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.
In 2009 the economy was in a pretty poor state, the creation of new jobs was exceptionally low and more and more graduates were leaving university and joining those already looking for work, desperate to step into the great jobs they'd been told would fall at their newly-graduated feet. Graduates were faced with an up-hill battle, exacerbated by their lack of experience in the world of work. Too many were finding the only way to get a toe in the door was through unpaid internships and voluntary work.
Driven to put an end to this culture of unpaid internships, Joy began her dream of supporting unemployed and underemployed graduates into employment by approaching the CSPP's member organisations for their views on a graduate internship programme. 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 6 graduates with 6 businesses. She started as Adopt an Intern continues today, making sure all internships are transparently advertised, that graduates are carefully shortlisted, supported and tracked afterwards.
Internships helped organisations to complete urgent and overdue projects that they did not have the time, skills or resources to complete.
In 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.
In 2012, Adopt an Intern spun out of the CSPP and became an independent not-for-profit company, with its own board and 3 staff members (including a paid intern).
At the tail end of 2013, Adopt an Intern placed its 500th intern, while the team grew to 5 permanent members of staff and an array of freelance HR specialists.
On 30 April 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.
In November 2015 Adopt an Intern won the Royal Bank of Scotland Customer Focus Award at the Scottish Business Awards.
In November 2017 the Scottish Government announced funding for Adopt an Intern to support women returners in the BME community.
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.
2019 saw AAI move away from solely promoting internships for graduates, focussing more on socially-driven employment regardless of background. AAI now supports internships, returnships, maternity leave and permanent roles for people of all ages.
2019 – AAI win SME of the Year at the Scottish Diversity Awards.
AAI continues to drive socially-driven employment regardless of candidate backgrounds. It handles internships, returnships, maternity leave and permanent roles. It works with people of all ages and levels of experience.
It’s made successful placements from Orkney to London, Germany and Malawi.
Its work is based on relationships, collaboration and an equality of opportunity.
Today, we are still a young, lean company with a lot of stories behind us.
And we're just getting started.
Let's talk about your story.