Canadian EdTech Company Makes an Impact Through Mentoring the Future Workforce

With the emerging skill gap, companies worldwide are reshaping their approach to cultivating future workforce. My Homework Rewards, a Canadian edtech company has discovered ways to tap into the global talent pool and make an impact in shaping the future workforce through a strategic collaboration with Virtual Internships

Join Gabriel Aversano, the founder of My Homework Rewards, as he unfolds his journey with Virtual Internships in a recent conversation with us. As we navigate the conversation, we unravel the intricacies of running an internship program, the impact of remote collaboration, and the role VI played in streamlining the process.

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Can you tell me a little more about the company?

My name is Gabriel Aversano. I'm the founder of My Homework Rewards, an edtech startup on a mission to provide personalized homework support to students mostly in the high school range, plus or minus a couple of years on both ends. We've developed a platform that provides tasks based on students' past performance. It recommends practice problems so that they can build on some of their weaknesses and then excel and push them into more challenging questions. As the name suggests, they earn rewards while doing all of us. So it's a little bit of a motivator so students set weekly goals, and if they meet those goals, they unlock points and then discounts to amazing brands. 

Is it primarily a B2C model, or do you also work with schools?

So it's a bit of both, but we are a little more B2B working with tutoring companies right now. We onboard all their students, and then their students and their tutors can access the platform, which has course modules and practice problems. The rewards are great and they also get a bunch of analytics. So that can be used to inform what tutors might cover during their next session.

It's one of those platforms that you think, “I wish that were around when I was in school.”

Exactly right. I study anyway, so I might as well get something for it. 

Can you tell me how you came across Virtual Internships (VI)? 

We’ve been working with VI for a while and initially came across them through social media. We've hosted several students on the technical side, like computer programming and both front- and back-end coding, and we've had a great experience with them. They've been able to contribute to our platform. They've developed new courses. They've developed practice problems and overall. They've extended the capabilities and the offerings that we can provide.

In the past, had you attempted to run an internship program by yourself before coming across VI?

We've hosted interns from other channels, but VI makes things much easier. They have a great talent pool. They're able to narrow down who might be a good fit for us and set up those interviews; I go through the interview process with the candidate and then decide on an offer or not. So, hiring interns with Virtual Internships has been a lot easier.

You mentioned and like the talent pool there. Is that one of the main reasons you wanted to go down this path of building a talent pipeline?

We're a remote company, so having that alignment regarding Virtual Internships was important and attractive to us. Some other channels are a little more challenging concerning physical location requirements or requiring an in-person element, which leaves us ineligible for those opportunities. So, being able to host the interns virtually was attractive, and the talent pool aligns well with our company's needs.

Before you partnered with Virtual Internships, did you have any concerns? Was there anything that made you stop and think?

The virtual aspect is a bit of a double-edged sword because it provides so much opportunity. It allows us to host interns from around the world to bring that barrier down. But at the same time, engaging in a virtual environment can be challenging. I find many internship programs are just a little too short because there's a bit of a ramping-up period in the beginning, and interns also have other commitments like school or maybe even a part-time job. But given that we're a remote company, we've developed strategies to engage our staff better, even the interns.

That's interesting to hear because I think that's especially something you see with remote-first companies. They already have the infrastructure to onboard remote interns quickly because you're used to engaging employees and staff as usual. Can you speak to the experience of any specific project or series of projects that a particular intern worked on?

We've had interns since about 2021, so a couple of years now. One outstanding intern is that he just finished this year a couple of months ago. His name is Charles, and he was supporting us with developing practice problems for one of our high school math courses. Charles blew it out of the water. He did amazing, particularly on the technical side. So I was very impressed. Charles is still a student in his second year. I think he's at UCLA.

We set our expectations like we're taking on students. This is a developmental opportunity for them. We expect them to go through a little bit of a learning curve. We support them through that, but I was particularly impressed with Charles's technical skills beyond my expectations. He did a fantastic job and solved more practice problems than we had planned. Then, he moved on to a second project where they developed a little script for us to help display graphs on our math courses on the actual course side. So yeah, Charles sticks out to me as one of the interns who did exceptional things.

That's good to hear, that Charles surpassed expectations regarding what he could do. We've been talking a lot about soft skills and skills-first hiring. Using Charles's example outside of the technical side, was there anything in him that you particularly noticed developed during his time?

On the soft-skill side, they take ownership of their tasks. Admitting, for example, if they would be late on something and then communicating that in advance. To a project manager, enabling good alignment on project deliverables. I am going the extra mile, taking things to the next step, and pushing the quality of the work. So that was amazing to see; teaching technical skills is a little easier. So, when you have interns with strong, soft skills, that's great to see.

In terms of the support that VI provided, both you and the interns have the support, which helps you guys in terms of feedback. I know getting set up is heavier at the beginning, but how did you find that in general?

I tend to agree that the support is weighted at the front, going through filtering the talent pool, getting the interviews going, and doing the onboarding. That has been a smooth process, we always get high-quality candidates that meet what we're looking for for our specific projects. There have been a couple of hiccups where things haven't worked out like geographical restrictions can work for a Canadian company. We understand that will happen and the support has been really strong bringing us new high-quality candidates.

On the mentorship note, where do you feel that companies sit in terms of that responsibility to play a role in early career development?

Absolutely. We approach these opportunities as a developmental opportunity. This is really for the students. It's fantastic that they can support us in our business goals. We've had many interns who've contributed to our platform and have been able to grow and expand; it’s fantastic. But at the end of the day, this is a developmental opportunity for students and we approach it that way. It's very clear that there's a gap between Academia and the workforce and it's in everyone's best interests to help close that gap. So by supporting hosting and mentoring these interns, we're going to create a stronger talent pool, which we will hire from later on, so it's in everyone's best interest to support the future workforce.

It's good to hear that alignment. I think that's something that we're trying to focus on at the moment as well. On the surface, because companies don't pay anything, it's too good to be true, but the mentorship and shaping of this young professional is the work. 

Exactly. You have to provide leadership, mentorship, and support to your staff, especially younger junior staff. I don't think we would get the same kind of quality output that we have if it wasn't for our team's support during the internship. The more we put into it as a company, the more we get from the interns and vice versa.

Any closing words?

I highly recommend Virtual Internships as a means of hiring interns for organizations, globally. There's a strong talent pool. It's very easy to work with. It's low barriers to entry as a company hiring these interns. 

This has been a great opportunity. As I said, we've had great interns. They've contributed to our platform and our business, and at the same time, we're giving back a little bit and providing some work experience and mentorship to the students.


Nurturing The Future Workforce With Virtual Internships

Virtual Internships emerges as a catalyst for change in a world where shaping the future workforce is as important as finding the right talent. The partnership with My Homework Rewards showcases the success of their internship program and the transformative power of mentorship. 

Our innovative platform simplifies your journey, offering a seamless experience from selecting the ideal talent to onboarding and hosting impactful internships. Going beyond the typical hiring platform, we integrate the principle of lifelong learning into our program. This involves providing interns with expert webinars and personalized coaching sessions, ensuring continuous skill development that aligns with mutual expectations.

Join our 14,000-strong host company community today and embark on a journey to tap into, mentor, and shape the future workforce, setting the stage for the future of work.

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