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An inventory of internships that best fit a student’s personal preferences. With their Youply platform, Bas Klis and Thomas Pistorius are aiming to make a perfect match between companies and trainees. Students may leave reviews about their internships. This allows them to share experiences with each other. The algorithm behind the platform uses these reviews to select the most suitable internships for a particular student.

“Before buying a new telephone or booking a holiday, it is quite normal nowadays to read some reviews. There are a variety of platforms with job offers and reviews as well, although this didn’t exist for internships yet,” says Bas Klis, co-founder of Youply. The mechanical engineering student from Eindhoven University of Technology (TU/e) also wanted to share his experiences following his own internship. That is why, together with Pistorius, he developed the independent platform Youply. He just wasn’t interested in a long list of job vacancies and related reviews. “We thought that this could be done much more efficiently.”

Best internships listed first

That’s why Jordy Verhoeven hooked up with us. “We are developing a platform together with an algorithm that shows the best internships for a particular student based on the student’s preferences, vacancies, company data and written reviews,” Klis states. A student will be able to specify preferences such as maximum travel time and a minimum internship fee. On the other hand, a company can stipulate which skills a trainee should have. Finally, the reviews reflect the experiences of other students. “This way we try to present a picture which is as complete and accurate as possible.”

This is paramount as far as he is concerned. “Students often find it difficult when it comes to finding a suitable internship. You never know what an internship actually entails just by reading about the vacancy. Students get a better picture of the internship and the company thanks to the reviews of those who went before them.” A better match between students and companies is interesting for both parties. “If interns fit in better with a company, there is a greater chance that they will stick around after their internship,” Klis says. “Moreover, the student will be having a better time during their internship which means that she or he often shows more commitment, is more valuable to the company and learns even more from the experience.”

Substantive and reliable reviews

The content of the reviews is very important when selecting the internships for a particular student. For this reason, the algorithm tries to determine the reliability of the review on the basis of a number of factors. Even though this has proven to be difficult. “A review is not necessarily positive or negative. It is about the experience that a student has had. This can vary from person to person,” he explains. “Just like with holidays. One trip might be fantastic for one person, whereas someone else might not have liked it at all.”

Basically, the algorithm is able to determine whether a review is positive or negative. “Therefore it can also see whether a review scores far above or below the average. If, for example, five extremely positive reviews appear in five minutes about the same company, these may have been biased,” says Klis.

“These kinds of reviews seem less reliable and carry less weight when it comes to determining the list of the most suitable internships.” It also checks whether there are any unwanted words in a review, such as swear words. “We only want serious and substantiated reviews.”

Working with companies

In the end, some companies will come off better in the test than others. “Of course, companies prefer to come across as positive rather than negative,” Klis laughs. “But we are an independent platform. We want to help students find the right internships.” That’s why, according to him, poorer reviews can also be a mirror for a company. “It would, of course, be ideal if companies would take better care of interns in response to a bad review.”

Youply will continue to work with companies that score well. “They will then be able to further expand their company profile on the website. For example, by adding more information about themselves or by ensuring that students are able to submit their CVs directly.” Companies have to pay for this, probably with some form of subscription. “Companies that pay don’t get to go up in the rankings. We will remain an independent platform,” Klis stresses. Yet he thinks that companies are willing to pay in order to share additional information. “Being able to connect with students is very important to them,” he says.

Although there will be room on the platform for every company to create a basic business page. “Of course, companies that do not score as well always have the chance to improve.” It also gives smaller companies with lower brand awareness a chance to present themselves to students. “It doesn’t matter what kind of company it is, if it gets a good score when it comes to internships, it will be at the top of the list.”

More information for schools

In addition to companies, Youply is also working with schools. “If the internship coordinator of a school is positive about the platform, they will encourage the students to write a review. The next batch of students will benefit from this,” he explains. “They will not only see the reviews of their own school, but also those of other students.”

The schools are given an overview where they can see which companies score well or not as well. ” At the moment, schools are collecting data about internship companies themselves, but that information is rather limited. Of course, they only have a modest number of students who undertake an internship each year,” says Klis. “We are able to provide data on many companies. This allows a school to make a selection of the internship companies that they work with. This results in internships of a higher quality.”

Contributing to the future plans of students

The first contacts with companies and schools have been made. Klis and Pistorius want to further expand on this in the upcoming period. “We want to make more contacts and test out our idea in more detail”, says Klis. “The platform is up and running, though we will be able to optimize the algorithms even further.” This is also the reason why the students started this project. “We wanted to put into practice what we have learned at school.” TU/e Innovation Space is helping with this. “We are able to ask questions via the community and help others with their problems at the same time. That’s a lot of fun. Aside from that, we have coaching sessions where we are helped with, for example, applying for patents and expanding the team.”

The ultimate goal of the students is to become as big as the Indeed global recruitment platform. “Although we will first try to market the platform in the Netherlands.” It is still most important for the students that they help other students with finding a good internship. “We want an internship to be a positive experience for students. This allows them to make better plans for their own future or even for the company where they did their internship.”