This week we follow up with Covid Interns founders Paddy Ryder and Rob Muldowney. We covered the launch of Covid Interns back in June last year and since then the business has by all accounts gone from strength to strength.

It’s worth mentioning that applications for 2021 are now open and there are hundreds of candidates waiting to hear about potential roles and projects. As the candidates usually get snapped up very quickly, we advise potential clients to contact Covid Interns as early as possible!

Here’s how you can get in touch to learn more about Covid Interns. Check out our website or email us at info@covidinterns.com. If you have a role in mind, you can submit it through our website application form and start receiving CVs of proposed candidates for review. We also invite you to join our community on LinkedIn and Instagram if you are interested in following our progress!

As founders can you remind IIBN readers what gave you the idea for Covid Interns in the first place and what is the core service you provide?

Like many businesses, Covid Interns was born out of frustration; as following our graduation it became increasingly difficult to secure summer internships due to the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. We discussed how many other students were in similar positions and realised that there was an opportunity to help small businesses that were in disarray as lockdowns dried up traditional revenue streams.

Covid Interns provides a matchmaking service where businesses gain access to recent graduates and university students without going through an extensive and costly hiring process. Covid Interns sources and screens the best candidates who can help lend a helping hand over a short-term project, longer-term internship or full-time position depending on your bespoke needs.

How successful has Covid Interns been to date and what makes it so special? 

Since its founding in May 2020, the Covid Interns initiative has successfully placed over 150 students and graduates with organisations that needed more hands-on deck to navigate the tricky pandemic fallout. Our candidates have received rave reviews from our partnered organisations, our trust pilot rating is 4.8/5, and we have seen strong retention with our clientele as many have come back for second and third candidates.

As the initiative was born out of motivation to help the community more so than profit, we are personally invested in the needs of our clientele and strive to deliver the most seamless and effective recruitment service possible, all while charging below-market-rate fees. In fact, we were purely pro bono during the summer of 2020, reflecting our social impact intent.

In addition, we cater to a broad mix of placement proposals due to the diversity of our candidate base in terms of backgrounds, interests, skills, and employment desires. We have placed candidates with charities, financial services firms, startups, restaurants, consultancies, and many more! We take placements on a case by case basis and have successfully proposed candidates for roles ranging from part-time projects to full time graduate positions. Furthermore, many of our candidates are prepared to volunteer if the role is flexible and appropriate in terms of workload. Whether you have a traditional role in mind or something more quirky, Covid Interns may have the solution for you.

What have been the highlights of the business so far?

It has been immensely satisfying and rewarding to be able to help both businesses and students during their time of need. The thank you emails from grateful business owners and students offer a consistent stream of motivation and it has been extremely fulfilling to help play a small hand in many businesses’ recovery.

On a personal note, featuring in the Financial Times was a pipe dream and offers a nice memento to look back upon in years to come. Perhaps this attests to just how far the initiative has exceeded our initial expectations and we have been truly blown away by the support and buy-in from the community.

Who can avail of the service and what geographical locations are covered?

The diversity of clients we have worked with to date reflects the breadth of organisations that can approach us for candidates; we have catered to over 25 industries so far. The placements that get snapped up fastest are those which offer an exciting prospect to young people to apply their coursework or hobby skills, and learn and improve those skills in a professional context. Remuneration can sweeten the deal, but many of the voluntary projects received great uptake from top of the range candidates. Covid Interns is not limited to certain industries or traditional paid roles either – any organisations with exciting projects, internships, and roles offering great learning potential to student and graduate applicants can reach out!

The majority of our placements are remote, so we cover pretty much any geographical location with an appropriate time zone to GMT. Funnily enough however, we have placed candidates with organisations stretching from New York to Singapore!

What are the skill sets of the interns being placed. What business sectors do they cover? 

Our diverse pool of students means that we now have a broad community of interns that range from computer science to sales. This means we can offer a sector agnostic service, extending our reach and assisting a greater variety of businesses. We are also actively trying to expand our reach to various charities to assist them as many funding avenues that their causes rely upon have been cut.

How enthusiastic are the interns and how have they been working out, in the field?

Young people have had a very rough time in the pandemic as employment opportunities have shrunk and travel plans remain foiled. Young people are very motivated to use their time in the pandemic period productively rather than binge on Netflix, and we have seen this over 2020 with strong uptake for both paid and voluntary placements. We just received over 100 CVs in December alone for placements in 2021, so the enthusiasm for opportunities has sustained.

At the end of 2020, we polled all the organisations we worked with on how their Covid Interns placements went. The placements received an almost perfect 5/5 stars, reflecting the strong performance of the candidates Covid Interns attracted.

Have you any close affiliations to business groups that you work with or that you’ve helped?

Our interactions with the IIBN to date have been fantastic and we have been very pleased with some of our placements with network members. We hope to continue this relationship into the future. One such placement was partnering a keen Trinity student with Kingsley Aikins and The Networking Institute to assist on digital marketing projects during the first lockdown.

What number of and what type of businesses have benefited from using the Covid Interns service? (If you have a testimonial from a happy client include it in here).

No client out of the 150+ with whom we have worked has been the same. Some have been Irish, others have been French, British, or American. We have worked with new startups and generational businesses. Our clients have ranged from charities to financial services firms, and tasks from accounting projects to digital marketing campaigns. Despite the heterogeneity of business domains, we have been able to deliver consistently high-calibre candidates to our clients due to the diversity of our applicants.

The HOPE foundation attests that “at a time when we in HOPE were faced with an uncertain future with respect to securing  funding and thus ability to maintain our staffing levels  due to the devastating impact which the pandemic has had  on the charity sector in particular – our making contact with Paddy and Rob, in hindsight, has been one of the positives we have taken from this pandemic experience.

They replied to our request for volunteer support in a very efficient and practical way and have provided HOPE with an intern who is a perfect fit for our current needs”

Richie Cummins from Flag Taxi, a hot new Irish tech startup, said “Covid Interns were an invaluable help to us in a time of need. We were amazed with the calibre of the intern and the service from the team in Covid Interns. They listened to what we were trying to achieve and the type of role available before assigning us with an excellent intern that was eager to learn in our space.”

Is the placement process simple and how long does it take? 

Our process involves interested parties completing a five minute contact form which collects all the relevant information we need. From there, we liaise with our students/graduates before putting you in touch with identified suitable candidates.

Typically, we endeavour to connect you with a student within a number of weeks and take the ordeal of recruitment out of your hands so business owners can focus on running their business.

Is the Covid Interns service expensive? (Use this answer to really hit home the below market rates and that it’s very economical for a client to use Covid Interns).

Covid Interns was entirely a pro bono platform during 2020 and any cost faced were bootstrapped out of pocket. Our ambition is to sustain the initiative given that the ramifications of COVID-19 for businesses will be long lasting. As cash flow is needed to make Covid Interns sustainable, we will begin to charge modest, below-market-rate fees for our services in 2021. The fee charged will be based on the length of the role offered, and the size and health of the organization. The fee will never exceed the shallow hundreds-of-euro mark. For charities and non-profits, we will remain pro bono.

What does 2021 hold for Covid Interns?

We hope to build upon the numerous placements we have made to date and continue to scale the initiative. Increasingly, there is a desire from students to build upon their experience and gain relevant practical skills when working alongside their studies and recent graduates seeking full-time opportunities. We have begun placing these students on a first come first served basis. So, if you’re thinking of using the Covid Interns service, it’s best to contact us sooner than later to be certain you don’t miss out.

A reminder that applications are now open and we have hundreds of candidates waiting to hear about potential roles and projects. As our candidates usually get snapped up very quickly, we advise potential clients to contact us as early as possible!