Paragon One ran an eight-week remote externship for real estate technology company Younity, giving students from diverse backgrounds the chance to work remotely at an up-and-coming startup.
Property tech startup Younity is just over two years old.
The small, but growing team at the New York office remains laser focused on their mission to build technology that supports homes of the future.
At present, the company provides affordable, fast and secure wireless internet access to tenants of “smart buildings,” who want to be able to control lighting preferences at the touch of a button, manage electronic locks remotely and have ready access to data from their security camera footage.
As the firm embarked on a mission to find partners in major housing markets, they signed on with Paragon One to recruit and manage student externs that would take charge of the remote work project.
Avi Lichtenstein, Younity’s Director of Operations, explains why the startup entrusted the eight-week lead generation project to a group of students.
What was the main reason you signed Paragon One up to run a remote externship for you?
AL: One of the challenges I always find with interns is that they’re hard to manage, not because they’re not bright and capable, but because they need the sort of handholding and guidance that I just don’t have the bandwidth to provide. When I met Paragon One’s CEO at a founder’s dinner, I was excited to find a company that offered managers like me a way to circumvent that struggle, but still gave us the opportunity to provide students with the chance to work in an exciting, new industry and benefit from their fresh perspective.
Do you actually plan on using the research and ideas that students came up with during the externship?
AL: The results the students produced at the end of the project were great. We’ve already signed on for a third cohort of students, and we’ve been able to fine tune our requirements for the projects, as we work with more students.
"I should give Paragon One credit for running the whole show, because we got all the best bits where we reviewed the final work and interacted with the students, but we really didn’t have to worry about anything else, from training to finding the right externs."
What was your experience of bringing students on board for a remote work externship?
AL: One of the biggest surprises for me, was to see how some students really took initiative. A few of them reached out and presented us with a full analysis of a particular developer they were researching, well beyond what was asked of them. That’s an understanding of a project that you don’t always get.
It made me realize how these remote externships could really open up my hiring pool. Long term, these students are potential employees and because Paragon One is recruiting and assessing them, I don’t have to source people from my network. There are a few I already have my eye on!
As a manager, what specific parts of Paragon One’s offering really met your needs?
AL: Aside from the fact that Paragon One recruited and managed students for us, I thought their evaluation of the work students did was very helpful. I like how we were given ranks based on student performance that we could review.
The webinars they organized for our team to interact with the externs were helpful and quite frankly really fun. I thought there was great interaction on both sides.
And finally, I should give Paragon One credit for running the whole show, because we got all the best bits where we reviewed the final work and interacted with the students, but we really didn’t have to worry about anything else, from training to finding the right externs.
Do you see more companies opening up outsourced remote externship experiences for students in future?
AL: I really hope so, because I think getting the chance to learn about a lot of different industries while you’re still a student is amazing.
When I graduated college, I had no idea what to do. I went into college thinking I’d do one thing, changed my mind by the time I finished and now I’m doing something completely different.
Short remote externships at different firms are great for students because they benefit from the flexibility offered and still get to be mentored as they discover different career paths. This really gives you a taste of the real world! You’re working on real company projects, there are no participation trophies and when you do a remote externship at a startup like ours, standards are very high. Startups expect a lot more from each team member than big companies do, so for a student that really wants to learn, there’s nothing like it.