Placements & Internships
The benefits to completing an internship or placement year are endless. They provide invaluable insights into roles and industries, help you to gain transferable skills and make job applications stand out to employers.
Placements & Internships Explained
Tab Content: What are they?
'Placement' and 'internship' are often used interchangeably.
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 to assess a student's or graduate's capability and often recruit employees from their interns rather than advertising their vacancies externally. You should therefore apply for an internship which you have a real interest in.
A placement is usually used to describe longer internships (usually a year), and is commonly used to describe the year in industry in some degrees.
On some courses, work placements are compulsory in order to get your degree, while on others you can opt to do a placement as one of your modules. If this is the case you may find that the organisation is simply allocated to you.
If this isn't the case then you should arrange your own placement. Your first port of call should be your university careers service as they will have a huge database of employer and alumni contacts. Careers advisers will also be on hand to help with applications. Take advantage of work experience fairs to make contact with employers and search for suitable placements online. You can also target employers speculatively to find and arrange work placements.
If you're arranging your own work placement, ask for the terms to be agreed in writing beforehand as work placements are not covered by employment legislation. If you're in any doubt about the organisation or the activities, you should seek further advice from your careers service.
Tab Content: How long do they 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.
Tab Content: 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 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 (e.g. teaching or nursing placements)
- 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)
Tab Content: Find UK Internships
To find internships in the UK:
- Search for internships on the sites below.
- Make an appointment with the Careers Service to find out more.
- 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.
Tab Content: Find International Internships
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
A leading provider of global internships in China, Japan, Vietnam and the UK. They'll find your perfect internship, be it in law, finance, business or marketing. Let them know the country and sectors you wish to work in and they'll do the rest.
- Go Abroad China
Partnered with more than 600 established international and SME businesses, Go Abroad China offers 2,000 internship opportunities across a range of sectors.
Provides international internships in more than 200 companies in three major Chinese cities - Beijing, Shanghai and Chengdu.
- Intern jobs
Global database of internships and entry-level positions for students, recent graduates and career changers.
- Placement Year International
Provides paid business, hospitality, sports and leisure and teaching work placements for students and recent graduates.
- Premier TEFL
Spend two to six months as a first-time teacher in incredible locations such as Chile, Spain and Thailand.
- The Intern Group
Seading provider of international internship programmes in the USA, Canada, Europe, Asia, Australia and Latin America.
A number of organisations throughout the UK source internship opportunities at a local level for recent graduates. Read our guide to regional internships for more information.
Though UNITEplus and the EU European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), we offer paid 140 hour internships in SMEs (small-medium enterprises) located across Lancashire to students and graduates within their first year.
Search for vacancies on the ERS website and look for the UNITEplus / ERDF logo.
Placements & Internships in your Faculty
Lancaster offers a range of degree schemes that offer a placement year - just search for courses with 'Placement Year' or 'Industry' in the title.
Click on the links below to find out more about working as part of your degree.