Getting that first career break can be daunting for graduates and young people.

That’s why we’ve been bringing in interns and graduate trainees from universities across Scotland – and finding some of our finest employees along the way.

How it began

Back in August 2016 when our uber-bright graduate trainee Kirsty Nicolson typed her first blog for Copylab, little did she or we know what was coming.

Kirsty NicholsonInternship was a relatively new concept for Copylab. Some were very enthusiastic about the idea; others, less so. Taking a raw recruit and turning them into a knowledgeable investment writer that we could let loose on our clients – impossible! Oh ye of little faith.

Kirsty’s Parton Wisdom blog was about her and fellow intern Ruaridh’s first month in the job.

Tumble out of bed

And stumble to the kitchen

Pour myself a cup of ambition

And yawn and stretch and try to come to life.

The first verse of Dolly Parton’s hit 1980 single mirrors my current position, but the rest of the song certainly does not. While Dolly was barely gettin’ by, I’ve had a great first month at Copylab – so much so that I would like to project it to the world via this blog post.

As I sit on the bus each morning, I feel like I’ve finally joined the exclusive 9-to-5 Club, which was nothing but an enigma during my time at university. I don’t think I ever rose early enough to witness the swarms of grey suits and briefcases march into town to begin the daily grind. A few weeks later, however, I can appreciate the life-changing effects of a cup of coffee, and I bask in the glory of a Sunday morning lie-in. I swapped Netflix for the news, and I ceased keeping up with the Kardashians.

During my first week at Copylab, it sometimes felt as if I was writing market commentaries and editing fund reports in a foreign language. I jumped (OK, I fell) into a flurry of ‘Brexit’ and quarter-end activity, Googling every second word that I read, then Googling the words contained in those definitions. But with a series of lessons and explanations from my colleagues, as well as a great deal of practice, I feel I have entered week five with an understanding I never thought I would grasp.

The internship started with lessons in basic grammar. Once Ruaridh and I mastered the art of the Oxford comma (and how not to use it), we moved on to explanations about stocks and bonds. From day two, things became pretty hands-on as we began writing our first market commentaries. Then we were editing fund reports using different style guides, then we were attempting to write blogs – hopefully this one’s an improvement. The learning process has been one of reading examples, trying them out for ourselves and receiving thorough feedback. I think Copylab’s first intern programme has been really successful so far in giving us a glimpse into investment writing, and I’m very appreciative of everything I’m learning. I feel really included in the company, and I hope I’m starting to give something back – for example, Ruaridh and I have been compiling a news database that we update each morning so that our colleagues can glance at the headlines to gain a sense of direction in their work.

Whenever my family discusses the news, my ears prick up as I listen for a way to inject my newfound financial knowledge into their lives. Any mention of Brexit or a grumble about what it means for the economy, and I jump straight in to explain how “the globally exposed FTSE 100 actually increased over the quarter, as stocks benefited from the weaker pound”. I stumble over my words as I rush to impress them, all the while wondering if they can tell it’s a rehearsed line from my market commentary. Not only is it nice to swagger into the house on a Friday evening and proclaim, “Busy week at the office!”, but it’s also nice to gain experience and insight from this internship instead of just hanging around and making tea for everyone. I also don’t think many interns have the pleasure of being taught about the company by the founder himself. Hardly a bad way to spend 9 to 5!

As we approach the three-year anniversary of Kirsty’s employment, we’re happy to say she’s still a full-time member of staff. Not only is she a fully-fledged investment writer, one of our clients valued her so much that after failing to find their own investment writer in London, despite an extensive search, they asked if they could poach Kirsty for a couple of years.

How do we do it?

Raw talent is one thing – shaping it is another. Carmen Reid is our shaper. She spends a lot of time with graduates, imparting her knowledge, getting them to be very hands on. Mainly, our trainees learn on the job. But it’s a team effort. Both Justin (our editor in chief) and Duncan (head of Scotland) work very closely with new recruits – devising tests, carefully feeding back and encouraging self-improvement. It’s a tried and tested formula now.

Success stories

Apart from Kirsty, our one-time interns Lewis and Rachel Barrack (brother and sister, not husband and wife) have been incredible. They now work full-time in our Glasgow office on a number of clients and we don’t know what we’d do without them.

If you’re keen to work at Copylab, get in touch with our HR manager [email protected]