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‘Lockdown Generation’: Why We’re Hiring Interns During a Recession

Carmen Reid 24 January 2022

If you can spare the time and resources for a graduate intern this summer – you absolutely should.

Here’s why…

Pity the class of 2020. No proms, no graduation ceremonies, no final exams for many… and then they emerge blinking from their years of study into, potentially, the worst economic depression of all time.

With this very difficult situation in mind, when we interviewed (on Zoom of course) the three potential candidates for our one Copylab paid summer internship, we decided to take them all on. Welcome to Alex Webb, Georgina Hodges and Rory Ballantyne.

Plus, we already have a part-time marketing intern, Polina Atabekian, who started in the spring, and last year’s intern, Lucien Schaffhauser, has re-joined us after a stint of military service.

The more the merrier

So why three new interns to join our other two? Well, in many ways it’s as easy to train three, or more, people as it is to train one. If you’re talking, explaining and preparing the materials, you may as well go through the process with a small group as with one person.

Thanks to match funding from a Santander scheme that we access through Glasgow University, taking on a third young person did not feel like an unmanageable commitment.

Plus, we wanted to give a chance and a helping hand to these graduates, who are facing some of the toughest employment situations imaginable.

Who do we look for?

We need a range of people with a range of skills working for us here at Copylab. We want expert writers, along with sticklers for grammar, punctuation and all the writing rules. But they also need to have that flair for language and a well-turned phrase that only comes from years of reading and years of writing.

In addition, they need to know about financial markets and investments and be deeply interested in writing about them, as well as enjoy editing and proofing other people’s investment writing.

Organised people are more than welcome, so too are those who can maintain calm. This is a busy company with lots of plates spinning.

People have come to us from different backgrounds. We have turned writers into investment writers; we’ve also turned professional investors into investment writers. Our ideal candidate probably lies somewhere in between, so this year’s graduate interns have history, economics, business and art history qualifications.

We’ve taken on another three summer recruits because it can be hard to choose. Our selection process involves editing and writing tests as well as the interview, but it’s still a difficult decision.

We’re wondering:

  • Are they bright?
  • Teachable?
  • Will they develop impeccable grammar and that eye for detail with some training?
  • Can their talent for writing be improved?
  • How much investment knowledge can we impart and how quickly can we do it?

What do we gain?

So, why do we do this every summer? What’s in it for us? Well, some potentially great raw recruits. Also, training the newbies lets us reflect on what we do and how well we do it.

How do we teach our skills?

What are the most important elements?

Are we rusty?

And can we train people better?

Plus, we usually learn some great Microsoft hacks, and really useful things about millennial lifestyles, culture and the latest language – all so useful for writers.

This year, unfortunately, we have the fiddly task of teaching our interns remotely. So, there’s not much office chat, just five faces staring out from a Zoom screen. And our usual hands-on style of pick an exercise, work through it and talk it over, is proving rather stiff and stilted, so we’re going to have to think of new things to do.

We’ve moved to a part-time model, because no one wants to be stuck in an online learning situation for five days a week. But we’re trying hard as everyone wants this to work.

This year is different

This summer, because of Covid-19, there are bedrooms up and down the country filled with hugely bright and hard-working young people. Their degrees are finished but their plans are trashed. They are mainly back home with their parents. They can’t see their friends and they have very little to do.

No cinemas, no shops, no cafes, no pubs, no hotels… so most temporary jobs aren’t even available. Their summer volunteering or work trips are cancelled, their first jobs are on hold, their CVs are landing with companies who don’t know if they can hang on for a few more months, let alone hire new recruits.

Imagine being 22 and in this awful situation.

Can you help?

So, if there is any way you can hire and train an intern this summer, even for the very short term, please do it. They will benefit by learning new skills and filling that yawning CV gap and you will also benefit more than you might imagine.

Contact your local uni or college, there are people there who will tell you what could work, post your vacancies to their job boards and help you to find exactly the right people.

It’s in all of our interests to give this hugely talented and inspiring generation a helping hand right now. And you may find a brilliant new long-term recruit this way.

We’ve certainly been bowled over by our intern hires and we love having ‘100% home-grown’ writers who do everything the Copylab way.

And, massive thanks from us to Glasgow University, who do so much to make interning work so well for us.