Company Story: Virtual Internships is an Extension of HR Department

According to the KMPG Canda 2021 report, around 68% of Canadian businesses identify challenges in hiring skilled tech talent to foster measurable growth. IAmI Authentications, a cyber security company based in Toronto Canada, is making waves with a unique approach to tap into the global early career talent. 

We recently sat down with Mick Be, the founder of IAmI Authentications, to explore their experience with Virtual Internships. Discover the journey from initial skepticism to the opportunity to shape their remote team and contribute to the community through mentoring emerging professions.

Watch Our Interview


Tell us about yourself and what it is that IAmI Authentications do.

My name is Mick Be I'm the founder and Head of Digital Products and Innovation at IAmI Authentications. We're a cyber security company that manages multi-factor authentication protocols with a difference. We've created our own platform.

We're always looking for great talent to come in and add to the structure of the projects that are ongoing and where we're on the cusp of doing some amazing things in the marketplace. But before we get there we're just doing the groundwork at this time.

We're based in Toronto Canada so we're always looking for talent across North America, but also very keen on picking up talent across Europe and other parts of the globe as well.

Are you remote-first or do you have a base in Toronto?

We're hybrid. We have an office location, but most of us are remote. We're also carving out specific projects that are up that operate outside of the nuclear team and that's really where the value of a virtual internship comes in. 

So we're able to pick up small projects, we're able to scale, then we're able to get them rolling. Most of the team prefers to be remote and the value that we have working with virtual interns is that we're able to onboard remote candidates from around the world and do it seamlessly.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you came across Virtual Internships and came to partner with us?

Virtual Internships had reached out to us. I was a little skeptical at first and I have to say that the idea of getting resources in our domain of need without any additional cost was a little all too good to be true. I just kept pushing it back until finally, I said, okay, let's set up a meeting and have a phone call with this individual.

We're getting to tap into the global talent in the area that we need and all we have to do is guide them through the program. So I tested it with one individual and I was astounded how amazing this offer was! I am heavily involved in several educational institutions in the Toronto and Canadian markets where I guide, mentor, and coach startup companies. So I just transition that mindset to this. It's fundamentally important for many companies to understand that these interns coming in do in fact benefit greatly from coaching and mentoring. It's not the case if there's a project, read the document get on with it, and I'll check in with you at the end of the project. It's not necessarily hand-holding, but I think the value trade-off is that as these brilliant minds are coming into our organization we're also giving them a chance to think about where this project leads and giving them insights on how to develop their career goals and their career aspirations. 

So it's been a tremendous trade-off. I get free brilliant minds and in return, I'm also giving them things to think about for the current project, but also their future. Overall, I have to say I'm very pleased. In fact, astounded, by the the offer that Virtual Internships brings to us.

You touched on something about being too good to be true and we often get the question “What's the catch?” But actually, the catch is the fact that you have to invest time, right?

Yes, but here's the thing. By onboarding interns, the perception of one side is that we're getting this without any additional cost (the educational institutions already cover all the fees) so what is the catch? The only catch is that we commit to developing the interns in a live project environment, but also to give them things to think about.

This program offers that tremendous opportunity to allow us as organizations to onboard talent where the trade-off is that we get to spend time developing them.

I'm curious because you said you have worked with educational institutions. Have you ever tried to run an internship program before Virtual Internships?

We've tried connecting with several universities and community colleges around my area here in Toronto, Canada, and some of them have been successful. 

What I like about Virtual Internships is that what we get involved in is tied to the students' credit system in their educational course, so they need to complete a number of hours to qualify to gain credits and then to further complete their degree or diploma.

The value to us is that we know we're going to get students who are actually focused and committed to fulfilling their promise to the internship program. But also know that we're not going to necessarily handhold someone just because they're trying to fill or occupy their time just to get through for the sake of getting through. 

You’ve worked with several interns so could you highlight some of the specific projects you've had interns work on?

I've carved out a very specific project that we're able to onboard interns, and we're able to bring them up to speed then they start getting involved. It allows them to essentially hit the ground running as though they're part of the core project. So while it's isolated, it minimizes my risk exposure to the other projects. 

But what I want to say is the fact that when we onboard students or interns from Virtual Internships, they're already ahead of the curve because not only have they got the theoretical aspect of their learning, but now they're applying it to the practical aspect, and that's essentially what the whole premise of an internship is. But again, they're driven. Comparing it to other institutions or other internship programs that we've entertained, we see real value in Virtual Internships and the quality of interns that they bring in.

I think this is a testimony of the marriage of what companies can do to support interns and what Virtual Internships’ high-quality students: we've got several students who've asked to stay on our project after their internship cycle is completed. We've got a couple of interns who are so committed and driven and see the value in the project that they're doing that they've kindly requested to stay on the project. Everything going well, I don't see why there wouldn't be an opportunity for us to sit down with them after their course or education is completed and offer them a full-time role in our organization. 

I was going to ask about your aims with originally wanting to hire virtual interns, we have a lot of companies that have a specific project in their backlog, but they don't have the time and resources to get it, and that’s the problem that a virtual intern solves.

But then there's also the longevity aspect of it almost being treated like one long interview. Eventually there comes the opportunity that you could hire them and build your talent pipeline that way so was yours primarily project-focused, and then it evolved into building a talent pipeline, or did you have different goals from the start?

When I figured out exactly what Virtual Internships’ value proposition was aside from getting over the idea that this is all too good to be true, I jumped into the mindset that I'd love to give back to the community and love to continue coaching and mentoring. So that was the premise of me joining Virtual Internships.

We essentially identified a project that was outside our internal domain that will be a low risk. So having done that, it was more or less of, well, let's just test this idea. With bringing on interns from across the world and seeing the projects going so well, I'm seeing the value and the leadership that these individuals are bringing to the table.

It's allowing me to stop and look at the opportunity of working with Virtual Internships in a different light and that different light is that not only am I getting the project done, but I'm also now able to determine whether I want to hire an individual on a full-time basis or in another form of an agreement. You could call it a probationary testing ground for employment opportunities, but it wasn't meant to be that from the get-go. It's morphed into that.

So I've got two double wins here because not only am I getting my project done for free and at a very low cost, but I'm also onboarding exceptional talent that I can see myself hiring full-time once everything lines up.

There are a lot of conversations at the moment around skills-first hiring and soft skills, especially in the AI era. Of the interns that you've worked with, are there any soft skills that you’ve seen them develop in particular outside of the technical skills that they might come with?

We've isolated a project where we can basically get the interns to own the project. They have full ownership of it. So rather than telling an intern what to do and here's your objectives and your mandate to go and figure out, we've given them a real-life case study to say: here's the framework of the project, build it, if you need any advice or any coaching or any insights come back to us, and we'll watch from afar as how they manoeuvre the project.

We've seen a number of interns develop communication skills internally amongst themselves, teamwork, and, particularly, leadership as well. So part of the whole coaching and mentoring is that we would carve time with them one-on-one and say: Hey, how do you feel where are we going with the project? How do you feel about the project? How do you feel about your contributions? Then I would give them opportunities to think about whether they would consider being more vocal. Would you consider taking this on as a lead? Part of the leadership skill set is not necessarily telling them what to do but encouraging them that they've got the potential to do it. So when you encourage them, you create inspiration.

We've seen a number of students who've shined tremendously across the board and we're very pleased with the students that we have on board.

How did you find the support from the VI team in terms of getting set up and then throughout the internships themselves?

The support from Virtual Internships has been amazing even from just reaching out to us to say: we've got a pool of interns coming in, would you consider screening them? From the very beginning of the cycle, we will get their resume, we'll get a video interview, and you get a feel of whether they're a good match for the project and the team. Virtual Internships provides that, which is great.

Then, the second step is a one-on-one meeting and Virtual Internships will reach out to ask: what did you think of the meeting? What did you think of the candidate? We'll give them a yay or a nay response; if it’s nay, we'll move on to the next candidate. In the case of yes, immediately the VI team jumps into action, and we've onboarded them within a matter of a week, which is pretty fast in my opinion. Along the way, Virtual Internships is incredible at constantly reaching out to see if there are any issues that they can resolve and nine times out of ten, there's no issue to resolve whatsoever. But they constantly support us and I value that. 

So what's interesting is, on one hand, it is all too good to be true. It is true because not only are we getting touch points from Virtual Internships along the way in the program, but even when they are onboard and the transition is done, we’ll get contacted again to see if we’re looking for more interns. 

So in a way, Virtual Internships is an extension of our HR department. The workload that they've taken off our HR function is massive. Every time an email comes in from Virtual Internships, it gets flagged to the right people and we identify the candidates and bring them in, so Virtual Internships has actually become an integral part of our HR function, and we value that a great deal.

Would you recommend VI to another company founder, like yourself?

Would I recommend Virtual Internships? Absolutely yes. You get global talent, and global skills at your disposal on any given project. It's very, very flexible and well-managed and there’s no risk. The only commitment that I would highly recommend is to take the opportunity to be the leader that you are and lead these students to become better people.

In return, you're going to get amazing talent for minimal cost, and you're able to get the project done on time; the value overall that Virtual Internships brings to us is that it is it has become an extension of our HR function as a corporation. 


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Our innovative platform along with 24/7 support from our global team allows your company to tap into a diverse pool of global talent and facilitate a seamless onboarding experience. We also bridge a gap between skills and experience, empowering candidates with both technical prowess and essential soft skills through personalized coaching and expert webinars

Embrace the opportunity to build a talent pipeline that resonates with your company's values and aspirations. Join our expansive community of over 14,000 host companies and propel your organization into the global arena.

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