Success Stories

Success Stories

Adopt an Intern’s First Ever Intern Tells His Story

Adopt an Intern’s first placement speaks ahead of inaugural awards.

Ahead of the inaugural Adopt an Intern Awards on 30 April 2015, Iain McDonald, the organisation’s first intern placement, has told of his experience of graduating from university and his subsequent search for employment.

Iain McDonald, Adopt an Intern’s first intern, said:

In 2008, I graduated from the University of St Andrews with a degree in English Literature. This was right in the teeth of the recession, so it’s true I’d started to wonder whether I might struggle to find work — especially since I didn’t have a particularly clear idea what I wanted to do with myself — but I wasn’t prepared for just how hard it would be. 

I moved to Edinburgh and set about applying for work. I knew I wanted to write for a living, to use my degree, so journalism seemed like a good place to start. I’d done a little of it here and there beforehand. I applied for jobs at newspapers and magazines, I sent speculative CVs to media companies, websites and blogs, but with little published work to show off it was always going to be an up-hill battle.  

I convinced myself this was to be expected. It was never going to be easy to break into a field like journalism without a direct qualification in it, and without any way to prove I was any good. But when I widened the search, I discovered opportunities to gain experience — in any field — are few and far between, yet employers are increasingly looking for it even when recruiting for entry-level positions.

I applied for any and all office work; for jobs with the local council, public and private communications departments, PR companies, universities, charities. I never went after anything I couldn’t do, or that I wasn’t on-paper qualified to handle, but it seemed like no one was willing to give me a chance without ‘five years’ experience in a similar role’. There were numerous rejections. 

A part-time retail position did just about enough to keep the lights on, but it wasn’t quite what I’d imagined when I made the decision to study at university. I was pretty well demoralised by the time a friend told me about the work of Adopt an Intern; I couldn’t have called them fast enough.  

In February 2010, I applied for a paid position writing for a small business publication in Edinburgh, Young Company Finance. I couldn’t believe my luck, being paid for what I wanted to do!

I worked with the company for five months before moving on to a permanent corporate communications position with a government agency. I’ve no doubt this opportunity would never have presented itself without the experience Adopt an Intern gave me. After a few years, I moved to the Middle East to become a copywriter with a start-up digital agency — and I’m still there. 

Adopt an Intern opened a lot of doors. The intern position, which was perfect for me, let me prove I was capable of writing to a high standard and meeting deadlines. Most of all, that I was employable. Adopt an Intern isn’t about giving employers a source of cheap labour: the interns come first. It can be an avenue to develop skills and gain relevant experience, and it makes a great first step onto the job ladder.”

Joy Lewis, Chief Executive of Adopt an Intern, said: 

“Iain’s experience is a good summary of the challenges that our young people face in seeking employment after applying themselves hard in further education. I am delighted to say that Iain’s experience is typical of over 900 internships we have now helped secure for our graduate population – with 77% going on to secure full-time employment. 

I call for companies of all sizes in all sectors throughout Scotland to keep this momentum up and help our young people on this important first step of the employment ladder – a short-term commitment that can deliver a lifetime experience.”

Adopt an Intern’s Inaugural Awards on 30 April 2015, include ‘Intern of the Year’, ‘Employer of the Year’ and ‘Outstanding Achievement’, will celebrate the 5th anniversary of Adopt an Intern, which was formed as a result of high levels of graduate unemployment and a lack of paid, meaningful internship opportunities throughout Scotland. Roseanna Cunningham MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Fair Work, Skills and Training, is to be the keynote speaker at the ceremony. Due to a positive early response, and requests for more time, Adopt an Intern has agreed to extend the deadline for award entries until Monday, 30 March. The awards are open to all Adopt an Intern employers and interns, both past and present, and applications should be made via the Adopt an Intern website. 

Adopt an Intern has also announced that it has facilitated over 900 internships since its formation.


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