About Us

About Us

AAI EmployAbility is the name that Adopt an Intern is now known by.

This name was created to better reflect our wider inclusive employment activity, which, over the years, has been comprised of recruitment, diversity support and bespoke social impact projects.

Since 2009, our team has been supporting businesses to grow and talented, diverse jobseekers to find professional purpose. We’ve worked with 1100+ businesses cross-sector and supported 1800+ people from all walks of life into meaningful employment.

Businesses have come to us to access diverse jobseekers from all backgrounds into short-term as well as permanent roles. We’ve helped people make changes to their lives, help them break bad employment cycles and get into work that’s right for them. 

Group 23

Relationships

Group 21

Collaboration

Group 22

Equality of Opportunity

Meet the Team

Joy Lewis

Chief Executive & Board Member

Jane Sloan

Inclusive Recruitment Consultant

Reham Nasr

Employability & Inclusion Consultant (Race, Culture & Wellbeing)

Tim Street

Trainer and Consultant

Renée Philippi

Operations Consultant

Lorna Prince

Organisational Development Consultant

Joy Lewis

Chief Executive & Board Member

Jane Sloan

Inclusive Recruitment Consultant

Reham Nasr

Employability & Inclusion Consultant (Race, Culture & Wellbeing)

Tim Street

Trainer and Consultant

Renée Philippi

Operations Consultant

Lorna Prince

Organisational Development Consultant

Our History

In 2009 the economy was in a poor state and the creation of new jobs was exceptionally low. More and more graduates were leaving university and joining those already looking for work, desperate to step into the great jobs they had been told would fall at their newly-graduated feet.

Graduates were faced with an uphill battle, exacerbated by their lack of experience in the world of work. Too many were finding the only way to get a foot in the door was through unpaid internships and voluntary work.

Driven to put an end to this culture of unpaid internships, Joy Lewis began her dream of supporting unemployed and underemployed graduates into employment. The support was overwhelming.

Knowing that not only did graduates have a lot to offer, but that our economic future relied on the youth of today, Joy (unpaid herself at this stage) placed six graduates with six businesses. She started as AAI continues to advocate to this day, making sure all job opportunities are transparently advertised and that jobseekers are carefully shortlisted, supported and tracked where feasible.

2009

Adopt an Intern was born in late 2009 when Joy Lewis (now AAI’s CEO), supported and encouraged by her colleagues at the Centre for Scottish Public Policy (CSPP), decided to take action following a spate of requests from talented graduates desperate to work with them for free.

2009

2010

Joy approached the Scottish Government who agreed to help with funding. Within the first year she had placed 85 graduates into paid internships. The Scottish Government continued to support Adopt an Intern each year until 2017, allowing the expansion of more opportunities.
2010

2012

Adopt an Intern spun out of the CSPP and became an independent not-for-profit company, with its own board and three staff members (including a paid intern).

2012

2013

Adopt an Intern placed its 500th intern, while the team grew to five permanent members of staff and an array of freelance HR specialists.

2013

2015

Adopt an Intern celebrated placing its 1000th graduate into a paid internship and hosted its first ever Awards Ceremony, celebrating the achievement of interns and employers. Adopt an Intern won the Royal Bank of Scotland Customer Focus Award at the Scottish Business Awards.
2015

2017

The Scottish Government announced funding for Adopt an Intern to support women returners in the BAME community.

2017

2018

Alongside placing job-seekers into work, AAI also carried out social impact projects Disabling Barriers (sponsored by EVMT ProgRess Ltd) and Diversity Works project (again grant-funded by Scottish Government), highlighting issues for marginalised groups in the UK job market.
2018

2019

AAI wins SME of the Year at the Scottish Diversity Awards, Best Social Enterprise at the Women’s Enterprise Scotland Awards and Diversity in the Third Sector at the Herald and GenAnalytics Diversity Awards.

AAI EmployAbility is officially the new name for all of Adopt an Intern’s inclusive employment activity, including recruitment, diversity, consultancy and social impact projects (not just paid graduate internships).

2019

2020

AAI continued to develop new services for employers, specifically around diversity, inclusion and demystifying disability and neorodiversity in employment. Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic AAI ran a virtual mindset support programme for minority ethnic individuals as well as facilitating work placements for furloughed professionals. The team also ran Inclusive Employment projects with Scottish Enterprise and the Scottish Government. 

2020

Meet the AAI Board and Ambassadors

Post Views: 18,272

Joy Lewis

Joy joined the Centre for Scottish Public Policy in January 2009 and spun out AAI EmployAbility (then, Adopt an Intern) a year later, forming a social enterprise in 2012. The company has since gone from strength to strength, placing over 1800 jobseekers, including graduates and returners, into valuable paid work across the UK.

She served for 20 years in the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and has lived and worked in Brazil, Argentina and Germany. Joy also worked for many years in fashion retail where she recruited, trained and mentored sales managers, culminating in a successful business in Germany.

Joy and team addressed their first employment injustice of unpaid graduate internships, then opened up to non-graduates and permanent roles, to ensure complete inclusion. Seven years ago they began to use this knowledge to run diversity and inclusion workshops to break down barriers to employment for underrepresented groups and now focus solely on inclusion coaching, consultancy and training so that they can reach deeper into businesses, break barriers and help them to grow whilst ensuring more talented people from all backgrounds can access employment.

Jane Sloan

Jane Sloan has worked with AAI since 2013 in various capacities, regularly engaging with AAI’s diverse jobseeker audience and consulting employers from businesses of all sizes on their recruitment needs.

 Jane has also played a vital role in AAI’s social impact projects, most notably in 2021’s Back to Work: Women Returners initiative, supporting women from minority ethnic backgrounds, in a one-to-one capacity, to build confidence and gain employment after a career break.  

With a varied career journey including Executive resourcing, mainstream recruitment and HR consultancy, Jane is a constant source of valuable ideas and support for AAI.

Reham Nasr

Reham joined AAI in 2018 addressing the expansive employability barriers faced by minority ethnic individuals and employers, founders and executives. As a Muslim woman, she uses her visibility to build rapport, facilitate open dialogues and bridge gaps of understanding while promoting inclusion in the workplace. 

With nearly 20 years of experience in US and the Middle East, and 4 years in the UK and Europe, Reham uses her international multidisciplinary background in Conflict Analysis and Resolution, Personal & Executive Coaching and Mental & Emotional Health and Wellbeing to serve her clients and businesses alike. 

She has lent her expertise to innovative AAI projects supporting mental health, wellbeing, personal development, professional empowerment and employability, supporting work with both the Scottish Government and Scottish Enterprise. 

Reham is passionate about giving a voice to the voiceless and ensuring equal and equitable opportunities are available to those that need them, regardless of race, gender or creed.

Tim Street

Tim has worked with AAI as both an employee and a consultant since 2010. He has 30 years’ experience of management in the public, private and third sectors – across workplace operations, human resources, line management and talent management.  He is motivated by how we engage people to do their best work in order to support a shared business goal.

He is a skilled workshop designer, facilitator, trainer and coach and has previously been involved in health and wellbeing and homelessness. He has also worked with the Scottish Prison Service and the European Men’s Health Forum.

Renée Philippi

Renée started working with AAI in February 2020 to support and advise on all aspects of organisational development, operational processes, and general business management.

With a diversity of business experience, from running her own start-up business and an independent consultancy based in her native America, to a UK posting with an international corporation, Renée uses her proven strategic, operational, change, and project management skills to further AAI’s vision of increasing social mobility, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace.

Lorna Prince

Lorna has worked with AAI as a consultant since 2010 and has been helping to release the potential in people, especially leaders and managers, for over 25 years. She works with AAI to support underrepresented groups, enhancing their confidence and employability, and to support employers, enhancing their understanding of the importance of inclusion.

Lorna has a strong commitment to the development of people in order to support growth and change. She is an accredited assessor in a variety of psychometric development tools and enjoys applying a wide range of models and tools in structured coaching conversations.

She combines extensive experience as an organisation development and human resources professional with a specialism in diversity and inclusion.

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