization to help more students in the area access more internship opportunities.

“Right now, we’re just focused on building momentum,” Zhang said. “We’re focusing on trying to get it together, raise awareness and get companies to join us… Next year, our main focus is going to be on building that critical mass of students and companies.”