Spotlight on Startups - SpringTernAt Sprout Insights, we comb the web to bring you the most up-to-date and actionable resources on how to use social media to grow your business.

To that end, we’re pleased to present the Sprout Insights series Spotlight on Startups. Every week, we feature the most innovative, useful startup companies out there, get the inside track on what they’re doing, and tell you how you can leverage their products and services for your own business.

This week we’re pleased to cast the spotlight on SpringTern — an intern matching service based in Toronto, Canada. The company, officially launched in January 2013, already connects interns and businesses all over North America.

What Is SpringTern

What Is SpringTern

SpringTern is an intern matching service that pairs students and individuals wishing to gain practical work experience with organizations that can use the help. Individuals can create free accounts on the site and peruse projects from which they wish to gain some real-world experience. Businesses that otherwise might not have the resources such as office space, time (or money) to hire an intern under more common channels can find a wealth of eager interns willing to complete a variety of projects.

Although anyone can join SpringTern as an intern, the company focuses on facilitating and providing work-experience opportunities for students — particularly recent graduates. People in this demographic often have the academic credentials to perform a given job or project but may lack the practical experience that most employers require.

Businesses can use SpringTern to find individuals willing to provide their time (and in many cases their related experience) to complete projects — largely on a volunteer (i.e. unpaid) basis. The SpringTern team carefully vets each project however and will reject any project it deems to be unsuitable. It works closely with its business clients to help develop the scope of projects so that both the interns and the businesses posting the opportunities get maximum benefit from the relationship on SpringTern.

What Needs Does it Address?

What Needs Does it Address?

Ben Wise, co-founder of SpringTern says that the startup was born out of his personal experience and frustration in trying to find a job fresh out of college. “There were internships and programs available through various academic and business channels to help match recent grads with work opportunities,” according to Mr. Wise, “but many of these opportunities lacked the type of work experience that would be valuable to find a real job afterwards.”

He says he was tired of seeing unpaid internships “which were little more than glorified coffee-fetchers or paper-filers.” Wise then came up with the idea of creating a platform based on real-world projects that companies needed to complete, coupled with a pool of individuals willing to complete them. “Interns are willing to do unpaid placements as long as they end up with a skill set that they’d be proud to list on their resumes, or that other companies would be looking for in new hires.”

SpringTern addresses clear needs on both sides of the equation. Many small companies do not have the need, resources, or space to take on a full-time intern but often would benefit from student help. SpringTern lets them connect with students on a shorter basis to fill the specific, sometimes one-off needs that the business has at any given time.

Most projects listed on SpringTern are under 100 hours and can be completed remotely. This allows the businesses to reach a much wider potential talent pool and students are not limited to finding experience exclusively with companies in their hometowns. “Flexibility is our strength,” says Wise.

How You Can Leverage SpringTern

How You Can Leverage SpringTern

If you’re a student looking for work experience — perhaps the very experience you need to help you land a future dream job — peruse the opportunities on SpringTern and make your pitch. The platform lists many success stories of students who have gone on to full-time jobs based on their internships through SpringTern placements.

If you’re a small enterprise that’s never hired an intern before, and you’re not sure how to start, your first project listing is on SpringTern is free, so there’s no risk in giving it a try to see how the experience goes. Just like for its students, SpringTern has led to many successful and satisfied business clients as well. There’s also a great referral program for businesses where you can earn credits against the cost of future listings by referring other businesses to the SpringTern platform.

Registering for a student or a business account is free. If you have any questions, you can review SpringTern’s extensive FAQ page to find all the information you’re looking for. Feel free to reach out to SpringTern through its Twitter and Facebook accounts as well.

Know of any other startups that would make a good feature on Spotlight on Startups? Contact us, or let us know in the comments below.

[Image credits: SpringTern, NASA (Goddard), NASA (Goddard) 2, DamnGoodAgency]