SimplyCast’s journey to 100 interns
Saeed El-Darahali is the founder and CEO of SimplyCast based in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. This 11-year-old marketing automation company aims to develop software that supports businesses of all sizes. Through access to approximately 25 different integrated software tools, companies are able to perform marketing engagement, sales, acceleration, and emergency communications within a single platform.
Saeed has long been passionate about work-integrated learning but is taking it a step further than ever before with his newest project: hiring 100 student interns by the end of 2021. We spoke with Saeed about this inspiring new venture and this is what he had to say.
The passion for providing young people with opportunity and experiential learning dates back to Saeed’s time as a student himself. While applying for co-op positions, Saeed noticed that a lot of the roles being offered were already asking students for 1-2 years of experience. He was confronted with the same problem that many students continue to face today - you are applying to jobs to learn and gain experience, but every job listing is looking for candidates that already have experience.
Saeed found that requirement to be quite odd and made the task of looking for a job opportunity as a student quite disheartening. He promised himself that if he were to start his own company, he would prioritize hiring interns and co-op students.
Saeed believes in the value that students bring to an organization and fuelled by his own experiences has become a champion for student opportunity. This passion extends beyond his own company as Saeed advocates for students any chance that he can. “Wherever I volunteer, when I’m on the board of directors of any organization, the first thing I bring up is what are we doing for students?” said Saeed.
100 interns in 2021
Over the course of the last 11 years, SimplyCast has hired close to 400 interns ranging from university students, high school summer placements, individuals with disabilities, and even newcomers to Canada.
Though the team has experience working with interns, the largest cohort they have previously taken at one time is 15 interns. In their mission to hire 100 interns, that number is doubling as they welcome up to 30 interns within a single co-op term.
Saeed stated that this has always been a project he wanted to take on, but it was never the right time. However, with the shift to completely remote work due to the COVID-19 pandemic this project was revisited.
SimplyCast is an ISO-certified company (ISO 27001, 27017, and 27018 certified) which means that every part of their organization is fully documented and has a procedure in place. A fully remote work environment paired with the meticulous documentation of company processes has allowed the team to scale very quickly with little to no bottlenecks within the system. The automation of company processes, including the onboarding process, and remote environment made it the perfect time to tackle the 100 interns project.
The SimplyCast experience
For incoming interns, what exactly does the SimplyCast experience look like? When asked about their role within the company, Saeed expressed that he believes interns bring the same amount of value as any other employee would.
“We hire very smart people and they help us expand our business and get work done. From their perspective [the interns’], they gain experience from us where they can learn and become leaders in the next position that they apply for,” said Saeed.
Upon starting their placement, interns attend an internal SimplyCast Boot Camp which is an online set of courses that trains each new hire about all the policies and procedures at the company. There is also a social committee that leads events and activities to involve the team in the company culture.
After initial training, each intern can also expect to be paired with a mentor that will continue to support them during their time at SimplyCast. “We have a buddy system and we also have a mentor per person that we assign. Our company is around 45 people so we said we were going to hire 30 [interns]. This way, every person will have a mentor within the organization.”
Saeed says that the company is very decentralized which provides interns with the opportunity to really own their work. They are provided with their tasks, key performance indicators (KPIs), and told to go on and accomplish it. However, mentors and the rest of the team are always available to provide support.
The company’s motto is to “celebrate failure and reward success”. Not only are interns empowered through the ownership of their projects, but the entire company believes in learning from one another. At each weekly all-hands meeting, teammates share what failures they encountered during the week and are celebrated for their efforts while providing the opportunity for others to learn from them. That being said, good work is also always rewarded.
SimplyCast is a company dedicated to giving as many young people the opportunity to gain experience and work in an agile environment. They hope through the experiences facilitated by the 100 interns project, students can build the foundation they need to go wherever they want in the future. The three roles typically hired for are in the areas of marketing, development, and quality assurance. If interested in applying to work with SimplyCast, keep an eye on their job postings HERE.
Thank you to Saeed for speaking with us and sharing about this incredible venture!
About the author
Michelle Wong is a Toronto-based marketing and communications professional leading content marketing efforts at Riipen. She is a technology, social media, and marketing enthusiast with a passion for making connections and building community. She is an advocate for personal development and can often be found searching for new music, binge watching K-Dramas, or reading a good book.