Symba to Beta Test Platform with the United States Department of State

Published by Ahva Sadeghi on May 9, 2018
2 min read

Ahva Sadeghi

Ahva is the CEO and Co-Founder of Symba. She is a passionate social entrepreneur, and was recently named Forbes 30 Under 30 and a Global Entrepreneur Scholar by the US Department of State. Ahva completed her graduate studies at the London School of Economics and Political Science where she served as President of the Human Rights Students Committee and received the John Lewis Fellow with Humanity in Action.

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Symba announces beta test with the Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS) Program at the United States Department of State to help manage over 1,500 virtual internships starting the Fall of 2018.
During my undergraduate studies, I landed a dream opportunity to intern for the United States Department of State remotely from my university in Arizona. I was matched with a Foreign Service Officer to do research and contribute to the Trafficking in Persons Report. The following year, I was selected again to intern remotely for the Democracy, Human Rights and Labor Bureau to conduct research on women’s rights in the Middle East. These opportunities transformed the trajectory of my academic and professional career and opened so many doors for me.

While in college, I did six different internships with the State Department, Peace Corps, and various nonprofits. With each cohort, I noticed a lack of diversity and an inequality in socioeconomic representation.

This virtual internship program, Virtual Student Federal Service (VSFS), is housed at the US Department of State. Since this program was launched in 2009, VSFS has changed the lives of thousands of university students around the country and has expanded to over sixty different federal agencies. The VSFS program gives university students the opportunity to work on projects to help the government and gain real insights into their respective fields. Examples of these projects include helping counter violent extremism, strengthening human rights monitoring, developing virtual programs, engaging in digital communications, mapping, economic and political reporting, data analysis, graphic design, and app building. Under the impressive and agile leadership of Bridget Roddy, Nora Dempsey, and Asha Beh, the VSFS generates valuable learning experiences and harnesses the power of technology to bridge the digital divide.

Today, we are thrilled to announce that we will be working with the VSFS for our beta test to help manage over 1,500 virtual internships starting the Fall of 2018. Symba’s software is a comprehensive internship management tool, helping organizations execute internship programs and ensuring valuable experiences for everyone involved. We do this by allowing VSFS mentors to onboard, assign projects, track performance, and engage with their interns all in one place.

To prepare for this beta, Symba hosted a design thinking workshop to test out our prototype’s UX/UI design usability with VSFS internship mentors. As a tool built to support enterprise level companies, we are constantly employing agile tactics to quickly gather insights from our users and implement valuable product updates. Engaging with our users and learning first hand from them is a critical part of the lean startup method. We received quality feedback and many positive responses on how Symba can advance the workflow for VSFS internship management and engagement.


This Fall, we look forward to supporting the VSFS’s internship program and the important work they are doing to empower students across the country with virtual internships. Symba aims to streamline the internship process and ensure quality internship experiences through our platform for VSFS. Symba will serve as a robust tool to aid the VSFS program as it continues to scale rapidly to more students around the world.

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