How To Get An Internship In The UK (With Benefits And FAQs)

Updated 22 August 2023

Internships allow students and recent graduates to gain practical experience in their respective fields. The United Kingdom (UK) provides numerous internship opportunities for you to develop your skills and start your career. Learning about the types of available internships, how to find one and the visa requirements can be beneficial if an internship in the UK interests you. In this article, we discuss the options and benefits of internships, explain where and how to find one and answer some frequently asked questions (FAQs).

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are associated with Indeed.

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Options For An Internship In The UK

There are several options for an internship in the UK, including:

  • Summer internships: These are typically short-term internships during the summer months and are a good way to gain experience during university breaks.

  • Graduate internships: These internships are usually for recent college graduates seeking experience in their desired field.

  • Industrial placements: The duration of these internships is usually 12 to 18 months. Certain degree programmes require this internship experience.

  • Virtual internships: These are remote internships that allow interns to work from anywhere.

Related: What Is Apprenticeship Training? (With Types And Benefits)

Levels Of Internship

Here are the four levels of internship:

  • Intermediate: These internships are for new entrants to an industry who want to acquire fundamental skills and knowledge. Intermediate internships typically require 12 to 18 months to complete.

  • Advanced: Advanced internships are specially designed for those with prior industry experience. They usually require 18 to 24 months to complete.

  • Higher: These advanced internships are typically for those who want to acquire more advanced skills and knowledge. They generally last three to four years and can lead to a Level 4 or higher qualification.

  • Degree: This combines practical training with part-time university study. Completing a degree internship can take three to six years, leading to a bachelor's or master's degree.

Related: How To Apply For An Internship (And What To Do After Applying)

Benefits Of Interning In The UK

A robust economy, diverse industries and rich culture make the UK a popular internship location. The country accommodates the headquarters of some of the world's most prestigious corporations. Its diverse industry has numerous innovators and startups providing opportunities for young entrepreneurs. There are multiple advantages to completing an internship there, as it allows students to network with professionals in their industry, which can be beneficial when looking for future job opportunities.

It also gives students a better understanding of the UK work culture, which can be useful for those who wish to move there in the future. Working alongside colleagues from diverse backgrounds and communicating in a foreign language can also improve students' language abilities and cross-cultural competence.

Related: What Are Internships And How Do You Find One?

Top Industries That Hire Interns In The UK

Here are some industries that hire interns in the UK:

  • Finance and banking: The UK is one of the world's financial centres with numerous global banks and financial institutions, making it a popular location for internships in finance and banking. Many companies seek interns with finance skills, including accounting and statistics, from other countries and if you are from a finance background, it can be a great opportunity for you.

  • Technology: With a fast-growing tech sector, the UK is a good location to gain experience in the technology industry. Numerous technology companies offer internships in software development, website designing, data analytics, cybersecurity and other programming-related roles.

  • Creative industries: The UK is also renowned for its flourishing creative sectors, which include advertising, marketing and media. These internships can provide experience in graphic design, content creation and digital marketing.

  • Hospitality and tourism: The hospitality and tourism sector is a major employer with a rich cultural heritage and numerous popular tourist destinations. This industry offers internship opportunities as an event planner, event coordinator or server in hotels, restaurants and other tourism-related businesses.

  • Public sector: There are numerous internship opportunities in policy development, public relations and social services within the public sector, which includes government agencies and non-profit organisations.

Related: 17 Industries That Offer Internships For College Students

How To Find An Internship In The UK?

Consider the following steps to help you improve your chances of getting an internship:

  1. Start your search early. In the UK, internship opportunities are typically posted at the beginning of the year, so it is better to start your search early. This gives you additional time to explore potential opportunities and submit applications before the deadlines.

  2. Use online job portals. Search for internships on various websites and filter your search by location, industry and other criteria to find opportunities that match your interests and qualifications. You can also check the UK government's official website to find opportunities.

  3. Network. Networking is a good way to find internship opportunities. Participate in career fairs and industry events, join organisations related to your field and network with graduates from your university who are working in the UK for advice and referrals.

  4. Research companies. After identifying prospective employers, research their internship programmes and application procedures. This information is often available on their website or you may contact their human resources department.

  5. Create an impressive resume and cover letter. Customise your resume and cover letter for the specific organisation and position to which you are applying. Highlight your skills and experience that align with the internship's requirements.

  6. Apply to multiple internships. Multiple internship applications may increase your chances of securing an offer. Apply for internships that align with your skills and interests.

  7. Be prepared for the visa process. As an international student, depending on the duration and nature of your internship, you may require a specific visa to work in the UK. Research the visa prerequisites and initiate the application procedure as soon as possible.

Related: How To Find Student Internships (With Duties And Benefits)

FAQs About UK Internships

Here are some FAQs and answers that may guide your search for an internship:

What are the eligibility criteria for an internship?

The eligibility requirements for internships vary by company and type. One of the key requirements is having a UK work permit. Some internships are only available to students whereas some internships are open to recent graduates and those with relevant work experience.

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What kind of visa do I require for a UK internship?

As a non-UK resident, you generally require a Tier 2, which is the general visa. This allows you to travel to the UK for employment or to undertake training, such as an internship. A job offer from a UK employer is necessary to apply for a Tier 2 visa. You may require meeting certain visa requirements before applying, including demonstrating that you have the skills and qualifications necessary for the job or internship and sufficient funds to support yourself in the UK.

Related: A Definitive Guide To Work In The UK (With How To Get A Job)

Are interns paid in the UK?

Employers generally pay interns at least the minimum wage. The amount of pay can vary depending on the company, the intern's age and employment status. The employment status of an intern may be classified as a worker, a volunteer or an employee. If an intern is working for an employer under an employment contract, they qualify as an employee and are entitled to national minimum wages. If an intern is counted as a worker, they are also eligible for national minimum wages.

Interns are not entitled to the minimum wage if they count as student interns or voluntary workers. You can check the current national minimum wages in the UK on the government's official website.

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What is the average duration of an internship in the UK?

The duration of an internship can vary based on the company, industry and internship type. A typical internship can last between one and four years, depending on the level of the internship and the intern's rate of advancement. Usually, student internships are shorter, while graduate internships can be longer. The length of voluntary internships may depend on the internship providers' and interns' preferences.

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What can I expect from an internship in the United Kingdom?

Most UK internships provide practical experience and opportunities to develop professional skills. You can also expect to make valuable industry connections that can benefit your career. An internship may lead to a variety of entry-level and advanced career opportunities.

Related: How To Write A Marketing Intern Resume: With Template

Can I complete multiple internships in the UK?

Yes, in the UK you can complete multiple internships. Before accepting multiple internships, consider your schedule and workload carefully. Depending on the duration and nature of each internship, you may also require getting a new visa.

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