As a business owner, bringing on an intern often sounds enticing. But interns are only as good as the framework that you have built in place for them.
What’s that? You don’t have a strategy plan for your interns? Today’s guest can help.
He founded Internship Institute, helping businesses maximize the value of interns.
Additionally, this athlete, single parent, caretaker, consultant and nonprofit founder has a goal of positively impacting 100,000,000 people in the next five years. Will you be one of them?
Please welcome Matt Zinman.
- 0:36 – Matt’s Background
- 2:49 – Starting as Non-Profit
- 4:37 – Learning in Process
- 9:04 – Internship Institute
- 11:53 – A Unique Scenario
Learn more about this guest:
Podcast Episode Transcripts:
Disclaimer: Transcripts were generated automatically and may contain inaccuracies and errors.
Matt Zinman. Thanks for jumping on learning from others. How you doing? Hey, Damon, it’s great to be with you. Thanks for having me. Yeah, we were talking before we hit record about how, you know, international business and the virus and all the usual stuff. And, and you said I’m good until 8:00 PM and I had to stop and go.
What, what freaking places this guy in, because a lot of times I’m sure you’re the same. You talk to people that are just like all over and what time zone are you in? And. Um, you know, maybe I’ll use that as a segue to, you know, ask you the question. Number one is right. As you talk to all these people across different worlds, what are you talking to them about?
What’s your area of expertise? What are we gonna learn from you today? Well, I typically talk about one of two areas of expertise. One very differently. One has to do with the non-profit. I founded called the internship Institute. So I talk about work based learning and I, I talk about helping employers set up.
Internship programs. And my latest endeavor is, uh, around personal development and my book Z isms insights to live by. And I’ve recently started a podcast called insights to live by with guests and solo shows. So, uh, um, I’m on both sides of the mic in that regard. So you started more stuff, Greek, cause you want more punishment or, you know, I wanna, I gotta tell you, you know, aside from COVID and the fact that, you know, it’s changed a lot around, you know, internships and things of that nature, which I couldn’t have expected when I was writing the book, it’s hard.
It’s, there’s nothing easy about it, but the hardest thing I could possibly ever imagine trying to try and do, you know, so when I’m doing this and, uh, you know, with the, you know, with, with the new endeavor, uh, I love it. I’m just like, I feel like things are going my way and add the opportunity to lean in and have these conversations.
And hopefully someone, you know, hearing this comes away with being better off. Well, good. Yeah. I want to dive deeper into all of those and nonprofit, personal development in the podcast, but not until question number two, which is what do you suck at math? I suck Mark at doing two things at once.
Absolutely. I absolutely have no ability to multitask if you and I were talking. And I just, just slight distraction, whatever you just said was that percentage did not do that here. It’s like, it’s really important to know your weakness. It’s know with my wife, for example, it’s like, okay, you know, she’s saying stop weird.
Uh, and, and hone X. I, I can’t, I can’t do two things at once. Uh, is that just the way you’ve always been hardwired? Yeah, the good news is, is that when I do the one thing I can do, I’m not bad at it. Most of the time. So fair enough. Getting that laser focus. Yeah. So let’s talk about, um, let’s talk about the non-profit.
So internship Institute, what made you start a nonprofit? Well, you know, going back now to 2004, uh, I had made a career change. I started out in marketing communication, and then I was a single dad at the time. And you know, all these things kind of intertwined, you know, life and, and. Being an entrepreneur.
And in that business, you’re billing by the hour, it’s kind of hard to get ahead. And so I was looking for something to do differently and I had a history with internships, having them, myself, starting programs, having a passion around them, seeing a market need, seeing all these things intersect and thought I, and did develop intellectual property.
As you know, what you could say is the, here you go for an employer to set up a program, but there was nothing like this ever developed. And so I couldn’t get it valuated by venture venture capital, uh, in order to get it funded the way it needed to be. However, this area you’re talking about. Workforce development, economic development, disadvantaged youth, military transition grants are.
Accessible for those kinds of things. So I started out, uh, getting a, a, a federal grant, uh, to set up internship programs and then made the switch into the nonprofit world for a lot of reasons, also, because you’re dealing with academia. You’re not so receptive to the port for-profit partnerships. And, uh, you, like I said, it’s really hard.
Now when, when you maybe talk a little bit about the grant process, because I know a lot of the listeners early stage startups and entrepreneurs, whether it’s for-profit or not, um, The whole grant process, if you’ve never done it before is pretty unique. Do you have any insights into what you went through that you learned through that process?
Yeah, absolutely. Well, I mean naturally neither courses for the faint of heart. And if you’re going out, if you have a steady job and you’re going out on your own as I did, you want to have an anchor, you know, you’ve got to pay, pay those bills. So fortunately I had a contract to do that, to start me out.
The non-profit is even more so not for the faint of heart. And you have to look at a nonprofit as a for-profit in the sense that, you know, whatever you’re developing, you can be self-sustaining around some commercial offering grants are not dependable, and they’re not, they’re certainly not as a business model.
Something that you can expect is going to, you know, keep you quote unquote in business. When starting out. So for example, what that federal grant being a new nonprofit, or we’re just actually in the process of becoming a nonprofit, government’s not going to give money to you. No, no, no, nothing. A nonprofit.
You have to have an established, uh, history, right? So you will work with a company or rather another nonprofit that would be called a fiscal agent. And they, in essence, they sponsor you as the. Grantee and you are the subcontractor and even for-profits can do this and work with a nonprofit as a fiscal agent.
So this is a hybrid model that has some possibility, but that’s where you start out and you get your leverage. You get your track record working with, uh, another nonprofit that’s that’s run grants before. And, uh, and, and then you build on that long as, uh, individual entity until. You can do those things on your own before you need the co-sponsorship.
I think it varies. It’s there’s, there’s so much to it in terms of who your board is, it’s still a who, you know, situation. Um, whether it’s a federal versus a state versus know, the government grants are a whole different ball game from a foundation grant. Um, foundations are probably more and more, less, well, I say they’re more and more risk adverse.
Let’s put it that way. So a new nonprofit isn’t necessarily gonna, gonna have great access to even that seed money from, uh, from private foundations. So I don’t know if there’s any one answer to a Damon. Um, but if you have the right fiscal agent partner and you’re a small nonprofit, what’s nice is that they’re taking that administrative burden off of you.
So, you know, they’re earning their cut per se. And if you’ve never done administrative administered a grant before, you’re probably pretty happy to have someone else do it for you because there’s, that’s even more difficult. Um, not my strength. So, you know, I’ll tell you, uh, this is probably a decade ago.
We were looking into. I don’t remember what the terminology is anymore, but doing more contract work for government entities, because here where I’m at here in Utah, there’s a bunch of government entities, there’s Hill air force base, and whatever. And so to go through and do business with a government entity.
There is so much red tape and politics and hurdles that I think the way that you put it was, was very polite. Yes. Yes. I never know. Who’s going to hear this. No, look, it is just such a case by case basis. But again, I would look to, I’ve had, I’ve gone, I’ve made so many mistakes and one example would be.
Having what would seem like the promise of a grant and they typically lag, they have what’s called reimbursement grants, which is to say, you have to do the work in order to then invoice them. You don’t get the money first. So, you know, you know, just as an entrepreneur, you have to put yourself out. And it wasn’t that long ago I had a reimbursement grant.
Got started, uh, had preliminary contracts and then got it pulled out from under us, having nothing to do with what we were doing or not doing. It was just red tape. And so you can’t really afford to take those kinds of hits and that’s why you need to be diversified and not be. Too reliant on any one funding source in that way.
All right. So now you have this nonprofit, you have internship Institute. What does internship Institute bring to the table? Who are you helping? What are you doing? Well, a lot of people come and say, Oh, you know, can you get me interns and what schools you work with. But the reality is that we focus on the opportunity pipeline.
We focus on the employers to establish internships and mentoring programs. Um, You know, I’m not sure how far and wide your listenership is. Uh, in terms of international, we all kind of pick up more international. These are somewhat apprenticeships in certain fields, but not the trades apprenticeships, um, because internships by any, or the name still work based learning the mechanics of these programs are pretty much the same wherever the employer is concerned.
And then people will say, well, who are those internships for? Okay. Is it for high school college? Well, in some cases we’ve had grants that were for disadvantaged youth or for military in transition. It still comes down to the employer, particularly the CEO to be bought in. And that what’s their decision in terms of who they’ll bring on or even virtually into a program, uh, in that way.
So our focus is on making it profitable in terms of the ROI. At the very least, even from a productivity standpoint so that the employers find value so that they’ll keep doing it and keep building them out. If, if, if one example, I go back to that first grant I mentioned, you know, 15 years, years ago, almost at this point we started companies one in particular with two interns, they’re running 50, 60 interns a year now.
So like an annuity in terms of that, that opportunity pipeline. Well, you actually kind of answered what my next question was going to be. As I was going to say, what problems are you trying to solve for these employers? Because I know in my experience, you know, we don’t have internship programs. Uh, my company SEO national, because in the times we’ve tried to dabble at granted.
We don’t know what we’re doing, but then internships, but that’s the typical part. Yeah. And so you bring in these entrepreneurship, um, you know, these interns and I’m going to make a broad statement. I assume that a lot of people that are new to internships, they largely think yay free work. And then you, you bring those people in.
And the problem as a business owner that you bring upon yourself is that you are to help these people on educate them and expose them to opportunities. But in doing that, oftentimes you’re actually not saving time that the process takes longer because now you have to do your day job, but then in addition to doing your day-to-day stuff, You now also have to spend time holding the hand of, of somebody else.
So internships is a super unique scenario. That is much more hands-on than I think a lot of listeners probably assume. Yeah, fair enough. And there are a lot of misconceptions and it is something in terms of there being no substitute for experience, not just for the interns, but for the people who are working with them, these things do happen.
One-on-one. So what, ultimately it comes down to a school aside from the structure of a program where you need to have a CEO buy-in you have to have someone own the ball, which an almost slightly larger organization is going to be typically an HR person. You have to have debit, dedicated supervisors, so that.
They don’t feel like it’s being rammed down their throat, like, you know, babysit this kid kind of thing. And ideally if it’s a larger organization in particular, you want to have a mentoring program so that that’s folded in and kind of provide some glue, uh, for that program to be embedded in the culture of an organization.
Now we work with, um, You know, solopreneurs, you know, up to, you know, typically companies of a hundred to 250. Once you get the two HR people, that’s a different matter. Um, people who know that listening already know what I mean. Uh, but what it really comes down to before you people think like, Oh, the interns here now to figure out what to have them do, it’s real reverse.
You have to do a project inventory and say, okay, What are all the things that I could have an intern do? Is it worth it to me to trade my time, to your point, to invest my time in other people to have them do what it is I either can’t get to, or they can even do better. Like social media, you know, is a, really, is a really big one.
Uh, and also that there’s a multiplier so that you’re, you know, if you’re working with, if you’re doing that, it’s better to have at least two interns per person. For a lot of reasons without getting too much into the mechanics of it. But ultimately we have data that can show what an individual can gain over 200 days of productivity a year by doing it right.
And there is a certain way to do it. Right. So that’s what we do. So what does success look like to you with an internship? How would you define that there was a successful internship? It depends on the motive. One of which is either a pipeline strategy, which is more for a larger company. Looking to an internship is the try before you buy scenario a, but in all cases, it should also involve productivity.
So assuming that we’re talking about, um, a productivity scenario with a smaller entrepreneurial type company, which, you know, we, we. My understanding is more of your listening audience. Um, it really is about gaining that time back. So I, I personally have on average four interns a semester, ideally longer than a semester, uh, and, uh, try and go six months through a year because of that investment and through the, you know, the breaks and, uh, and so forth at 15 hours a week.
And I run this program virtually does that 60 hours. Uh, project work and maybe it takes me five, six, maybe no more than eight in a, in a more intense week. So that’s a pretty major gain in terms of what I can get done more by having them and the things they can do that I can’t do. Um, again, social media is a really great example.
That is. Worth it to me, what what’s the, and you briefly touched on this, what’s the onboarding time, average onboarding time to, to bring an internship into an organization until the point where, you know, they’re, they’re making gains. Sure. Well, I mean, look, you, you want to, in terms of the certain way of doing it, right, you know, you want to have some of these, you know, call them systems, but certain ways of doing things, uh, in place again, starting when you start with a project inventory, you’re not.
You’re now showing your defined need do so that you’re, so that you’re matching that need to the job description of who it is that you want to recruit for what it is you want to have them do, knowing that in advance. So now you’re aligning that talent. So you w what. Then happens is that you already have two weeks of work lined up for an intern.
The second they come in. So you want them to hit the ground running now the orientation process and things that you need to put them through, just to get them up to speed and put things in context of what they’re doing, getting a sense of what they’re capable of, which is why you want to have multiple interns so that you can assign the right projects to the right people in essence, customizing the relationship or the experience for them.
In terms of that win-win um, so again, there’s, you know, there’s, it doesn’t happen by itself. There’s but if you do it right, uh, everybody wins. Now, does this segue into what you’re doing in personal development now, or, or you a Jack of all trades and you, and you’re running Xeno, the whole Z isms concept, independent of the internship world.
They really are independent. Quite honestly, uh, I I’ve, you know, certainly, you know, you can, you can hear from, you know, what I’m talking about, you know, to the depths of, of what we’ve discussed with internships, that I’m still very much in the thick of it. Uh, I also really like. The what, what I’m doing with the personal development, the book, um, is something I’ve been wanting to write for a very long time.
I had an inflection point last year and, uh, it was, you know, it was with my son going to college for one, you know, freeing myself up on time and, uh, really asked what would I regret not doing? And, and the book was, was really what came to the surface. And so I just put my head down and, and, and, and then with the podcast, I didn’t really have an end game.
It’s not like I wrote this book. Like, I’m a coach. It’s not like it’s a business card kind of thing for me, I wrote it because I believe it’s helped, you know, people who read it will be that much better off for it. Um, but then things have continued to unfold. In that model where I’ve now set an intention to personally enrich the lives of at least a hundred million people in the next five years.
So that’s, that’s a goal. And, uh, and, and so that’s now whether the podcast, which I expect will lead to, uh, what, what I’m, I’m aiming to do in terms of paid speaking and. While I do incorporate my experiences, including in the book from the career side and job transition. It’s, you know, it’s not just about the internship side of it.
Um, it is a separate endeavor. So with the Z isms, do you have a target demographic or an ideal type of person that you can you feel you can bring the most personal development value to? Well, naturally at first has to be with somebody who is committed to personal growth, which is not everyone. So, you know, whatever that, that cutoff and population, uh, you know, that’s, that’s where it starts.
I mean, The book really covers a lot of ground. And I’ll just briefly say, cause I don’t want to be like my book. This is my book that you have questions. That’s great. Uh, but it’s, it really starts with the individual around self discovery and mindset. But then we get into relationships and personal interactions, including in the workplace, across the board.
Then we get into things around a greater awareness of being, you know, amplifying that. No gratitude. Um, then it turns into how do you apply those principles in an entrepreneurial way around self-belief and legacy achievement. And then ultimately it goes into life enrichment, which is at the heart of it in this life enrichment action plan and kind of a 90 day structure that someone comes out of the book and they can either follow that if they’re just getting into personal development or they’re looking for a tune-up or, you know, do that Allah cart.
But I, you know, someone who’s into it, um, It’s entirely impossible for them to come away from this book. Not better off. I mean, that’s why I wrote it. So it sounds like it’s, it’s very well-rounded because a lot of personal development books are either more on the personal, personal side, intimate side or on the other side of the coin, they’re in the business world.
And so it sounds like yours can take from one to the other and blend it all together. Yeah. I mean, someone asked me, you know, what’s my next book. I said, I don’t know, ask, ask me in 10 years, I put it off. I put it all in here and I was like, this is nothing left. I, you know, there it is. Um, yeah. And, you know, look, I, I, I, I tell it, you know, the style of it is F is this.
As if I’m having a personal conversation with the reader. So there are a number of anecdotes and personal disclosures throughout the reinforced things, stories that have just come up throughout, um, that people can hopefully relate to. And also what makes it unique and, and, and, uh, you know, that’s, that’s why I wrote it.
How, how did you like writing a book? I just finished writing a book earlier this year, and most of the people, the most other authors that I ask agree, the writing sucks. Did you like the writing process? You know, it really is a process. It’s about, there’s a lot of people out there. Who’s like, Oh, I have a book in me and you know, what I would advise and what happened for me is just to get into action.
So I’ve had all these various concepts around, earn confidence, be aware of spiders, inevitability, which is around the entrepreneurial set for a long time. And so I wanted to sit down and just write, which I did for a couple of days. And if I got to that point and I was grasping for anything, maybe I’d look back and be like, well, this is just a block and not keep going, but it really was, it was fully formed.
And. You know, my initial instinct, honestly, Damon was like, Oh, I did it. Wow. This is great. No, I wasn’t even close, you know? And a year later, you know, so, you know, you have to put your head down after that. I felt like I, once I got into action and then decided there was enough to it, it was almost too much.
The turn back I had already gotten almost gone too far, not to keep going. And so that’s what I did. Very cool. Well, yeah. I don’t know if I answered your question about how much it’s it depends on the day, how much it suck. Um, yeah. I mean, look, there’s, there’s no other way, but through books aren’t gonna write this.
Totally. Yeah. That, that was largely my experiences. You know, I, I had sat on the concept of a book forever and I said, I didn’t need to do it or stop thinking about it. And then just like you said, the only way is through and you just got to do it. And it takes a long time for me. Bigger pill to swallow was that was the proofing and editing, like writing it as one phase, but actually polishing it up is like, Round two, like a whole, whole other thing.
Yeah. Especially when you have a high standard for yourself. And so, you know, it just keeps massaging and yeah, I couldn’t agree more. I’m having like flashbacks now, which is why it changed. Well, Matt, it’s been a pleasure talking with you. I want to give you the last few moments. So why don’t, why don’t we lead off on that?
Tell our listeners how they can find out more about your book. Um, you know, give us the name of your podcast so they can jump onto that as well. Yeah, thank you. So working backwards, the podcast is called insights to live by, uh, it’s launched off of a new site, Mattzinman.com, which is, I mean, I can remember that and I would hope so.
I would hope so. Um, the book is Z isms with the hyphen, uh, uh, insights to live by. Is it subtitle? And for that one I ask is, you know, it’s available easily, you know, find it on Amazon. Take the, look inside, read that for free. And then you’ll know if you want to keep reading, you know, own it for yourself. Uh, the podcast is, is a two in one.
So I do a guest episode a week and a solo show. And, uh, that’s interesting to keep pace. Damon, we probably have one to talk about around. That’s pretty, what I’m easy to find. And, uh, again, this is really where I’m, I’ve just never been happier to lean in here and have these conversations. I really appreciate you having me.