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Graduate intern makes business child's play

23rd January 2018

One of the first graduates from a new Masters programme in Digital Marketing has proved the perfect candidate to help spearhead an online strategy for an award-winning start-up business.

Thanks to the Northumbria Enterprise Business Support (NEBS) project, Sam Spiers, 27, has joined Weekend Box on a 12-month internship. The NEBS project focuses on bringing graduates and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) together to promote entrepreneurship, innovation and growth through access to emerging talent.

Entrepreneur Andy Stephenson founded Weekend Box in 2013, to specialise in the design and delivery of creatively themed activity boxes for three to eight year-olds. The Newcastle-based company won Start-Up of the Year in the 2014 Start-Up Loans Awards, and Andy is now expanding its business with its “magical mix of things for children to make and do”. Through his internship, Sam’s responsibilities include digital marketing campaigns, website optimisation, market research and new methods of customer engagement. He will also help promote the company’s philosophy to be ethical, practical and green, including its commitment to using 95% recycled materials.

Owner Andy Stephenson said: “NEBS has been a fantastic resource for us as a growing business. We are a small team so it is vital that we find the right skills, talent and personality to fit the needs and culture of the business. Northumbria takes a very proactive approach encouraging students to advance their skills, and NEBS simplifies the search process by providing access to people like Sam. He is already having an impact, bringing strategy, creativity and a practical approach to the role. We have grown rapidly and being able to recruit a high-quality graduate as an intern is extremely valuable.”

Sam added: “I studied International Business Management as an undergraduate and spent several years working in the leisure and hospitality industry. When my daughter came along it was time to refocus my career. I decided to go back to Northumbria to develop my skills and focus on the elements I enjoyed most in my previous roles, which were marketing and business development. I’ve gained so much in terms of practical skills through project-based learning, using different software and working with external practitioners. Weekend Box is a fantastic environment to work in and put what I’ve learned into practice.”

Victor Ottaway, Graduate Internship Manager at Northumbria, said: “The NEBS Project demonstrates the collaborative role universities can play in promoting business and economic growth. Our interns bring energy, drive and innovative thinking to a business, and they can provide fantastic career prospects for our graduates.”

Set up with support from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), NEBS contributes £3,825 towards intern salary costs, and guarantees a minimum starting salary of £17,000 pro-rata for the graduates.

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