Internships are a valuable way for students to gain work experience. You earn while you learn, and can potentially convert the role into a full-time offer. But finding quality opportunities for internships can be hard. This guide by Student Circus will help you with job boards and resources that can help you find and land your first internship.
what is an internship?
An internship is a fixed period of work experience that students or graduates can complete with an employer to gain exposure to the professional work environment. In the UK, you will find that some employers run structured internship programmes. These are usually summer internship programmes run by MNCs and big employers for up to 12 weeks.
Some other internship opportunities are more flexible, where the duration, commitment, and job description are less defined. These opportunities, often offered by small and medium-sized employers, start-ups and local businesses, are need-based vacancies to meet the requirements of specific projects or goals of the organisation.
If it is a small business planning to expand, you can also explore the opportunity to convert the internship into a full-time offer when you graduate.
How is an internship different from a placement or a part-time job?
An internship, placement or part-time job — all three are fundamental opportunities to gain work experience, acquire new skills, and learn more about the job or industry you are keen to work in.
Placements are usually a formal part of your degree where you gain industry experience to further your skill, knowledge and understanding of the field you are studying. You will find that placements are called sandwich placements, industrial placements, placement years, or years in industry. A placement can last up to a year. It can be rotational so you get a taste of different departments in a company, or it can help you secure specialist experience in one area.
An internship, on the other hand, gives you the experience of working in a professional environment for a short duration, lasting between four weeks to four months. Some companies design their summer internship or winter internship programmes very meticulously, while others have more flexible internship opportunities where candidates work on a project and contribute in various ways.
An internship can also be pursued part-time, but it is different from other part-time jobs in the manner and type of work done. In a typical part-time job, you will find yourself making timesheets for the hours you complete, getting paid your hourly pay based on the timesheets or working in roles that are on zero-hour contracts (where you have no obligations to work a certain number of hours but can be offered work by an employer as and when the need arises). A part-time job may or may not be related to your degree or future career goals, but an internship mostly is.
where can you find internships?
Landing an internship is a big feat, but it all begins with finding quality opportunities as the first step. Where can you find quality internship openings? Here are some ideas:
Visit your University’s Career Services
The career advisers at your University’s Careers are best positioned to share resources that suit you best, according to your aptitude and interests. You should chat with them to understand how the UK job market works. In addition, Career Services often has a dedicated job board for internship listings on and around campus. They also regularly liaise with local businesses who have vacancies.
Reach out speculatively and network with employers
Regularly connect and communicate with potential employers through social media such as LinkedIn. If you are keen on interning with an organisation, consider applying speculatively even if they have no vacancies.
Search for internships on job boards
Below, we have listed some job boards that advertise internship roles that are fit for someone currently studying. Regularly check out the postings on these job boards and apply as soon as possible.
Student Circus is a platform aimed at international students. It aggregates and curates internships — both structured internships at big companies and flexible internships at startups and SMEs, who are also willing to work with international students and graduates.
Bright Network keeps a steady database of internship programmes in the following fields: Consulting, Consumer, FMCG & Retail, Engineering, Energy & Infrastructure, Financial Services, Investment Banking & Asset Management, Law, Management & Operations, Marketing, Media & PR, Pharmaceuticals & Science, Public Sector & Charity, Sales, Recruitment & Commercial, and Technology & IT Infrastructure.
These are mostly structured internships and vacation schemes from big employers. Some internship programmes are only meant for students in their penultimate year or studying particular degrees, so make sure you have read the job description carefully before applying.
Prospects job board handpicks roles and companies that will further your career meaningfully. This is why they have the most sought-after opportunities with popular graduate employers on their website. They also have detailed employer profiles for all the hiring companies they list on the job board, giving you a great starting point for your research.
The StudentJob site offers a wide range of internships across every industry you could think of. They range from fashion internships, journalism internships, marketing internships and many more. These roles are also wide-ranging in the kind of skill sets and experience they help you gain. The site also mentions that they can help you get feedback on your application.
Milkround is mainly known for posting placement opportunities, but the job board also has an internship filter. Be careful when you browse opportunities, as some internships listed here run for longer (which means they are possibly placements disguised as internships). That said, employers with highly structured internship programmes will likely be listed here.
Gradcracker specialises in STEM careers and enlists only paid opportunities for internships. If you are a STEM student, you may find the website useful for many other resources, too.
Rate My Placement website lists a lot of opportunities for summer internships. The job board also has a “Best Student Employer” badge that features/highlights the best companies It also hosts company profiles with information about the employer, current opportunities at the company, and reviews from former/current employees.
Internwise UK offers fresh graduates a wide range of internship opportunities across various industries and locations. You will find internships in a variety of fields, and not just big graduate internship programmes here. Some students find the concentration of most opportunities in London restrictive to their career prospects, so they can also use the remote opportunities filter.
TargetJobs shares a rich list of internship programmes with details about their location, stipend, start dates, duration, etc. You will find that their vetted job board shares internships at many popular graduate employers. You can also save opportunities you are interested in exploring and see how many days you have left to apply.
If you want to pursue an internship with a twist, you can explore The Intern Group’s in-person, remote, and digital nomad internship programs. These programs offer career advancement training, access to professional development materials, and the experience of working abroad!
Popular Internship Programmes for students
Shell UK offers Assessed Internships, whereby your mentor and your supervisor agree on which project you will undertake and on your specific development goals, provide you regular feedback, and do mid-term and end-of-internship review for you. This programme can lead to a full-time employment opportunity.
Bank of England internship runs for fixed dates for either six weeks for First Year interns and eight weeks for Penultimate and Postgraduate year interns.
PwC has over 600 paid summer internships available in a variety of business areas and locations. The summer internships are open to students in their penultimate year of a degree or in the final year of study with a one-year postgraduate degree place confirmed.
EY summer internships are 4-week long paid work experience, ideal for students in their penultimate year. The networking opportunities are plenty and you can also throw your hat in the ring to be considered for a full-time role upon graduation.
Goldman Sachs offers Off-Cycle Internships for 3, 6 or 12 months for penultimate-year undergraduate students, final-year undergraduate students or recent graduates. Programmes are available in Asset Management, FICC and Equities, Wealth Management, Engineering, Tax, Controllers and Corporate Treasury, Global Investment Research, Investment Banking, Asset Management, Operations, Risk and Platform Solutions.
Penguin Random House hires nine interns for eight weeks, pays them the London Living Wage and offers financial support to those commuting from outside of London
internship application tips
1. Customise your application. Part of going the extra mile.
2. Don’t wait until the deadline to apply.
3. Regularly check-in with your mentor/supervisor/manager to seek feedback.
4. Network while you intern. You never know where your colleagues, peers, or managers will end up next.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Internships are supposed to be learning experiences, and you cannot grow and learn unless you are curious and inquisitive.
So, here is your action plan to find an internship. Understand what works best for you, structured programmes or more flexible roles, and then explore reputable job boards like Student Circus, Bright Network and others listed above.