SHRMLabs Better Workplaces Challenge Cup Finalist: Symba

This platform streamlines, scales talent development programs

Roy Maurer By Roy Maurer August 10, 2021

​The inaugural SHRMLabs Better Workplaces Challenge Cup competition highlights the most innovative HR technology solutions from companies across the U.S.

The five finalists were selected from 150 initial submissions and stood out among 51 regional finalists. They will go on to make their last pitch to a panel of judges, including Daymond John, award-winning entrepreneur and star of ABC's "Shark Tank," as well as an audience of investors, leading HR professionals, fellow innovators and the media. The pitch fest will be held Sept. 10 at the SHRM Annual Conference & Expo 2021, and the winner will be announced from the main stage Sept. 11 by SHRM President and Chief Executive Officer Johnny C. Taylor, Jr., SHRM-SCP. Ahva Sadeghi

Here's a look at one of the finalists: Symba, an internship management platform based in San Francisco. Ahva Sadeghi, co-founder and CEO of Symba, spoke with SHRM Online about the product and how it improves work and the practice of human resources.

SHRM Online: What does your product do?

Sadeghi: Symba is an all-in-one platform that helps organizations streamline their talent development programs, including internships, boot camps, accelerators, apprenticeships and more. On Symba, teams can easily onboard, manage projects, design training curriculum and foster community among all program participants. Symba collects key success metrics and builds dashboards to track the long-term impact of workforce development programs.

The platform serves programs that are remote, hybrid or in person, and works across industries from retail to government agencies to fintech and health care. Symba's Web- and mobile-based application gives organizations the necessary tools and resources to scale their workforce development initiatives and meet important diversity, equity and inclusion goals. We have helped over 80 percent of our users grow their programs, some by over 600 percent.

SHRM Online: How does the technology improve the workplace?

Sadeghi: Our team at Symba is dedicated to removing barriers of entry to the workforce. Workforce development programs, like internships and apprenticeships, are instrumental in creating job opportunities and enabling economic security and prosperity. However, there are a limited number of internship and apprenticeship opportunities available, and people of color are disproportionately underrepresented. In fact, Black students make up only 6 percent of paid interns. 

Symba is on a mission to open up the workforce by enabling organizations to revolutionize their programs and deliver meaningful, impactful work experiences. Symba partners with organizations to help them scale their programs to create more geographically and socially diverse professional development opportunities.

SHRM Online: What specific HR problem does the technology solve?

Sadeghi: Internship programs are an essential recruiting strategy for organizations and the No. 1 pipeline for early hires. Each year, companies are spending close to $132 billion on internships and early talent development programs; however, they are not successfully engaging all potential candidates. Talent leaders are using spreadsheets, e-mail and multiple different platforms to organize these programs. This leads to top candidates falling out of the recruitment funnel, sporadic data and poor long-term success. HR needs a solution to easily streamline and scale successful talent development programs that enable best-in-class experiences.

Symba helps companies attract and retain early talent by optimizing their talent development programs. We have helped companies simplify their intern onboarding by over 80 percent, increase their internship program's engagement and net promoter score, and improved their conversion from intern to full-time hire rates by 20 percent.



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