Utilizing ‘Precious’ Interns to Grow

A successful Minneapolis tech startup has taken a youthful approach to company growth. It’s one which the company founder and CEO implemented early on, and continues to expand as her business takes on more U.S. and global market share.

Over its first five years, PreciouStatus, a real-time engagement technology platform connecting parents to their childrens’ teachers and families to a loved-ones health care practitioner, has utilized 30 paid interns.

CEO Julie Gilbert Newrai said hiring interns allows her and her team to ensure ongoing learning, fresh ideas and innovative solutions, something she feels is critical for a tech startup.

“Today, it is a significant requirement to have talented interns and employees who are always innovating for improvement from the customer lens,” she said. “Interns have this innately and if nurtured just a bit, they build a muscle to always ask ‘Why not try this?’ That skill will benefit them regardless of where they ultimately take their career.

“Interns are open to asking questions and they bring fresh ideas to the many quick brainstorming sessions we hold,” she added.  “I get tremendous energy from these interns. And, they feel the same.  There’s an electricity here that you can’t duplicate and I think our clients feel the passion we all have for what we do.”

PreciouStatus hires student interns based on two primary traits: values and drive. Gilbert Newrai said those characteristics help them as they each take on roles similar to many functions of a corporate environment, including sales, client training, client management, customer service, and more.

“This is giving me an opportunity to get my feet wet in a lot of other parts of a business,” said St. Thomas finance major Jake Knopick, an intern at PreciouStatus. “Coming into college I assumed I’d go into big corporate finance and this has changed my view on what I want after graduation.”

For a lifelong entrepreneur like Gilbert Newrai, that changed view is what she’s hoping all of her interns leave with.

“Hopefully we’re creating a pipeline of people that catch the fire and they go create the next wave of game changing technologies and solutions,” she said. “And if they don’t start a new company, they still learn how the engine works. They have a story to tell that can get them their first corporate position.”

Among the many national awards PreciouStatus has received for its innovative software, a recent announcement is showing the employee-internship structure Gilbert Newrai has created is worthy of recognition as well. The company was recently honored as 2015 Best Place to Work by the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal.