Cranfield University Job Prospects
Discover what working in a particular role is like and gain the essential real life experience that is highly sought after by employers
What is an internship?
An internship is a period of work experience, offered by an organisation, usually lasting for a fixed, limited period of time. They are typically undertaken by students and graduates looking to gain relevant skills and experience in a particular field.
Employers frequently use these placements to assess a student’s or graduate’s capability and often recruit employees from their interns rather than advertising their vacancies externally. The Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) Annual Survey 2016 revealed that 36% of graduate intakes were comprised of previous interns, which is up from 31% in 2015. You should therefore apply for an internship which you have a real interest in.
How long does it last?
Internships can last from a few weeks during the summer holidays to a year depending on the sector and employer. Student internships tend to be shorter in length than graduate internships. In the case of medical training, for example, you might be labelled as an ‘intern’ until you progress to the next professional level.
Usually internships are not accredited by universities as part of courses but may be accredited or formally acknowledged by professional training organisations. For example, experience gained on an accountancy internship may count towards The ACCA Qualification, which is required to become a qualified accountant.
Are internships paid?
You should receive at least the National Minimum Wage in the UK if you’re performing the role of a worker. The vast majority of interns are classed as workers and you’re usually only not a worker if you’re shadowing someone. The most telling factors of a worker are set hours, duties or responsibilities. However, you should consider the arrangement as a whole in determining your right to pay – work experience should be for your benefit, not the employer’s. If you’re part of the commercial operation of a business, you’re likely to be entitled to payment.
However there are exemptions:
- a sandwich placement that is part of a higher education course
- work shadowing
- working for a registered charity
- undertaking work experience as part of ‘Back to Work’, or similar schemes with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
Where can I find an internship in the UK?
To find internships in the UK:
- search for internships on this site
- Graduate Talent Pool – a government website designed to help new and recent graduates find internships across the public, private and third sectors
- speak to your careers service
- communicate with potential employers via social media such as Twitter and LinkedIn
- try your own network of family and friends to see what connections they have
- contact companies speculatively.
For international internships, search:
- AIESEC UK – facilitates international student exchanges through paid traineeships and other schemes.
- Absolute Internship – matches university students and graduates with international work experience in elite cities around the world.
- City Internships – leading provider of structured internship programmes in the world’s greatest cities. Placements are offered across all sectors including banking, consulting, law, marketing and technology.
- CRCC Asia – Internships – leading provider of internships with prominent Chinese and multinational companies in Beijing. Positions in law, finance, business, marketing and more.
- i-to-i – spend up to five months teaching in the best schools in countries such as China, Thailand and Vietnam.
- ImmerQi – provides international internships in more than 200 companies in three major Chinese cities: Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.
- Intern jobs – a global database of internships and entry-level positions for students, recent graduates and career changers.
- The Intern Group – leading provider of international graduate internship programmes in New York, Hong Kong, Shanghai, Latin America, Madrid, Berlin, Dublin and Australia.