Catching up with student Charlie Smith from INTERN, supporting local businesses

Eleana Davidson on 5 May 2020
Catching up with student Charlie Smith from INTERN, supporting local businesses

As part of our new series on student entrepreneurs, we’re going to be chatting to inspirational students around the country, hoping to inspire you to perhaps take that leap you’ve been thinking about for a while or give you more insight on roads already travelled. First up we have Charlie, who just last week launched a non-profit named INTERN, which is supporting local businesses during this difficult time. With this initiative he hopes to help with marketing and advertising needs, keeping small companies in contact with their clients and customers whilst lockdown is still enforced. So without further ado, let’s dive straight in. 

Firstly, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

Hi, my name is Charlie Smith and I’m a 19-year-old advertising student at the University of the Creative Arts in Farnham. 

And what gave you the idea to start INTERN?

The idea for the agency came when my mum received a courtesy call from the owner of the hairdressing salon she uses. The purpose of the call was to stay in contact with her clients. Like others, the salon had been forced to temporarily close because of COVID-19. The owner mentioned that she was taking this time to do things she didn’t normally have time to do such as business planning and marketing. I realised that lots of small businesses were in a similar situation and we could provide a free service to help them.

What was the biggest challenge to overcome in setting up INTERN?

The biggest challenge I found when launching INTERN was getting our voice heard amongst the businesses in the local area, but with the support from our university (University of the Creative Arts) we managed to get on BBC Radio Surrey to promote the agency.

How many of you are there and what kind of support can you give to other businesses? 

We are a team of seven creatives with a broad range of skills and our lecturer Mark Brill provides oversight before we present our work to our clients.

What’s your mission for INTERN? 

Our mission at INTERN is to provide support to local businesses with social media content and strategy, ad creation, web and logo design. We thought that these were some of the services that local businesses would need during this difficult time.

What skills do you think you need to be a successful entrepreneur?

I think the skills you need to be a successful entrepreneur are; To be confident in your own work, take every opportunity that comes your way and don’t be afraid to ask others for help and advice.

What would be a piece of advice you’d give to fellow students like yourself who are looking to help others? 

Work out what you can do to help others, also doing the work for free as a small action now to help a client could turn them into a paying client.

We see you’re currently in 2nd year at UCA, what’s next for you after university and beyond? 

After university, I am keen to get out into work and start working at the forefront of advertising. I would love to be at one of the top agencies serving the biggest clients and really pushing the boundaries of what advertising can be.

And finally, before you go, Charlie, what is the first thing you'll do when lockdown is lifted?

The first thing I am going to do once lockdown is lifted is catch up with friends and probably go to the pub.

Thank you Charlie! 

We hope you’ve enjoyed reading this glimpse of his story. What are you doing to help those who are in need during lockdown? If you’ve got a story of your own, let us know at @studenthutuk and if you want to get involved with our COVID opinion panel helping universities and brands around the country understand what students need during this time, you can sign up for free here

Eleana Davidson
Eleana Davidson on 5 May 2020