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InternswipeSwipe to Your Professional Future

Audrey Callista


During the class of Rebuilding Education, we are asked to imagine a world where our  education system is perfect. If we had our way with education, what would we improve,  or what we would like to have. Upon sharing our experiences, our dialogue concluded  that we would love to do an internship before finishing our studies, however, we find that  applying and looking for such positions could be rigorous and quite mundane. We  thought, how easy and fun would it be if finding a job is as easy as finding a date  through a dating app, which most university students probably have and use regularly.  The long journey of looking high and low has inspired us to create a fusion of the  contrasting activities, where students can ‘swipe’ to their preferred internship position,  hence our product, ‘Internswipe’ is born, in a form of an app. After multiple discussions  with stakeholders and Nuffic Neso, we incorporated their feedback to focus on  university students, especially internationals, to connect them with internships positions  with companies in the Netherlands. With added in-app information regarding everything  an employer needs to know, from legal to procedural, to information and benefits of  hiring internationals. Through the Internswipe, we aim to reduce discrimination and  provide equal opportunities for every student in the Netherlands. 

Issue Analysis

To a lot of us, we go to school to get a job, one can even say it is deemed as the ‘end  goal’. Everyone in the class, along with most of the people we know are currently  university students or are doing a higher education, and we admit we are more  interested in doing an internship before graduation. Why do students seek internships in  the first place? Internships make students as applicants more attractive to recruiters and  lead them to secure jobs faster and easier as they have more experience. Internships  also have been shown to help students transition from academics to real life, while  seeing if they match with the company environment and values. 

Internships offer students a valuable working experience and entry into the labor  market. According to a 2019 survey by the National Association of Colleges and  Employers (NACE), over 70% of US interns are offered a job following their internship.  Internships are therefore an integral part of a well-functioning labor market. Especially  as an international student, internships can offer a much needed gateway into a foreign labor market. 

First and foremost, we need to recognize that the Netherlands have different types of  bachelor programmes, retrieved from the Bachelors Portal. The two main types of  higher education institutions offering undergraduate degrees in the Netherlands, namely  applied science universities and research universities. Applied Science universities, or  Higher Professional Education (HBO) last three or four years studying a field and will  always include a work placement. Research universities or University Education (WO)  follow the Bologna system and last three years, and they do not usually include work  experience in their curriculum. Apart from the main higher education institutions,  students can also be found doing a secondary vocational education (MBO) after high  school; it is equivalent to junior college education, focusing on vocational training.  These three streams of Dutch Tertiary Education would be expected to be ready to  enter the job market post graduation.  

Secondly, it is important to note that the Netherlands is one of the most attractive  countries for students all over the world to attend university in, that is mostly due to the  amount of the programmes are taught in English. In the academic year of 2017 and  2018, 23% of all bachelor degree programmes and 74% of all masters degree  programmes offered by Dutch universities were entirely in English, not to mention the  amount of other higher education programmes and vocational schools that are also  taught in English. This fact alone attracts internationals to the Netherlands, as they do  not need to learn Dutch prior to applying to study there. Specifically, it is reported that  over 90,000 international students have been counted in the Netherlands in the last two  years, according to Nuffic (The organization of international education in the  Netherlands). However, it is important to consider that even though these education  institutions are instructed in English, some labor markets either require Dutch  proficiency or are centered around Dutch culture.  

With that being said, we would like to shine light on university students, especially  internationals, focusing on non-European students. The research university system includes more coursework and prepares students in the academic field, focusing on  research. Nonetheless, some programmes have professional components and most of  them actually do end up wanting to find work outside the research community. 

One could argue that doing an internship is not compulsory in research universities. It is  true that internships are common in higher education, and not so much in research  universities as it is more so academic focused. But the truth of the matter is that there  are not enough spaces in academia. Therefore, students have to reach out to other  options and fields, and often enough such options require experience, and that is where  internships become useful for students in research universities. Internationals also face  more hardships in finding such internships or work, as they face legal, procedurals and  financial barriers. Internationals often find themselves having to have work permits,  negotiate an internship agreement to their respective universities (such as the Nuffic tri party agreement), even simple things such as transport and relocation possibilities. As  such, whether a student is enrolled in a WO, HBO and MBO, it is easier when he/she is  of Dutch or European citizenship when we consider all limitations, especially when we  consider the discrimination among internationals. Our stakeholders in Nuffic Neso agree  that international students are often excluded or treated differently.  

At the same time, by 2021, the number of vacancies in the Netherlands has exceeded  the number of talent. According to the Centraal Bureau voor de Statistiek (CBS) or  Statistics Netherlands, the number of job offers is currently at a record high, whereas  the number of unemployed people is at its lowest since 2003. Additionally, the number  of pensioners is extremely high when compared to the working population. The  Netherlands is therefore in need of extra labor force, and the increasing numbers of  international students in the country represent a largely neglected source of that labor force.  

Why are they not hiring each other? In the lens of an international student, information  is either scarce, or is very fragmented. According to a 2019 working paper by the  ICMPD, most international students encounter “a poorly coordinated patchwork of  occasional career fairs, job application trainings, and chance encounters with service  staff or company representatives who may or may not be able to help them.” Such  things might not be enough as they do not provide as much context-bound knowledge  and embeddedness of Dutch culture, leading to confusion and loss of motivation. 

In the lens of the job market, according to a presentation by Jouke van Dijk on the  integration of international students to the labor market, it is that small, medium-sized  companies are reluctant on hiring internationals due to language and/or cultural  barriers. They also might hesitate on hiring non-Dutch/European due to legal and  procedural barriers as well, for instance the effort needed to arrange a permit for the  applicant, or their lack of awareness of such procedures or benefits of hiring an  international student. 

This creates an urgency, a need for a bridge to connect the two. Internships offer  international students an accessible way into not only Dutch industries and businesses,  but Dutch culture as a whole. This encourages students to continue both their careers and personal lives in the Netherlands, therefore increasing retention. It is therefore in  the best interest of the Dutch government to encourage international students to apply  for internships. 

The Solution (Redesign)

Students learn many, many things in higher education, and absorb valuable  knowledge for the future. But what they might lack in receiving is the knowledge to get  around in the world, and their knowledge of their own selves, their value, skills and their  preferences. Sometimes, they would have to seek this knowledge elsewhere in their  university course, and they might not have the best information available. We would like  to help students, also concerning both the shortage of the labor market and the number  of university students, especially internationals, looking for vacancies. There is a need  for an enabler, a bridge the gap between the disconnection. The two parties should be  able to solve each other’s problems, creating a win-win situation.  

This position paper proposes a one integrated internship app designed for both  university students and companies. At its core, the app is similar to dating apps like  Tinder or Bumble – users enter information about themselves, specify who they are  looking for using filters, look through other users’ profiles and then “swipe right” on  users they like. And instead of individuals looking for love, the users of the app will be  students of Dutch Tertiary Education (more specifically international students of  research universities) regardless if they have recently graduated or in any year, looking  for an internship or work, and companies who are looking for employees. If both users  swipe right on each other, they get to chat and possibly move forward with the  relationship. Internswipe works in the same way, except it is meant to further one’s  professional and educational future, rather than a romantic future and is designed with  fairness in mind. This design increases the accessibility of internships for a number of  reasons. Firstly, the user-friendly and fun interface is much less intimidating than a  traditional internship website, so that the student will actually want to reach for their  phone and open the app. Secondly, to further facilitate greater accessibility of  internships especially for international students, the app includes mechanisms to  prevent discrimination and increase transparency on the part of the employer as much  as possible. Students’ nationalities, names and ages are hidden until later in the  process, and students get to set filters for companies but not vice versa, and companies  must include pre-set information in their posting so that students never have to wonder  about the exact requirements of a position. Not only that, the app will provide a screen  just for resources to both the students and companies, to provide information on the  world of the job market.  

Companies will find great use of this app, as Internswipe aims to make the  employer’s job easier by being an enabler. Rather than looking at hundreds or  thousands of applicants through the form that may not suit you, or having to reach out to  quality candidates (in Linkedin, for example) that may not be interested in your  company, the filters in the app help sort through the candidates, and companies only have to swipe through students who are qualified and already interested. The app is also provided with resources and toolkits that help to demystify the process of hiring  internationals, which can help them fill staffing shortages as well as increase the  diversity at their company. That way, they can acquire the best applicant possible,  through the matching process.

The main advantages of the app: 

  • Unintimidating – user-friendly, even fun.
  • Easy, simple, time saving – centralized, never have to leave the app, filters to  only show positions that are a fit, “chat” with all companies and schedule  interviews directly through app. 
  • Streamlined – 1 CV/portfolio for everything, swipe right to shortlist positions and  apply later.
  • Encourages company transparency – same information for all companies
  • Prevents discrimination – no pictures on student’s end, displaying full name and  nationality only after experience and qualifications on.

This is how the app will work: 

From the Student’s Point of View 

Sign up, Set up 

  1. Registration screen: after downloading the app, the user  choose chooses “student” on initial screen and registers 
  2. On the My Profile/info screen, to create his/her profile, the  user enters:  
    • full name current programme / past education
    • Most relevant job/internship experience
    • uploads full CV
    • languages interest/passions/chooses a prompt to answer
  1. Filters screen:
    • field / language requirements / pay / location / schedule/duration
  1. The student’s swiping screen will show:
    • the swiping screen is automatically generated based on the profile, and doesn’t contain all of the information as in the full profile in order to combat discrimination
      • – only first name, no picture 
      • – degree programme/field 
      • – top 3 past positions/experience 
      • – languages spoken 
      • – a short “bio” 
  1. All of the positions’ swiping screens will show: 
    • these will be standardized for every company to ensure  transparency/consistency/ease for student
    • link to company’s full profile + position title and description 
    • position requirements / required education level (bachelor/master and/or  which year they would like) / language requirements/preference 
    • location / hours per week + duration of contract 
    • paid/unpaid (and pay if applicable) 
    • other requirements such as uni agreement 
  1. Match screen: If both the student and the company think they are the right fit for  each other, they will match. 
    • Only after matching, the company sees the student’s full profile:
      • – everything that was on the swiping screen, plus:
        • full name
        • – full cv
        • – citizenship info, other relevant information
  1. Chat screen: after matching, student and company can chat:
    • both student and company can ask follow up questions
    • company can send prompts/request additional info/clarify
    • built in, in-chat interview scheduler (could have an option to connect to calendar apps)
    • shortlists screen: chats/matches will be sorted by “interview scheduled” / “not scheduled” / “hired”
  1. Resources screen : a separate screen for students to also provide resources to  help improve themselves and educate them on some desired skill sets, where to  learn those skillsets or a new language that might make them more attractive, and job hunting/transition skills to help them get around the world of labor  market.

From the Company’s Point of View 

  1. Registration screen: after downloading, user chooses “register  as a company”
  2. Tutorial screen:
    • how the app works  
    • unique features/approach and expectations  
    • information about resources app provides for companies (work permit info, increasing diversity etc)
  1. Company Profile screen:  
    • another step to increase transparency, each company will  have a bio with the same basic information as well as ratings from students who have worked there in the past
    • link to company’s official website 
    • rating/reviews (from students who have gotten hired through app previously to ensure authenticity)
    • bio – what their company does, their values/mission/history where they’re  headquartered. It is standardized for every company.  
  1. Filters screen: the company can also set up their own filters, that they can edit  any time fit to the different job listings that they post, to sort through their  applicants, ensuring efficiency. Their filters would include language, current year  of the student they want to hire, and the skill sets. Region is not added because it  is up to the student if they are willing to do the transportation.  
  2. Position screen : it has the same information as on the student’s end, but on the  company’s side, they are able to post multiple job positions with different filters  and descriptions for each. 
  3. Now the company can swipe through candidates who have already applied 
    • We also have filters on company’s end — to ensure efficiency and quality  for the employers
    • when swiping through applicant pool, the employer can only see certain info about applicants on their swiping screen to prevent discrimination as much as possible once matched, they can see the full profile 
  1. Match screen: if the company is also interested, it is a match
    • The company can now view student’s full profile, and start a chat
  1. Chat screen:
    • Company can ask follow up questions, clarification, and  request extra information
    • built in interview scheduler 
  1. Candidate list screen: displays all matches for each position  organized based on stage of hiring process, level of interest, other categories
  2. Resources screens: a separate category on the app which has  various resources for companies, including:
    • Work permit process
    • Benefits of hiring internationals 

Justification – Why is this app a good solution?

Educational perspective  

We aim to make this app into a reality with a main goal in mind, not only to help  students attain internships easily, by giving them as many opportunities as possible.  Internswipe does that and is designed to give every student a chance to also get to  know themselves and their skills, a platform that seeks to educate them in more ways  than the education system conventionally does.  

Internships offer students an “autonomous, multifaceted context of learning”, and that it  leads graduates to have a “privileged access” because internships also offer references  for students’ future career. Through internships, students have an opportunity to  develop their skills and competencies that they may not achieve through their education  alone. Internships, being a work-related experience, are considered to be a win-win-win  for students, employers and the educational institution, which is the university (Silva et  al, 2016). Universities also benefit from internships as they could also continuously  improve the quality of education from the partnership experience and have a good  reputation. Also in a philosophical view, the app aims to provide equal information and  opportunities that the students might not be aware of, because they deserve it. Especially for international students who are far away from home and have put so much  into coming here and learning.  

It would also be better if the app is integrated to universities along with the universities  career centers.  

Psychological and motivational perspective 

Internships may bring multiple benefits for the student, and not only students are aware  of these benefits, but they also need to want to do the internships as well. In other  words, they need the motivation to do so. There are two types of motivation, intrinsic  and extrinsic motivation. Intrinsic motivation originates from the self, and doing an  internship should be driven from the student’s own interest. Extrinsic motivation also  plays a heavy role for students to do an internship, because one could do an internship  to achieve a certain outcome. Our app aims to motivate the student both intrinsically  and extrinsically, as the user. If Internswipe, as the platform, exists in the form of an  app, it would be easy for students to first download the app, as easy it is for them to download any dating app.  

When students reach the registration and My Profile screen, they would want to fill their  information with the best version of themselves. That way, they would feel the need to  improve themselves to be that version of themselves, that can decorate the space for  their personalities and job experiences. The filters screen concerns aspects such as  language, skills and preferences, which provide a space for them to know themselves,  and ideas to improve those aspects. The matching screen helps students to know which  positions ‘like’ them back, and helps them get to know what the labor market is looking  for. Just like the company’s side with their resources screen, the students also have  such features to let them know procedural information, what they can do to improve  themselves, tutorials on how to make a CV, a cover letter, and how to communicate  with employers and coworkers. This is under the aspect of ‘gamification’  

Gamification is the the use of game design elements in non game contexts, where  gaming refers to playing within a certain set of rules with the purpose of obtaining a goal  or specific outcome. Applying gamification as a learning method by implementing game  principles could foster and grow the students’ learning motivation. When motivation is  increased, students are more likely to be academically involved.  

The core idea of the gamification is that it needs to be interactive. When students are  psychologically rewarded by getting a “like” back from their positions that they have  “liked” beforehand, it increases the students’ dopamine. The method of matching would  make the internship search process more enjoyable, while still retaining their focus to  find the right internship. This brings a balance between comfortable user experience  and finding the best position still.  

The process of liking a specific job, anticipating a like back from the organization, and  receiving a match increases dopamine activity in the brain, therefore, increases the  likelihood that a student/applicant would want to use the app.

By matching strategy, the employer benefits from this app by assessing person environment fit. Specifically, it allows for active recruitment of high talent candidates that  fit an organization’s culture and values as opposed to passively waiting for resumes and  referrals. The matching concept could also enhance the attractiveness of an  organization to potential job candidates, as they can see what applicants will “bring to  the table”. We also added a review/ratings screen to ensure that previous interns and  students can share their experiences working in a specific position in a specific  company, to motivate companies to also provide the best working environment. 

Company perspective 

Companies in the Netherlands lack the awareness of hiring internationals in the  workforce, when diversity brings a number of benefits. When they practice diversity  recruiting, they hire candidates free from any biases, regardless of their background.  Companies can benefit from diversity recruiting, as people from international, diverse  backgrounds offer different talents, skills and experiences that they may not get when  they only hire Dutch students. This creates innovation and grows the talent pool, and  can improve overall employee performance as diversity and inclusivity could lead to a  higher team morale. The company also enjoys the filters feature as they could easily  sort their own preferences, whether it be the language they are comfortable in, the  specific skills set they are looking for, and what kind of person the applicant is, also  through the built in chat feature. The resources screen will also help them with every  information needed to help them with any administrative and legal procedures, along  with benefits of hiring internationals and how it will help the students, the company and  society in general. 

Government perspective 

Adding to the awareness agenda, there is a need to recognize international university  students as highly skilled migrants. It could be emphasized that they are positive contributions of “imported brains”. We shine these benefits into light as part of the  awareness to diminish the discrimination against international students. If students stay  here to work, they help labor shortages, pay taxes and could therefore help the economy.  

Some international students would require different working visas or permits. Retrieved  from the Netherlands Point of Entry, there are different situations that non-European  students should consider. For example if a student is doing an internship as part of their  programme, they would need to sign a tri-party internship agreement between the  employer and the academic institution. If a student is doing an internship after their  studies, they would need to apply for an Orientation Year (Zoekjaar). Retrieved from the  NL Alumni Network, a company could find the steps needed to take to hire an  international student, with different situations.  

With the resources section of the tutorial screen, we aim to educate Dutch companies  on these different permits and possibilities available when recruiting an international  student within our app. 


Although this position paper focuses on university students, especially internationals, it  is due to the fact that they are in the most sensitive position of this scope, through our  understanding. However, the product is flexible and is very possible to extend and also  include students of applied science universities, MBOs, and other institutions of Dutch  Tertiary Education. Dutch and European students are also suitable future users of this  app as we would also like to include companies who prefer and are only comfortable  with such applicants, due to time, finance and legal matters. Internswipe does not  discriminate, so long as all parties are open to learn and would accept us to spread  awareness.  


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