Rachael Carter of the SOHO Wine Co talks to Gill South about her experience with taking on an intern - Frenchman Corentin Nevot.
Our intern, Corentin Nevot, sent out over 1000 emails to various people in the New Zealand and Australian wine industry and other 'like-minded' industries too. He only got two replies - one from me and one from a vegan wine producer in Gisborne. He was doing a Higher Technician Cert in International Trade and looking for a two month free-of- charge internship.
I liked the idea that he specialised in export and thought if I got him in front of a computer for two months sending out our story around the world he was bound to attract someone, which he did. He has caught the attention of several players for our export markets but the most important of course is Vici Wines & Spirits taking us into 50 American states.
Looking after your intern
Corentin needed accommodation so I arranged for him to live and pay rent with a friend of mine on Shelly Beach Rd, Herne Bay, one minute up the road from work. I asked him for a personal and professional reference just in case he was a crazy Frenchman.
Both references were perfect and then there was the Facebook checking. We became friends on Facebook and I could see this young man was extremely popular, so safe to stay with my friend up the road.
Language and socialising
Corentin's English was excellent via email and pretty good overall in person. He was very well looked after by my friends and family. Ceri Bain, my friend whom he stayed with, looked after him very well. She is still in touch with him and fondly calls him FRENCHY.
My other friends all had this fussy Frenchman over for dinner as well (despite the fact he is an avid fisherman he doesn't eat fish.. not to mention MOST other foods). He at first seemed very quiet until we got him out on the town with the SOHO girls
then his personality really opened up. My parents also cooked for him and we had a lot of family dinners at the various restaurants that serve SOHO. We all went away for a long weekend to Waiheke with the dogs and kids etc so he was very much a part of our family.
Corentin's brief from SOHO
His first day at work consisted of me going over our key points of difference. I did a spec sheet for him (called SOHO FEVER PITCH) plus a link to our website where there is a great presentation on SOHO. We went over countries of interest and what to look for in a distributor's portfolio.
He would spend all day researching and compiling lists of appropriate distributors around the world. Corentin would then send emails to all of these potential distributors from my computer (cc himself in of course) explaining who he was and what he was doing at SOHO. The email would consist of a brief five pointer about SOHO.. also listing our current distributors around the world and how we were seeking others - we are represented by the likes of Bibendum Wines in the UK who have an amazing reputation so this was a good attraction.
Once he got a bite we would both discuss a suitable reply and he would then email the customer an export price list. I would also get Corentin to research the interested party ensuring this distributor had good financial backing.
Involve the intern in everything
Whenever we had events Corentin would always put on his SOHO t-shirt and start pouring. He very quickly became a wonderful member of our team. As I told him one of the most important things in life is to enjoy your work and at SOHO while we work hard and achieve a lot we have a lot of fun doing it. Corentin loves this philosophy and told me he was over the moon to get my initial reply to his email.
More internships to come
I would most certainly do this again. According to Corentin he has already found his replacement and is sending me her details. I believe she is doing the same course but she is younger. Corentin and I exchange emails two to three times a week and will always be great mates.
He is grateful for the chance I gave him and I am extremely grateful to him for finding me new distributors/importers especially Chuck Squires of Vici Wines & Spirits as that find has most certainly taken SOHO to another level and made us a very serious contender in the NZ wine game.
Next week: How can you tell when your business is really in trouble? When do you put your hand up for help? Send your stories of survival or closing down and moving on to me, Gill South at the email link below: