When Juliette Lim was approaching the two-year mark as a business analyst at McKinsey, she had to make a decision. Typically these roles are intended to be an introductory path to a career with the company, and employees can then decide if they will get outside experience through what McKinsey calls an “externship,” or go to graduate school with their support.
According to Lim, the problem wasn’t lack of opportunity. “There are nonprofits, Fortune 500 companies, remote work overseas, opportunities opening up with flex work,” Lim explains. “We have a lot more options to choose from, but not necessarily more choices to make. I still have to pick one job for which to spend two to four years of my life. It would be social taboo to do less.”
Indeed, while millennials often get a reputation for job hopping, Lim, who is 24, thought there had to be a way to beat the stigma and still get the chance to try out a few different job tracks without committing to any of them long-term. When she consulted fellow McKinsey colleague Janice Yoshimura (25), the two realized that they weren’t alone. “It’s a problem in our peer group,” Lim maintains. And while internships would appear to be a perfect solution, Lim says it’s a lot harder for adults to do a four-month stint when you already have student debt.
But the internship concept stuck, so Lim and Yoshimura masterminded a way to make it work for people at this stage of their career. So they started Opus about four months ago. The platform (which Lim constructed by teaching herself the coding basics of full stack developing) allows young professionals to sign up to work at different companies across industries and geographies for six to nine months at a time, before committing to one employer full-time.
“Internships that last two to three months are too short,” says Lim. But crafting a role in concert with a partner company will allow the young professional to ramp up and contribute in a meaningful way. “A lot more companies are willing to try it out,” says Lim, if they know the candidate has the intent to go full-time.
Opus is currently in a closed beta test stage and is entirely bootstrapped by Lim and Yoshimura. So far, they have early partnerships with large companies (a very well-known retailer) and smaller startups and nonprofits.
The majority of some 250 candidates are interviewing with partner companies. Lim says polling the candidates shows that 85% have the intent to commit full-time, and the rest are using the opportunity to try something they would be hesitant to commit to immediately, like working at a nonprofit or overseas. Companies will pay candidates placed in a rotation a prorated salary and benefits.
So far, the two founders are matching candidates to opportunities themselves, without the bells and whistles of AI. They are currently focused on management consulting that they personally have experience in and know how to market. Lim says they will expand into more roles as the platform grows. And Lim says, “We think a rotation is a way to ensure that there is a true mutual match in the hiring process, for the long term.”