Acquiring the first years of work experience in the United States is forever an understated challenge for recent graduates as they enter the economy. It is a jaw-clenching situation that generally applies to us all yet proves to be unique from generation to generation – often slipping into hazy memory once the hurdle is cleared and thus little guidance ever seems to pass on. While some were able to acquire an entry-level job thanks to friends and family or internships through school, inking the first few lines of a resume can sometimes be an arduous process that relies on more than luck and simple favors. Imagine then how much more complicated things can become for international students from China, often lacking the same roots within the domestic market and already dealing with the disadvantages of assimilating into a new country – affected by politics, short on time, drawn out by geographic distances.
Shanghai native, Delysia Song lived through these difficulties herself and decided that others should not face them alone. Just as many in the internet era, Delysia sought to use technology as a game-changing tool. And like others of the entrepreneur generation, Delysia’s approach to an age-old dilemma is to redefine the entire process to present a new solution. The result was Song’s 2017 co-founding of the I-intern Career Consulting Group in San Francisco, a platform focused on providing students from abroad with internship opportunities and career advancement.
She elaborates, “The initial job search is a problem faced by every graduate, particularly if they lack experience. Traditionally, we looked at it as a step towards basic survival. Finding a job so you can feed yourself, manage to cover your expenses, and if you’re lucky, provide for your family. It was rarely looked at as more than that. However, for those that undertook this journey of leaving their homes to study and live overseas, the job search isn’t and shouldn’t be that simple. If our goal was a better overall life and we sacrificed so much to achieve it, then the first step in our careers instead becomes a means of improving ourselves and realizing our potential. What used to be a scramble for a paycheck becomes more about gaining expertise and honing a vision of our future.”
To that end, Delysia built upon the years she spent in Silicon Valley as a talent supplier and HR consultant for top companies that hire on both sides of the Pacific, such as Alibaba, Google, LinkedIn, Huawei among others. Noteworthy is a lesson Delysia quickly realized, that these employers do not simply try to fill ranks. Human resources development, empowerment, and the fostering of fresh ideas have led to countless breakthroughs in the respective organizations therefore tech employers, perhaps second to no other industry, see the value of newcomers. As the practice of venture capitalism and tech incubation suggests, if the idea is great enough even those with marginal experience are given valuable resources and powerful support. Delysia dubs this, “a progressive social and hiring trend.”
Expanding her network from there, in particular as veterans shifted to their own startups and other growing companies in the San Francisco Bay area, Delysia saw demand for top talent increase and the need for a new kind of company.
I-intern, after all, took the premise of simple recruiting and staffing beyond the crude method of flooding candidates to job openings and vice versa, hoping that among all the shifting tides something useful washes ashore. Ms. Song instead looks at the students and soon-to-be graduates she helps as treasured participants, a relationship that can carry over into the employee/employer dynamic, “Talent, skillsets, and entrepreneurship itself are the result of long-term perseverance. The most important assets across all companies are ultimately the people. Products can be adjusted, the market constantly fluctuates, changes are inevitable. Only a unified team can successfully navigate these transitions. Therefore it only makes sense that we attach the rightful importance to each individual, we want to care for them just like family and be conscious of their needs, thoughts, and emotions. At I-intern we hope to pass along and contribute our own transition and job search experiences one-on-one.”
In that regard, I-intern promotes a variety of methods to best gauge and understands candidates. Delysia explains, “The experience of studying abroad alone is not enough to find the best opportunities. We look instead to additional means like online coursework, career development planning, occupational and professional analysis, solutions for personal development, to provide a multi-dimensional diagnosis of an individual’s abilities and interests. Only from there can we move into something as life-changing as their internship and job search.”
And while I-intern is now successfully backed by CRCM, cooperates with top Chinese schools such as Nankai University and West Normal University, and is recognized as a valuable bridge for China-US campus recruiting, building from the ground up imparted many lessons on Delysia. She reflects, “There is certainly a lot you won’t learn at university. It is not like homework where there’s a given solution someone can refer you to. In a lot of ways there isn’t ever a standard answer. Especially when you’re a young team starting on something that’s built from the ground up. For us, in the beginning, everything was done by hand. It can be imposing because entrepreneurism does not tolerate shortcomings. What helps is to accept that something as demanding as starting a company will require skills that are simply too much to learn by yourself. Building a team allows you to support each other, to collaborate, and face things together.”
It is likely this shared knowledge that shaped I-intern’s approach to caring customer service and business development. On a personal level, Delysia points to support from Kai-Fu Li, eminent AI specialist and tech pioneer, and others that imparted meaningful enlightenment along the way.
“When you are a young leader, it’s difficult to gain recognition from most industries, from society as a whole. At some point people would call me ‘the persistent Shanghai girl’ and so I embraced that. Persistence plays a major factor in being acknowledged. Persistence is vital when you step away from the stable, comfortable path to go into the wild.”
“Then I had the dream of I-intern becoming the most trusted institution in the field of career development and building it to be a full-scale platform for students. When you start moving into the issue of trust, there is no substitute for working with people one-on-one and proving yourself. You can’t market trust, you build it through repeat customers and word of mouth. You prove to people that you’ll be there for them.”
This attitude is reaping rewards with I-intern doubling its sales figures in less than three years and literally, as Delysia was selected as one of the All American Chinese Youth Federation’s “California Chinese 30 Under 30” in March.