December 30, 2019

Introducing Outernships™: Leveraging The Gig Economy To Build Better Teams

Companies and college graduates go together like macaroni and cheese. Talented and ambitious young adults enter the workforce as growing companies, eager to change the world, look to hire. What could possibly go wrong?

As HR managers know, a lot can go wrong. Whether you are the HR manager looking to hire or a college student seeking a job after graduation, the recruitment process can be equally challenging. HR managers face a number of struggles: sourcing quality talent, determining fit and ability, and enticing top candidates to join their company and not the competition. Hiring the wrong person is costly with $14,900 lost on average (CareerBuilder). Losing a quality candidate to another company can be even more painful, as companies report losing $29,600 on average. For college students, potential for success at a company is measured by only a handful of factors: interviews, GPA, alma mater, extracurriculars, and the one, maybe two, internships a student completes over summer break. Yet, how well do these factors translate to the workforce? According to Strada-Gallup, not very well; only one-third of students report feeling prepared for success in the workplace upon graduation. It’s a catch 22: hiring managers can only evaluate based upon limited data and work experience, while students have difficulty finding opportunities to prove their abilities in the workplace. As a result, companies experience higher turnover and less productivity, while graduates are often unemployed or a poor fit for their current position. So, what can either side do?

Utilizing the Gig Economy As A Ramp To Better Careers and Teams

Over the past decade, companies of all sizes have become increasingly comfortable outsourcing work to freelancers over the internet in what is now called the “gig economy.” In a study completed by Upwork, researchers found that over 63% of US companies utilize flexible workforces to some degree. The supply side is growing just as fast, with over half of US workers expected to freelance to some degree by 2025. Part of the appeal of freelancing is the flexibility it provides; one can work from home on their own time as long as they are able to get the work done. Similarly, companies do not have to commit to these workers, as they are independent contractors and not employees.

Currently, the gig economy is a one-and-done system, meaning that a worker will typically not do work for the same company twice. But, wonder if hiring managers could apply the gig economy as a way to “test-drive” candidates? Wonder if companies could work with college students on a repeating basis as a ramp into the workforce? Enter: The Outernship™.

Outernships™: What Are They and How Do They Work?

Outernships™ are short-term projects completed by college students remotely, allowing hiring managers to evaluate candidates based upon work done within their company, gradually train candidates, and stay relevant among the potential companies that a candidate might choose to work at. Outernships™ allow students to build real world experience and gain a feel for working within specific companies while providing the flexibility that students need to do work during the academic year. They are not a replacement for on-site internships; Instead, Outernships™ are supplemental experiences that can potentially lead to a future internship or full-time hire.

Here’s a specific example: A hiring manager at a mid-sized tech company, Julia, is looking to fill a full time marketing position. It’s December, and the next major career fairs at colleges will not occur for another three months. Working in conjunction with the current marketing team, Julia learns that they are completing a campaign for St. Patrick’s Day. Part of the campaign requires entry-level data analytics, so, working with the marketing team, Julia posts that part of the campaign as a project on Outern. 20 students indicate that they are interested in doing the job. She selects a student, Marc, whose skill-set matches the work and who best articulates his fit for the job via a one minute video submission. Through Outern’s task manager, Julia is able to watch as Marc completes the project and submits it via Outern. The marketing team is very pleased with his work. Soon after, Julia and the marketing team assign Marc more work on another project completing a different function. Marc continues to demonstrate that he can excel over the next few months, and Julia offers Marc a summer internship that leads to a full time job. Marc is happy in his role and feels comfortable with the experience he gained with the company through completing Outernships™, while Julia’s company has added a team member that is qualified, a good fit, and much less likely to leave the company prematurely.

In Conclusion

Before committing to a relationship with a significant other, we first go on dates. We test drive cars before we buy them and complete 30 day free trials before purchasing software subscriptions. Yet with hiring, students and companies commit to months long internships or even full-time positions without working together first. Outernships™ are a flexible and non-committal way for companies and students to “test-drive” a potential relationship and make more informed career decisions. Is your company committed to building a better culture and implementing cutting-edge hiring processes? Is your company a trailblazer? If so, join us as we work to redefine entry-level hiring and build a more prepared workforce. We will be releasing additional information on Outern’s functionality in the coming weeks. To learn more or find out how you can participate in our Private Alpha and Beta releases, contact