Students who are struggling to find an internship may now find some ease in the internship hunt thanks to TechGen. Launched in 2015, TechGen is a nonprofit run by New England Venture Capital Association that connects students with companies that are currently hiring in the Boston and Cambridge area. However, unlike what the name of the company suggests, students do not need to be a technical person or a STEM major to use TechGen. It is an opportunity for students of all majors and disciplines.
“We wanted to create this really robust kind of platform as well as [an] event program to help students not only get internships but also immerse themselves in the local innovation ecosystem,” said Sarah Case, the founder of TechGen.
While the state of Massachusetts has run a program for several years providing grant funding for local startups to hire interns, Case, who was working with the NEVCA, found herself part of a collaborative effort with Massachusetts Technology Collaborative to create a more comprehensive program.
“They found that there was still money left over year after year, so we at the NEVCA said that we think that there needs to be a more robust program around engaging these students with companies that will be sustainable over time, because we know that this government funding is not going to be forever,” she said. “So basically the concept or problem of connecting students with startups existed, and they needed somebody to come in and build the program from the ground up.”
Case shared that the collaboration found talented students from around the world, that were coming to the Boston for college, who were not staying in the area after graduation. Instead, they found trends that these students were gravitating toward working for startups in Silicon Valley or other big cities in the United States.
While Case did not come up with the idea, she said that the idea really resonated with her and consequently, she said she was really excited to build a solution to the problem.
“I was really lucky that the idea [of TechGen] was kind of already there and I just kind of identified with it,” Case said, explaining that the team wanted to find a solution to help retain that talent in the Boston area. “I could really relate to the problem we were trying to solve because I would have loved to have had a program that could help me know about all the really cool companies — the opportunities there, the key players, all that good stuff.”
According to the TechGen website, the way TechGen works is that companies can create a profile on the website, and that profile is evergreen, meaning even if they are not currently hiring interns, the company’s profile will live on the website so that students can learn more about the companies that exist in the area.
On the other side, students can create a profile on TechGen and immediately start applying to companies in various fields, including data analytics, finance, manufacturing and marketing.
“Half of what we’re really trying to do is educate students about all the really cool companies that they can be part of,” Case said.
So far, TechGen works with more than 325 companies from around Boston and Cambridge, according to organization’s 2016 Impact Report.
“The types of companies we work with really run the gamut from super early stage startups with fewer than 10 people, to public companies like Carbonite or TripAdvisor, so it really varies,” Case said.
Lora Kratchounova, principal of Scratch Marketing and Media, worked with Case and TechGen as a client in the past and is now extremely involved in the strategy plans for TechGen, she said.
“With limited resources, [TechGen] fought to build a growing community of companies and local talent, and they are just starting out,” Kratchounova said. “Despite numerous setbacks, Sarah and her team have kept their eyes on the ball — putting one foot in front of the other, never wavering and always thankful for every hands offered and any support they can get.”
Similar to the TechGen team, Scratch Marketing and Media also maintains the mentality that “talent needs to be recognized and paid for,” Kratchounova said.
“Hiring talented interns is not a charity — it is helping companies in New England find and retain talent, which is what our innovation economy is built upon and will allow us to always keep our edge in the global economy,” she said.
Boston University students shared what aspect of TechGen was appealing to their personal career routes.
Brian Lee, a junior in the Questrom School of Business, mentioned the advantage of TechGen’s expansive network of companies.
“I think TechGen is a great and much-needed platform because it benefits their entire innovation ecosystem by raising awareness for under-the-radar startups as well as students hungry for a new experience,” Lee said. “I would definitely recommend this platform to anyone who’s looking to work at startups.”
Case shared that the company is looking to expand its mission to other areas to meet a growing need.
“We are also in conversation with a couple other regions who see the same opportunity to engage young people with growing companies and want to have a solution to it,” she said. “So we’re talking to those regions about how they can replicate TechGen and use it for their own ecosystem.”