Imagine a leadership bootcamp where millennials wake up inspired to learn from top innovative companies, feel challenged and valued during the day, then return home feeling much more confident and clearer about their future career aspirations.
At only age 19, Lily Wu co-founded Austern International with Jamie Lee to connect ambitious millennials to their future employers. Think of it as the TV show The Voice but for recruitment. Just as how you can’t judge a singer by his or her appearance, then why are we judging talent based on their resumes?
“As a current student myself, I am really passionate about how my generation as millennials are walking into a rapidly changing society,” Lily remarked. “Our generation has been trained in skills since childhood for industries that are going to be replaced by technology or automated in a few years. And many of us are nowhere near prepared.”
What exactly does Austern International do?
Rather than using resumes, Austern International partners with a range of high-growth companies who provide their participants with a problem they are facing on either a domestic or international level.
In workshops, mentoring sessions and team bonding activities, participants spend time learning the practical skills that are valued at innovative companies, build a strong network and then have the present their idea to a panel.
“Not only are the students able to produce tangible results, the partner companies also able to identify the most promising early career talent,” Jamie explained.
Austern International has worked with companies such as Spotify, Sephora, Bloomberg, Singapore Press Holdings, Carousell and Nova Founders allowing the next generation of young leaders to take a step inside their world of employment and learn how the company works in a hands-on environment.
Within 18 months, they have done more than eight programs across APAC in which they have developed over 200 individuals. In 2014, Austern International was awarded the AMP Tomorrow Maker Award and in 2015 the Global Youth Best Experience Provider Award.
Tweaking the solution
Jamie revealed to Anthill that Austern International has changed its program from internship to now a three weeks career bootcamp and said there are two reasons for this.
“First, employers don’t want to hire interns who are generalists, but rather those who add value to the company by solving problems,” she explained, “Our three weeks bootcamp helps young millennials present their best authentic selves and get noticed.”
“Second, we want to make students innovative problem solvers. Aside from creating a perfect fit for employer and employee, we also see it as an entry point for students to consider entrepreneurship or intrapreneurship as a possibility; opening the doors for endless opportunities. We are the advocates for the millennial talent.”
On what’s next for Austern International, Jamie told us, “Our view of a successful business is not measured in number of programs. Both Lily and I want to build a company that would thrive for years because its competitive advantage is based on its value and guiding principles.”
“Going forward, we want to craft corporate workshops and reverse mentoring programs that bring different employee generations closer together. We believe when young people are paired with seasoned executives amazing things can happen.”