What is an internship?

An internship gives you the opportunity to work at a company to learn new skills and gain experience in a particular industry or job role. Internships could last from one week to one year depending on what type of internship it is.

Think of an internship programme like a fixed period of work experience. Internships can be great for:

  • gaining professional experience to include on your CV
  • deciding whether the career you’re interested in would be a good fit for you
  • helping you gain the soft skills you need in a working environment (like communication or writing emails)
  • building a professional network

Remember, never do something just because you think it’ll look good on your CV or application. You should always get value out of the experience and do something you’re genuinely interested in.

Are internships paid?

  • Internships are paid when you are doing the job of a ‘worker’. If this is the case, you’ll be legally entitled to the National Minimum Wage.
  • If what you’re doing is classed as a school work experience placement, work shadowing, volunteering, or a student internship as part of a higher education course, you may not be entitled to pay. Some employers might call these types of opportunities internships.

It’s important you know what you’re signing up for before you start an internship. Make sure you’re getting something out of it, and that you’re being paid fairly for what you’re doing.

More about employment rights for interns

  • It’s a great way to get professional experience.
  • You can find out if the career you’re interested in would suit you.
  • Internships can look great on CVs, personal statements, or apprenticeship applications.
  • You may not get paid, depending on the type of internship it is.
  • It can be competitive to get an internship with more candidates than places.
  • You need to make sure you’re being fairly paid and treated for the work you’re doing.

What do you do during an internship?

What you do depends on the company and industry. It might include:

  • shadowing someone while they do their job
  • helping out with projects and tasks related to the job
  • networking with other people at the company to understand what they do
  • attending meetings to get a feel for the working environment

Can an internship help me get a job?

Internships can look great on your CV. They can help show that you’re passionate about the industry and have gone the extra mile to demonstrate that. They can also give you something to talk about in job interviews or assessment centres.

However, it completely depends on the job you’re applying for. For example, if you’re going into a retail apprenticeship, a part-time job in a shop may be able to demonstrate those skills better. Or if you’re going for a job at a charity, volunteering may be something that shows your skillset.

Think about the skills you’re going to need for the job and how you can best get experience that demonstrates them. Read more on identifying your transferrable skills.

Where to find internships

To find an internship, you can:

  • search on Gov.UK or other careers websites
  • approach companies directly if you’re interested in them specifically
  • use social media channels like LinkedIn to find opportunities