Practical founder shares story of combating rising youth unemployment

Thursday, 4 March 2021

Tricia Martin shares her innovation journey as founder of the Hunter Region's first online platform that helps students develop their skills through interactive digital internships at I2N's Startup Stories.

Tricia recognises that the world is a rapidly changing place and believes it essential that an approach to work experience be one that is meaningful and adaptable.

At I2N's Startup Stories virtual webinar on Wednesday 3 March, Tricia shared her story of building the online platform Virtual Intern which combats rising youth unemployment by connecting students and local industries through online, project-based internships with the support of companies like Edified, Charter Hall and FYA.

Tricia is a 2020 Technology IAward Finalist and Foundation of Young Australians Social Pioneer, focused on building practical and real-world solutions for young people’s career readiness. Tricia designs, develops and delivers behaviour-change programs for students in Australia and 40 other countries. Over 2 years, Tricia has worked with over 35,000 students through Australia in financial literacy and career readiness.

Catch up on Startup Stories with Tricia Martin.

Tricia Martin

Top takeaways

  • High School students are often disconnected from employment opportunities and access to valuable networks. And businesses are extremely time poor making it difficult to onboard a student and run a project with them. Our platform helps solve this disconnect.
  • When embarking on customer discovery I had to shift my thinking from conversations to conversations with purpose. I had to give real thought to the result of each conversation. I2N Navigator is a great opportunity to learn practical customer discovery frameworks and tools.
  • Our prototyping has been very iterative and we’ve included students every step of the way.
  • When asked about developing her prototype and customer discovery, Tricia explained that her development process has been quite diverse. The team continually unearth new insights which help their prototype evolve.
  • Tricia found that she was scared of failure. To overcome her fear she explained that her products are only as good as her insights and conversations. As long as we focus on purposeful conversations, our development will continue to improve which will improve the product. A great product that's influenced by the users is a great hedge against failure.
  • When asked about balancing study and her side hustle, Tricia explained the importance of treating your degree and your startup as complimentary. It's important to do the planning up front and choose subjects which support your startup idea.

The University of Newcastle's I2N works with individuals and organisations from across the Hunter region and beyond to turn ideas and challenges into opportunity. As a leading driver of economic and business growth, the I2N cultivates an entrepreneurial mindset that is behind many of the region's most innovative businesses and leaders.

Keep up to date with future I2N events, programs and opportunities by subscribing to I2N's monthly newsletter or visit

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