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University of Bristol fund helps local businesses through COVID-19 challenges

University of Bristol
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The COVID-19 SME Internship Fund, which totalled over £100,000, opened for applications in April with the aim of supporting charities, social enterprises and start-ups to navigate the challenges brought about by the pandemic.

The fund, which had over 2600 applications from local SMEs, current students, and recent graduates from the University of Bristol, is run by the University’s Careers Service.

Organisations had to demonstrate their response to coronavirus-related challenges, how their core activity will benefit from an internship and their intent to retain interns on a permanent basis.

Lettus Grow, Indus Four, Learning with Parents, Stornaway, Bristol 24/7 and Gapsquare are six of over 70 local successful organisations who have hosted interns from the University.

Stuart Johnson, Director of the Careers Service at the University of Bristol said:

“We know the last six months have proven especially challenging for businesses in our community, and for our students who find themselves in the midst of huge economic uncertainty.

“Our fund has not only helped businesses step up to meet the challenges posed by the pandemic but has also offered students valuable work experience where internships had previously been cancelled. The huge number of applications we received, and the overwhelmingly positive feedback we had, shows just how vital our support has been for our students and fellow local organisations during these difficult times.”

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The internships are already having an impact, with people analytics company Gapsquare recently launching a free dashboard thanks to the help of Bristol graduate Robert Tunstall and final-year Kyle Pidgeon, who began their internships in June.

Using research from eight leading institutions – including the ONS, McKinsey, and Gartner – businesses can compare themselves with different industries through the interactive platform, where they can also track changes to operations since the start of the pandemic.

Robert Tunstall, who graduated this summer with a Masters in Chemistry, said:

“I would wholeheartedly recommend undertaking an internship, as this allowed me my first experience outside of science in a more business-orientated environment – something I thoroughly enjoyed! It gave me the opportunity to apply the skills I’d gained from my degree to solving real-world problems, giving me a true sense of fulfilment.”

Hazel Lush, Senior Marketing Manager at Gapsquare, added:

“Robert and Kyle have risen to the challenge of a very independent project about a very important theme. The level of research and insight involved is something we couldn’t have achieved without the support from the University of Bristol and the dedication of its students Robert and Kyle.”

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