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Covid Interns-combatting hurdles and creating opportunities

Ireland’s entrepreneurial spirit is still burning bright and the country’s reputation for helping each other at a time of need is also being enhanced, despite the ongoing pandemic lockdown, it would seem.

Paddy Ryder (23), and Rob Muldowney (23), are two recent graduates of Global Business Studies from Trinity College Dublin. The pair have wasted no time transforming from business students to real-life entrepreneurs overnight. As many of us spent time worrying about our futures and prospective careers in the aftermath of Covid-19, the twenty-three-year-olds were busy at work coming up with solutions to the COVID problem.

Using an innovative yet simple idea, Paddy and Rob became the founders of a brilliant not-for-profit initiative Covid-Interns.

Having worked together on projects throughout their four years at university, the pair decided to utilise their partnership to provide a mutually beneficial service to graduate students and Irish businesses. – the founders

Paddy Ryder from Crecora in Co. Limerick explained the goal of the business to connect recent graduates and businesses, both of whom may be in need of a helping hand.

“The idea is to help these businesses overcome the huge disruption as a result of Covid-19 but also to give students an opportunity to gain relevant skills and experience.”

The Limerick native said the pair came up with the concept when their plans post-degree had been altered by the virus. With many businesses being forced to lay-off employees and others coming to a complete halt, employment prospects seemed uninspiring. This ironically inspired Paddy to develop the platform that is Covid Interns.

“I had the idea for Covid Interns when I was applying for internships. I was in a couple of processes, and they were cancelled as a result of Covid-19. Different firms were wondering how it would disrupt them and they decided it was best to wait for hiring. I realised that I wasn’t alone in this regard.

“There was a lot of people that had their plans changed. Even students who had planned to travel could no longer travel. So, I thought there was an opportunity to offer students experience whilst helping the community and supporting small Irish businesses.” – the vision

What the Limerick businessman hopes is taken from the platform is experience and an ability to put learning into practice for students and an opportunity to grow, adapt and utilise fresh graduate perspectives for businesses in a cost-effective way.

“We hope that businesses and students both take something different from our offering. We hope that students can gain relevant skills and experience and apply what they learn in the classroom in practical settings. And we hope that businesses realise that there is an opportunity here to pivot,

“With the right help, that may be possible. But also, there are non-core or non-day to day elements, their strategic plan can now be assessed. Often these things are left on the long finger and well, you know, when they’re not integral to everyday success, they just become left in the dark a bit,

“But now that businesses have a bit more time on their hands, there’s an opportunity to reassess these and to get around to the items that they’ve put on the long finger for maybe a bit too long,” Paddy explained.

Mr Muldowney, from Terenure, Dublin, shared the success of the project, acknowledging the growing interest in signups with over 100 businesses and graduates already signed up in a matter of weeks since launching.

“We’ve been blown away by the interests and the level of signups so far. We only launched a couple of weeks ago and we already have 100 plus businesses and students signed up,

“So yeah, it’s been great. And that number is growing every day. We’re constantly getting in contact with new businesses and other volunteers that want to help out. The interest levels have been fantastic so far, and a very positive thing is it’s continuing every day we’re getting people contacting us about it. So, it’s been really good so far.”

The Dublin man was optimistic about the future while also acknowledging that graduates will be entering into the job market in an unusual and unexpected environment. However, he was confident with the easing of lockdown rules businesses will begin to re-open and employment opportunities would arise in due time.

“In terms of career prospects for graduates, I think we could have been dealt a better hand. But to be honest, it seems like Covid won’t be that bad, all the lockdown stuff is easing. It might take a little bit more time for people to get jobs then perhaps they were anticipating but it’s nothing insurmountable. There’s definitely a lot of worry about at the moment, but I reckon it’ll be better than we expect.”

Advice for new graduates? Believe!

So, what is the future of Covid Interns after Covid?

“In terms of whether Covid Interns will continue after lockdown, we have no definitive plans for that. However, we could see it evolving into an extracurricular society where even after Covid students can sign up and help a struggling business with their commercial problems.

“I think there’ll be demand on both sides for that. And it’s not necessarily just a Covid thing, where there’d be demand on both sides. I could see it being continued after lockdown and after Covid-19 subsides,” explained co-founder Rob.

What direction would the pair offer to graduates wanting to pursue an entrepreneurial career?

“I think one thing that has really benefited me this year was just putting myself out there in new situations. For instance, this year, I got involved in the Hundred Minds initiative. And I was a student ambassador for Movember. I met phenomenal people that I otherwise would not have met. And similarly, the Irish Graduate’s Network, it’s an organisation that I’m involved with. We run a monthly event for between 22 to 30-year olds and normally a speaker followed by a couple of drinks. You meet phenomenal people”, explained the Limerick man.

He went on to share some well cherished advice that we can all take something from.

Someone once told me that you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with

Paddy Ryder

Paddy added:

“And while that might not necessarily be true. I think it attests to the fact that if you hang out with likeminded people and if you bounce off each other. I think Covid Interns was really a prime example of that. Rob and I were just hanging out and stumbled across the idea really by chance and we’ve been pleasantly surprised at how it’s gone.”

It’s amazing what can happen when two innovative and intuitive individuals join forces. These young businessmen are certainly a promising example of Ireland’s future entrepreneurs.

And if there’s anything we can take from our chat with Paddy and Rob, it’s to remain optimistic and keep making lemonade out of lemons!🍋

Oh, and to choose your five friends wisely- you may end up coming up with the next best business venture by doing so, just like these guys!💡👏