In Atlanta, three students at the Georgia Institute of Technology have spent the past two years building Canary, an internship review platform that helps students avoid bad internships, find the great ones and learn how to land them. While many college students were at home bored during the height of the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns, Sims Pettway, Noah Waldron and Stephen Ralph Jr. invested hours into their new startup.
Following the summer of 2019, the three co-founders, Sims, Noah, and Stephen, discussed the difficulty of finding good internships. They realized that talking to friends about their experiences was far more helpful than simply reading job descriptions. The team at Canary wanted to replicate this experience for students across the country.
After initially building the platform, they promoted it among Georgia Tech students using social media, group messages and word of mouth in order to spread the word about the startup. Students were fascinated by the new startup and the response helped provide more confirmation for the co-founders.
In the spring of 2020, right before the pandemic lockdowns, Canary entered the InVenture Prize Competition, Georgia Tech’s televised invention competition. Out of around 80 teams, the new startup made it to the final round of six teams and won a People’s Choice award.
Connecting with Students
Students from across the country use the platform, including two Samford seniors Anna Claire Noblitt and Courtney Fish.
After Noblitt spent the summer working in Washington D.C. at the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, she shared her experience with other students who may be interested in working at the ERLC.
“My internship with the Ethics and Religious Liberty Convention in Washington, D.C. was a growing, challenging, and energizing experience,” Noblitt said. “As a public policy intern, I developed research and writing skills that helped me apply my university background to real projects. Additionally, the staff at the ERLC took extensive time to invest in me personally and professionally, and I know they will be helpful friends and resources throughout my career.”
Fish, a Spanish minor, spent the summer working with a small Spanish-speaking congregation in Dallas, Texas. Fish, a first-time user of Canary, enjoyed using the platform and said, “I love when you explore the different internships how you can customize that type of company you want to view and can clearly see the three overall ratings for each company.”
What’s Ahead for Canary
CEO Sims Pettway described the project this way, “If you’re a student looking for internships, Canary is a great starting place. Instead of just getting a job description, we provide real stories of real people with real experience. We’ve set up a search function by school, major, job, and skills, and have added messaging functionality to allow students to network on the platform and get more information about the internships.”
Today, Canary focuses on growing the number of students on the platform and creating a massive community of students from across the country. Pettway said, “We’ve begun partnering with career centers at universities in order to reach students both directly and through their universities.”
According to the Canary website, universities such as Georgia Tech, Emory, Brown, Virginia, and Rice are already supporting the project.
Empowered to Start Something
For Pettway, Canary is not just about helping students find internships, but encouraging college students from around the nation to give entrepreneurship a try.
“Entrepreneurship is realizing you have the agency to create new things in the world,” he said. “Whether it is for-profit or non-profit, you are empowered to build something new to help people.”
He believes that the best time to pursue entrepreneurship is during college. Most students will go on to work full-time jobs in established companies, yet startups can provide meaningful learning experiences. Startups allow students to gain experience and try out their ideas in low-stakes environments.
If you’re looking for an internship to gain experience and valuable skills in the workplace, check out Canary.