Covid Interns was set up by Trinity Global Business students Paddy Ryder and Rob Muldowney, both founding board members with the Irish Graduates Network (IGN).

Having noted the immense disruption faced by Irish SMEs due to the coronavirus and the cancellation of numerous internship programmes, we (Paddy and Rob) decided to set up Covid Interns, a not for profit, with the aim of connecting small Irish businesses, facing the commercial challenges of Covid-19, with volunteer university students and graduates who can help.

Having finished up our exams in May, we decided to get stuck into the idea, buy the domain and build out the website, with a helping hand from WordPress! Since then, we have been onboarding students and businesses and officially launched last Wednesday.

We have been pleasantly surprised with the strong rate of demand for the offering and have been receiving CVs from all across Ireland and even further afield from universities in the UK over the last number of days. Similarly, we have been pleased with the demand from Irish businesses. We now have several students placed in different companies and more SMEs in talks with further students, figuring out how to work together to solve their issues.

Having begun placing our first batch of interns, we have put a particular emphasis on working with students that have technical skills that can work effectively, when working from home, meaning there is no on the job training. This has resulted in partnering tech-savvy students with digital marketing skills into Irish businesses as social distancing regulation has dried up traditional revenue streams and driven business from physical channels to online. Such disruption means that it is now imperative to have a robust e-commerce and social media presence, however, often these non-core activities have been under-utilised.

Having spoken to numerous businesses over the last few weeks, we have found that although regular activity has been disrupted, firms are availing of the opportunity to deliver on non-core elements of their strategic plans that have been put on the long finger. Our interns are keen to help businesses work on those longer-term strategic projects, as it also allows them to develop their skills as they seek employment down the line.

In fact, since launching, we have linked several students into various restaurants, working on helping these businesses pivot to the online space by building out social media channels and increasing online presence. Other students are working upon projects centred around improving search engine optimisation, PR campaigns, videography and improving cash flow management.

However, also we have students available and interested in helping in a variety of capacities such as digital marketing, social media, website building, finance, accounting, strategic planning and others looking for tech roles. These young people have the skills, savvy, and drive to help businesses in these currently crucial areas. One student even requested some work in French, so we are still working out how we can sort him out!

We hope, the prospect of taking on a skilled volunteer to complete these lurking tasks is attractive, both from potential results and cost perspectives albeit there is some time needed to train and work alongside the intern. With Covid Interns, a business can get access to new skills and do so for absolutely free. This relies on proactive and empathetic volunteers, who want to help small businesses weather the storm, lending their expertise – many of such have applied, and this is evidence of something truly touching.

Our volunteers want to make lasting differences in their communities by helping local businesses navigate Covid-19, and gain valuable work experience along the way. If you are a small business manager looking for an additional set of hands or wish to find out more, please visit www.covidinterns.com, email Covidinterns@gmail.com or reach out to Paddy or Rob individually.

COVID INTERNS