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.
“Adopt an Intern isn’t about giving employers a source of cheap labour:
the interns come first.”
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.”
Adopt an Intern Alumni
Copywriting Intern, Young Company Finance