Internships. Everybody needs them, but only a few seem to actually nab that perfect position. Well, BranchOut, a career networking company, is trying to change that and make the search more interesting to the Millennium generation. The company, which has been said by others to be unlocking the LinkedIn properties of Facebook, has created its own Facebook application that helps users to search and find friends who have relevant connections to potential jobs.
Its latest idea, however, comes in the form of a contest- one that seems to tap directly into the friendships of users.
Here’s how it works: By going online to branchout.com/ultimate-internship-contest, potential applicants are able to choose which internship they would like to apply for. Companies like Fandango, LiveStrong, Disney, and (you guessed it!) Facebook are all represented. After agreeing to the terms and conditions, you are then transferred to Facebook where the app asks permission for your information. From there, you are allowed to solicit short recommendations from your friends. A minimum of five short recommendations is required in order for your online resume to be reviewed, which, if the company deems you a worthy, “top candidate” would be followed up by an interview.
Undoubtedly, BranchOut is utilizing social media in a way it has never been done before. Sure, there’s LinkedIn, but that site was created solely for professional use. BranchOut is using Facebook profile information to help others search for potential job connections right before they creep on their latest crush or stalk that frienemy from high school. If nothing else, congratulations to BranchOut for coming up with an incredibly creative and innovative way to make Facebook pertinent to the job search.
Here’s the catch: These five recommendations- are they really doing anything? Let’s be honest- a solicited recommendation from a random Facebook friend could do little or nothing to prove to a potential employer you are actually “ a diligent worker” or “incredibly committed.” Sure, this could be said about any recommendation letter- they are all going to basically say the same thing. However, in a letter, at least one is required to put thought, time and effort into crafting a pensive, articulate piece. Via Facebook, these short, Twitter-like recommendations are more so an advertisement for BranchOut than anything else.
Also, while top companies are represented, the internships listed (and the potential job areas each represent) are fairly limited to fields such as: communications, marketing, engineering, business administration or philanthropy work.
Oh, and just in case you were excited about more than one of the internships listed, I’m sorry but you’ll have to pick your favorite. Each contestant is only allowed to apply for one position.
So while BranchOut is a great utilization of the information available on Facebook and an example of true technological ingenuity, also be aware of the advertising incentives behind the program.
But then again, all companies have to make money somehow, right?
—By Kristy Shaulis, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign