We’re effective, & much loved for it, whilst successfully improving the social economy.
Our team has been supporting businesses to grow, and graduates to find professional purpose since late 2009. We've worked with 1000+ businesses cross-sector, and supported 1600+ people from all walks of life into meaningful employment.
We are the ethical alternative to expensive, online (and thus faceless) recruitment agencies. With people, relationships and cultural fit at the core of our work, we have a 97% successful placement rate.
We help people make changes to their lives, help them break bad employment cycles and get into work that’s right for them. We’re delivering on something which is beneficial to growing businesses and talented job-seekers whilst being socially responsible.
Meet the people behind AAI.
JOY LEWIS, Chief Executive and Board Member
NICK MURRAY, Marketing & Partnerships Lead
CLAIRE MOFFAT, Business & Project Coordinator
TIM STREET, Operations Manager
Joy joined the Centre for Scottish Public Policy in January 2009 and spun out Adopt an Intern (AAI) a year later. The company has since gone from strength to strength, placing over 1420 graduates and returners into valuable paid work in over 800 businesses cross-sector.
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 (start up?) business in Germany.
Adopt an Intern won the RBS-sponsored 'Customer Focus' Award at the Scottish Business Awards 2015. Joy was also shortlisted for 'Social Enterprise (UK) Entrepreneur of the year' at the Great British Entrepreneur Awards 2015, and Adopt an Intern had two 2015 nominations at the Association of Scottish Businesswomen's Awards. In 2014 Joy was shortlisted for 'Female Entrepreneur of the Year' at the Scottish Business Awards and Diversity Hero of the Year at the Scottish Diversity Awards in 2017, recognising her work with disabled graduates and minority ethnic women returners.
She is determined to see AAI flourish further, whilst staying true to its roots, supporting and empowering start ups, charities and social enterprises across Scotland.
Nick Murray joined the team in 2017 after meeting Joy Lewis at an event in London ran by his AAI internship host employer, the Scottish Business Network.
Nick's focus was initially building the AAI brand's visibility in the Scottish business ecosystem before he began focussing more on business development and spreading AAI's social impact work through strategic partnerships.
Before AAI, Nick spent 10 years in the speciality coffee business and is a former sponsored skateboarder. He brings these rather dubious transferable skills to AAI along with an undergraduate degree in History and an MSc in Marketing.
Nick's focus is to continue to build and represent AAI to the best of his abilities, highlighting the company's values and reputation to both graduates and employers. His passion for CSR, social impact and supporting purpose-led businesses makes his a visible and vocal member of the Scottish entrepreneurial ecosystem.
Claire joined the AAI team in September 2019 after graduating with a MA in Arts, Festival and Cultural Management from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh. Her Undergraduate studies in Design and Innovation sparked an interest in design thinking and entrepreneurship. She has participated in an Innovation Bootcamp and was a semi-finalist in the SIE Innovat8 Competition.
Claire brings her varied skillset and passion for creative business to the AAI team.
In her free time, Claire loves to travel, enjoys theatre and live music, and designs and creates silver jewellery. She is keen to entice more women to start cycling, by participating in group rides and volunteering at events.
Tim joined the team in September 2011 and manages all employer and candidate operations. He is a freelance trainer, coach, and consultant. He has extensive management experience in the public and third sectors and has been designing and facilitating training since the mid-nineties.
His experience has been gained through work in men's health, with the homeless, drug users, young people and in the benefits system. He has managed large-scale projects in various settings, including the helpline industry, within the criminal justice system and pan-European research.
Behaviour change is a key theme that runs through all the projects that Tim has been involved in over the last twenty years. Amongst other experience he has led personal development programmes, volunteered as a person-centred counsellor for a GP practice in one of Glasgow's most deprived areas, and has been Chair of two Scottish charities.
MANDY CHEUNG, Business Support
ROSS POLLARD, Employability and Inclusion Consultant (Disability and Neurodiversity)
VIANA MAYA, pRESPECT Project Lead
ANNE ARNOT, HR Consultant
She graduated with a Masters in Product Design Engineering from the University of Strathclyde, and whilst struggling to find work in her chosen field of study, she was uncertain which career path she should take.
Encouraged by a friend to attend an Adopt an Intern workshop, Mandy felt both empowered and inspired by AAI’s drive to help graduates find their footing in the world and to promote equality and diversity.
At AAI, Mandy supports the operations behind the scenes and strives to uphold the company’s core values. Mandy loves brunch, coffee shops, and travelling to Japan and Korea.
Ross joined the team in April 2018 as a Disability Employment Researcher looking at the issues facing disabled graduates breaking into the job market. He now run's AAI's Disabling Barriers project and workshops.
Ross has a BA (Hons) in Social Studies 2:1 and an MA in Social Studies. He is an inclusion specialist with a background researching disability, neurodiversity and mental health. He is passionate about getting more disabled and neurodiverse people into work by breaking down barriers in society, as he is neurodiverse himself having ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder).
Ross, carried out a year-long study with employers and disabled graduates, looking at the barriers in recruitment. These findings are used in the diversity and inclusion training Ross delivers to businesses. Ross was also trained as a public diplomat in Poland and believes in the importance of facilitating good dialogue between policymakers, businesses and disabled people.
As such, he sits on the Scottish Government’s policy steering group for increasing disability employment. Ross is also on the Scottish Funding Council’s group for improving disabled student outcomes. Most recently he completed a certificate in counselling and in his spare time is retraining as a behavioural psychotherapist to better support the mental health of disabled people.
Viana joined AAI in July 2019. Her journey with AAI started at the end of 2017 when she took part in the 'Back to Work’ project supporting BAME Women Returners through which she was offered a 12-week placement with Drink Baotic.
This opportunity through AAI led Viana to gain part-time employment as an Employability Coordinator for Workingrite and Radiant and Brighter, supporting BME refugees and migrants in Glasgow to access training or paid placement.
While managing and modifying the employment program, Viana created a proactive model that focuses on building confidence and empowering individuals to have better access to employment opportunities and upskilling. The new model name pRESPECT is now delivered under the AAI umbrella, currently running in Edinburgh and Glasgow
Viana is working toward gaining BSc (HON) Web Design and Development degree at Edinburgh Napier University and as part of her Honour project she will be researching changing technologies and how its’ affecting employment opportunities for marginalised people.
Viana is passionate about empowering people to become self-sustaining in their careers and supporting them to develop better awareness and adaptability towards the changing technology and digital skills required in the ever-evolving workplace.
Anne is a performance coach and HR specialist. Joining us in 2013, Anne has brought with her over 20 years experience in sales, management and staff development across the UK, Ireland and Australia.
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 – 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 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).
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.
Stories of businesses we've helped find their feet with the right hire at the right time.
Stories of people who've found their purpose thanks to us opening the door.
And we're just getting started.
Who we work with
"AAI is invaluable. For a small business not to have to spend valuable time on a selection process, while having the security that candidates offered will be good quality, is a life saver."
Catherine Hokin, Co-Founder & Director, ecoConnect CIC
- Affordable advertising, shortlisting and phone screening
- Highly-skilled graduates to work on your project needs
- Employment support, including advice on holiday pay and NI contributions
- An entirely personal service with a dedicated Advisor to talk to
We provide a seamless, simple service that allows you an affordable way to bring fresh talent into your business on a temporary or permanent basis. We are both flexible and personal and everything we do is tailored to the specific needs of your business, allowing you to quickly fill a project need in your organisation. We will advertise, shortlist and phone screen all candidates saving you time and money every single time.
"An excellent initiative, providing graduates with essential skills and experience whilst providing valuable support and expertise to the business. I would encourage every business in the UK to adopt an intern" (Vince McKeown, Scottish Council for Development and Industry)
- Low-cost advertising, shortlisting and phone screening
- Low-risk solution for employing temporary or permanent staff
- Highly-skilled graduate talent to work on your project needs
- Easy, fast and hassle-free option
If you need skilled staff for a short-term project or to fill employment gaps in your organisation, AAI can provide highly motivated, talented and work-ready individuals any week of the year. Our paperless service is designed to save you time and money while promoting your opportunity to the widest possible audience.
"It's been great to work with AAI over the last few years, I've been impressed by their smooth service and their ability to reach talented graduates, some of whom are now working with us on a longer term basis." (Carolyn Sawers, Big Lottery Fund)
- Widen and enhance your company's talent pool
- Low-cost advertising, shortlisting and phone screening
- Flexible, temporary staff to complete urgent and overdue projects
- A perfect solution to fill employment gaps including maternity leave and sabbaticals
- Fresh knowledge and skills into your organisation.
With contacts in universities across the UK, we can help you widen your talent pool and reach the best person for the job. We’ll help you save on employee time and admin costs when recruiting for new staff, whether for a short-term project or to fill employment gaps such as sabbaticals or maternity leave. We can also help the businesses you support with affordable prices.
We offer a transparent service which is unique in its simplicity and speed.
"We have run a highly successful internship programme since March 2011. We currently have AAI candidates in various positions throughout the Council and with our third sector partners, almost all of whom have been recruited through AAI." (Sandra Inrig, Senior Economic Development Officer, East Renfrewshire Council)
- Easy engagement with university graduates from across the UK
- Low-cost advertising, shortlisting and phone screening
- Solution to fill employment gaps such as maternity leave or sabbaticals
- Partnering together to achieve economic development in your area