Wayra London Kicks Off Its First Start-Up Internship Fair

Max 'Beast from the East' Smolaks covers open source, public sector, startups and technology of the future at TechWeekEurope. If you find him looking lost on the streets of London, feed him coffee and sugar.

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The start-up accelerator thinks young companies should hire interns as soon as they can

On Tuesday, Wayra Academy – the start-up incubator run by Telefonica – opened its doors for the first ever start-up internship fair.

Organised in partnership with start-up recruitment specialist Enternships, the event saw 16 of Wayra’s current “cohorts” offering paid work experience to young, bright-eyed individuals ready to take their first steps towards a career in IT.

What made it unusual is that the start-ups participating in the event were all in the early stages of development, and have only been occupying Wayra’s London offices for the last six weeks. “The start-ups need this, because they want to grow their businesses, and they are not going to be able to do it on their own. They need help and support, they need people who can actively contribute to the acceleration of the business,” Simon Devonshire, director of Wayra Europe told TechWeekEurope.

The fair was opened by His Royal Highness the Duke of York, who said organisations like Wayra “can help solve national problems”.

Perpetuating the cycle

The recent Millennial Survey by Telefonica reveals that 76 percent of the ‘millennial’ generation believes an understanding of technology makes it easier to get a job. In the UK, millennials value their digital literacy more than in any other nation.

logos-wayra-4-rgb1 (Small)Telefonica noted this trend, and launched Wayra in April 2011. Since then, the incubator has opened 14 ‘academies’ in 12 countries, received applications from nearly 20,000 start-ups, and invested in over 140 businesses. To those lucky enough to be selected for the main programme, it offers IT infrastructure, qualified mentors, a trendy work space and the funding.

“I was applying for positions in big enterprises, but I wasn’t getting anywhere. I feel that in a smaller environment with less people, you can make more of a difference,” told us Nick Moore, one of the recent graduates at the event.

“Often when people think about students, they do it in a negative way, as people not ready for work. But they are not going to become ready for work unless they get this valuable opportunity,” commented Devonshire.

So what are these companies looking for? For example, JollyDeck develops a platform that introduces gaming elements to enterprise learning. “We will be looking for someone who’s not a complete rookie, because we have to be very protective of our time and resources. We’re a very small team, and we don’t want to take on a ‘wildcard’, someone who will leave in two weeks. It has to be a good fit, they have to feel they can contribute,” said Igor Cenar, CEO of JollyDeck.

“It’s definitely someone we see having a serious future in the company, not just somebody to lick envelopes for three months,” joked Fiachra O Comhrai, founder and ‘Player One’ at Gordon Games, another Wayra start-up.

In the coming months, the programme will be replicated across all academies in Europe, including Dublin, Munich, Madrid, Barcelona and Prague.

You can see pictures from the event below:

 

Wayra Enternships fair

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Wayra Enternships fair

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