Internships.com: A startup to match interns and businesses

Richmond-based startup Internships.com is a collection of resources, contacts and ideas for students, employers and educators.

C. Mason Gates still talks like the bright-eyed kid that graduated from Radford University with a degree in marketing in 1989.

Today, Gates is the president and founder of Internships.com, a Richmond-based startup that matches college students with internships. The website is a collection of resources, contacts and ideas for students, employers and educators.

Students get access to internship and post-graduate job postings in a wide range of sectors. Several colleges have already struck deals with Internships.com, giving their students access to the website’s databases through promo codes provided by placement offices and career centers.

But the data isn’t limited only to participating schools. Students can sign up on an individual basis, pay a monthly subscription fee ($28.75 for one year), and access the site’s postings.

Employers get a pre-qualified and pre-screened group of candidates, eliminating the need to search for employees, Gates said.

Internships.com currently has a database of over 1.4 million students from more than 200 schools around the world. Companies can hire directly from the database.

Educators have a proven resource to point students toward, making their lives easier, Gates said. The site can be extra helpful for smaller schools and can connect their students with local businesses.

“We wanted to bring together the student, the employer, and the educator,” said Gates.

Internships.com was started in 2006 as InternDirect. The company was conceived as a way to match, track and report internships for students, educators and professionals, a service that Gates said was absent in the overall job-posting industry (which includes the likes of Monster, YahooJobs, etc.). At one point, the business allowed interns to work from a remote location, not at the company’s office. Now the company also helps place interns.

Two rounds of angel funding helped form Internships.com, with the rest of the money coming from Gates himself. He has invested close to $300,000 of his own money.

Internships.com employs a director of sales and a customer relations specialist. Gates said that there are no plans to hire new staff. The company’s office is located on Beaufont Springs Drive in Chesterfield.

The business has created several partnerships with related companies in order to expand its reach. This year they partnered with the Internship Institute, a Pennsylvania company that helps employers get and keep track of interns.

In addition, the price of the product has dropped, which has led to an increase in the number of clients (companies and colleges) using the services.

“We’re adding a new university every three or four days,” Gates said.

To understand the market, Gates spent four and a half years studying internships through a partnership with his alma mater, during which he learned that there wasn’t enough connection or communication between the three major players in internships.

And this isn’t Gates’ first trip down Start-Up Lane.

He launched Gates Communications, an advertising, communications and marketing firm, in 1991 and funded it with capital raised through Richmond’s Venture Forum. Gates was then hired by the giant job-posting database JobsDirect.com in 1997 in the first round of funding to help build that company. Most recently, he has lent his entrepreneurial touch to the development of several different start-ups, serving as a consultant for no less than four companies between 2002 and 2006.

With all of these endeavors, Gates recognizes that bigger companies often snatch up successful start-ups, which explains why the aforementioned Gates Communications was sold in 1996. Ditto for JobsDirect, which was sold to Korn Ferry International in 2000.

If internships.com garners equal attention, Gates said he’d welcome nterested buyers.

“We’re keen on exit opportunities,” he said.

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