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Unpaid internships a thing of the past for Sydney startup Buziebee

Tuesday, 21 April 2015 | By Broede Carmody

Sydney-based startup Buziebee wants to do away with unpaid internships.


It has developed a platform which allows businesses to post projects, whether it be content writing, competition analysis, or something similar, and then allows students and graduates to apply to complete those projects. The business then selects one of the applicants to undertake the project.


Co-founder Yige Ma says the idea is that business can save money by avoiding the need to pay costly consultants to do work that students or graduates could complete.


“The problem we’re trying to address is the skills gap students have when they graduate. You need experience to find a job, and a job to get experience,” she says.


Ma is acutely aware of both sides of the problem. As a university tutor she often heard about students struggles with unpaid internships and the need to get industry experience. At the same time she was working at a business that needed on-demand help, but couldn’t get it outside of experienced, and by extension expensive, consultants.


“We thought it would be fantastic to outsource those tasks to eager students,” she says.


“All the projects on the platform are paid, we’re really trying to challenge the unpaid internship structure.”


Ma says traditionally internships have been set for a time-frame, without a specific task in mind. As a consequence businesses aren’t getting the most out of their interns, and the interns themselves are having to give up substantial amounts of their time, for no pay. The project-based nature of Buziebee allows businesses to “try before they buy”.


“Instead of one intern for six months with unclear tasks, you can structure a project so that three people do three specific parts. That enables you to figure out who is the best person to hire at a later stage,” Ma says.


Following the completion of each project, Buziebee facilitates the payment and takes a 10% cut from both the employee and employer. Businesses are also required to complete a questionnaire rating the performance of the worker, which can be used to secure more projects, or as references for future job applications.


Buziebee launched about three weeks ago and currently has nine projects up for grabs.


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