Ever had that feeling in the pit of your stomach that, somewhere along the career ladder, you took a wrong step? There’s nothing worse. Especially when, ten years after you started your training – and thousands of pounds later – you realise that you’ve missed out on your dream. Or have you? Dupsy Abiola had the same feeling. So, she left her job and everything she knew to take a risk: giving up her well-paid, respectable job as a barrister, she decided to set up her own business. You’d be right to think it sounds scary. But so far, the risk is paying off…
Dupsy’s career as a lawyer had been something she’d worked hard for since leaving school at 18 – she was passionate about it and, after gaining a coveted place at Oxford to study law, and a place to work at prestigious City firm Fishburns following her degree, she was successful. But there was something missing. And when her little sister, Joy, found herself amongst thousands of other young people struggling to find an internship – and a foot on to the career ladder - following their studies, she saw a gap in the market.
‘Young people are staring hard times in the face,’ Dupsy, now 30, explained. ‘And so many – including my sister – couldn’t see a way out. It’s ultra-competitive these days – and scary. I tried to help my sister search for an appropriate placement, but there was nothing central to help her search. It was crazy. But I knew I could create one.’
And that she did. Taking the brave decision to leave the security of her job, Dupsy set up InternAvenue.com – a website for students and graduates looking for jobs or experience to meet suitable employers. Once they’ve logged on, future interns can create profiles which employers can search and find their ideal worker. And, perhaps most importantly, it cuts out the catch 22 situation so many young people find themselves in – eager to get work experience, but left at the bottom of the pile because they need experience to get, err, experience. At InternAvenue.com, it’s easy to show more of yourself than just what your CV says. Genius!
‘I know to many people, leaving my job might seem like a brave or even reckless thing to do,’ she continued. ‘But for me it was easy. I’d always had an interest in business and dreamed of owning my own company – I had to give it a go. Yes, the generous salary (and the shopping!) was hard to say goodbye to – I had to be strict with myself for a good while. But I’m lucky I have the support of my law firm – and the rewards are definitely worth it.’
Dupsy is not short of those. After appearing on Dragon’s Den on Sunday night (Oct 7), she secured an investment of £100,000 from businessman Peter Jones, who was thoroughly impressed by her business and ideas.
‘Hearing Peter Jones say he wanted to invest in Intern Avenue and that he believed in the company’s vision was just amazing,’ Dupsy said. ‘I’d worked for so long, practising and preparing – making sure everything was perfect. I felt it was the culmination of a lot of work I’d put in.’
And, more than that, the website is working – and going from strength to strength. So does she regret her decision? ‘Absolutely not!’
Visit www.internavenue.com to find your own internship…