Sunderland graduate to help IT firm launch new division

A Sunderland based IT and telecommunications provider is breaking into new markets thanks to an enterprising graduate intern.

Andrew Wilkinson, 21, has joined Affinity Systems through the University of Sunderland’s Graduate Internship Scheme to manage the company’s marketing and sales strategy as it prepares to launch a new division.

Affinity Systems, based in Hendon’s Stanfield Business Centre, specialises in networks, telephone technology and call management systems.

Established in 2010 by Sunderland University graduate Al Yong, the company boasts an impressive client portfolio of regional and national businesses and has recently secured significant investment from Northstar Ventures to set up a new specialist engineering division of the company.

Rymote, which will specialise in Cisco engineering and reselling services, is due to launch in early November and new recruit Andrew will play a key role in planning and executing the service’s marketing strategy.

The company joined the internship scheme, which helps place graduates with local SME businesses, and worked with Nickola Gray, internship development manager, to recruit the role.

Affinity Systems business development manager Tal Widdrington said: “Due to the rapid growth of the company and the upcoming launch of our new service, we had got to the stage where we were in a position to take on a new member of staff to manage our marketing and sales full time.

“Affinity System’s ethos is very much about giving others the opportunity to develop and we appreciate the value a new graduate can add to a business so we contacted the University to enquire about the internship scheme.

“The scheme is great for smaller business as it reduces recruitment costs and has allowed us to recruit from a pool of graduate talent and evaluate the intern for permanent employment, ensuring we have the best candidate for the job in the long-term.”

Andrew graduated from the University of Sunderland with a 2:1 in Media and Communications in July and, faced with stiff competition for graduate jobs, registered for the Internship Scheme to help him gain experience to boost his CV.

Andrew started at Affinity Systems last month and is already relishing his new role as a marketing executive, looking after the company’s social media pages and developing campaigns to drive future sales.

Andrew said: “So many graduates undervalue internships, and there is a misconception that interns spend their days photocopying but the reality couldn’t be further from the truth.

“Within my first week I was devising sales and marketing campaigns and implementing a new social media strategy to raise the company’s profile.

“I’ve been given a position of authority and real projects to get involved in. My ideas and opinions are valued and I am applying my skills to a tangible role which will help the company achieve its goals and allow me to develop myself professionally.”

Tal said: “Andrew has been a valuable addition to the team. He has some great ideas on how we can really improve our marketing and sales potential, particularly through social media and online channels. The company has ambitious plans to grow into new markets and we are confident that Andrew will help us achieve this.”

Affinity Systems plans to take on more staff this year as it launches Rymote and seeks to expand its telephone management packages to attract more public sector clients such as schools and doctors surgeries.

The company is one of many businesses to benefit from the University of Sunderland’s Graduate Internship scheme since it was launched in 2009.

Nickola Gray, Internship Development Manager at the University of Sunderland, said: “The Internship Scheme was designed to meet the needs of both ambitious regional organisations and graduates looking to take their first steps on the career ladder.

“Andrew’s appointment at Affinity Systems not only gives him the opportunity to put his skills into practice, but allows Affinity Systems to benefit from the ideas and enthusiasm of a new graduate as they expand the business.”

The Internship Scheme offers small- to- medium sized business a financial contribution to employ a recent graduate on a fixed term contract and gives graduates the opportunity to work with a variety of organisations across the North East. Current internship vacancies can be found at http://services.sunderland.ac.uk/hr/staffrecruitment/internships.

For more information, contact the Graduate Internship Team, at internships@sunderland.ac.uk or call 0191 515 3315.