zWORKS startup builds internship programs
Chris Hoyt saw a need and filled it.
What was that need? A term that has grown into a buzz word over the past few years – internships.
Hoyt, otherwise known as Chris “The Brain”, had co-founded a marketing company in Carmel and found himself helping companies run their internships programs.
In 2015, he decided to turn his passion for the intern concept into a full-time job.
“I hated marketing but I loved the intern programs so I wanted to see if we could start a company that just does this,” Hoyt said.
And that’s how Apprenace started. Apprenace helps build intern programs for companies that aren’t sure what to do with interns. There are three steps involved – creating a curriculum, helping find interns and mentoring the interns through the process.
Hoyt compares interns to caviar.
“Talking to someone about an intern program can be like giving someone a sealed can of caviar,” he said. “It’s like, ‘I know it’s valuable, but what do I do with it?’”
Hoyt said the hard part is getting people to start but once they’ve gone through a round of interns, they see the value. A common route is headhunting through recruiting agencies, but Hoyt believes building an internship program instead is less expensive and less time-consuming in the long run.
At the marketing company he cofounded, 80 percent of their workforce came from their intern program. In 2017, 85 percent of the interns at Apprenace had jobs lined up before their internship was over.
Program director Paul Waltz was one of Hoyt’s first interns at his previous company. Waltz emphasized how these kinds of programs create loyalty.
“There’s that sense of, ‘They gave me my start and they taught me so much, this is a really big deal,’” Waltz said.
Waltz also noted how they’re trying to change the perception of internships. They have three purposes, according to him – an educational experience for the intern, a productive experience for companies organizations and one that is paid to the intern.
“It can be a continuous engine to find good talent,” he said.
They have worked with companies like WorkHere and have had more than 50 interns in the past two years. Waltz said they’re goal is to build a long-lasting business model. They are working towards becoming a 501(c)(3) and they are also building Apprenace guilds – which are pools of talent training in a certain skill. Once the guild members are ready for hire, Apprenace lets companies know who can be placed where.
The entirety of it is to help people find their next step in life.
“I love working with young people or basically anyone in a state of change in their life,” Hoyt said. “It’s rewarding to help people see that who they are as a person is more valuable to the world than they thought it was. And their ability to have agency over their life is greater than they thought it was. That’s the stuff I love.”
Getting to know Chris and Paul
Chris’ alter ego (Chris “The Brain”) is a living cartoon character. Seriously, look up www.christhebrain.com.
Paul was one of the OG interns with Chris at his previous marketing company – Fat Atom Marketing. He ended up staying at Fat Atom for eight years before joining Chris at Apprenace.