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Summer Internships

A New York street sign

These are paid (and sometimes, unfortunately, unpaid) summer vacation placements offered to students by companies willing to offer 'work experience'. They are usually very competitive, with selection via application form and interview. Taking a summer internship has enormous benefits. It:

  • allows you to discover whether a certain field of work is as interesting as you thought it was, before you commit to that career path.
  • Shows future employers that you are committed, already have prior experience, and that your internship company thought sufficiently highly of your application that you were selected in the first place.
  • Should pay better than stacking shelves at the local supermarket.
  • May lead to a graduate job offer from your internship company if you perform well. Some companies (albeit mostly in banking) ONLY take on recruits from those who have taken an internship with them previously.

Below are a number of links to companies that provide summer internships. But you may also approach companies direct if you have a specific interest in their field.

Remember that you will have dissertations to complete over the summer holidays between your second and third year at University. You could do a summer placement between first and second year, or between second and third year if you make sure you factor in sufficient time for your dissertation.

Note that some companies offer 'unpaid' internships. You need to think carefully about your views on this. On the one hand, if you can afford to take the opportunity, it can provide excellent experience. On the other hand, what are your views about working for no pay?

The National Council for work experience:

This site lists a number of internships and summer placements.
www.work-experience.org
Note that the link 'graduate job search' includes not only graduate and sandwich-placement opportunities, but also undergraduate summer placements.

A researcher doing lab work

Environmental Change Network (ECN)

One YEAR LONG student placement with the Centre of Ecology and Hydrology (CEH) here at the Lancaster Environment Centre (LEC). The student undertakes environmental monitoring at the Moor House National Nature Reserve, involving field work, lab work and computer work, with a short independent project.

www.ecn.ac.uk/Education/moo

Gatsby Charitable Foundation

This charity provides a week long intensive summer school centred on the field of plant science. Jane Taylor (j.e.taylor@lancaster.ac.uk) and Brian Forde (b.g.forde@lancaster.ac.uk) are the Lancaster University representatives for this scheme.

www.gatsby.org.uk/Plant-Science/Projects/Gatsby-Plant-Science-Summer-School.aspx

Geologists doing fieldwork

British Geological Survey

Each summer BGS provides places for students with an active interest in geology and the earth sciences to undertake fieldwork in areas throughout the UK. Although classed as voluntary workers, individuals are paid a set allowance to cover the costs of their accommodation and/or meals. Placements can be offered for periods of between one and six weeks. Details are sent to universities each January/February [or contact BGS directly for information].

www.bgs.ac.uk/vacancies/opport.htm

The John Innes Centre and Sainsbury Laboratory (Norwich)

Biology-related research and training projects for undergraduates studying any branch of science, finishing their second year of study this summer. 8 week placements (5th July-30th August), free accommodation and '200/week. Deadline for applications: 1st March. For more information about the programme, visit: http://www.jic.ac.uk/summerprogramme/

Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre, East Kilbride.

Typically, on summer placements of between 4 to 8 weeks duration, Interns work in one or more of the SUERC research groups undertaking a specific research project. These Internships are a particularly good opportunity for undergraduate students about to embark on their final year to get some real experience of hands-on research. The most successful Interns have been able to kick-start careers in research through publication of the results of their projects.

See www.gla.ac.uk/departments/suerc/internships/ for more details.Companies matching students with prospective internship employers.

There are a number of companies that specialise in matching students with employers, which you can find by browsing the internet. Just type in 'internships'. For example www.e4s.co.uk/docs/internships.htm.

Be very careful that these companies are providing you with genuine and valuable work placements, rather than providing you with glorified holidays in attractive locations, or your employer with cheap / free labour. They may also charge an administration fee.