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All You Need to Know About Internships in 2020 (FAQ-style)

Apprenticeships and internships

An excellent way to ensure that you stand out in a competitive and crowded jobs market, internships give you a taster of what your dream job could involve, and help you get your foot through the door of some notable companies. Here’s our guide on how to get an internship and what to expect once you’ve started work.

💡 Jump straight to the list of highest paying internships

What is the difference between training and internship?

Training usually comes in the form of an apprenticeship, which gives formal training in a profession, alongside paid hours, to culminate in a recognised qualification. An internship can be paid or voluntary and gives an insight into what an industry is like, from an employee’s perspective. No training or recognised qualification comes with it. Internships are always shorter as well.

💡 Explore available trainee jobs and internship vacancies

Are internships worth it?

If you want to enter a competitive field, then definitely. Graduates are finding it increasingly tough to secure the jobs they want, so anything that can demonstrate a genuine interest is worth it, even if it is unpaid.

What does an intern do?

The aim of an internship is to gain insight, so shadowing an employee is common, as is doing general admin work. There’s an outdated notion that interns just make the tea, and while there might be some kettle-management, other non-specialist duties should be expected, too!

What interns should not do?

Rest on their laurels! If you want to get noticed, be proactive, keen and helpful. There’s no place for people who sit in the corner like a wallflower, saying nothing and hoping to get away with not being involved. Ask for feedback and extra jobs, but don’t do anything you haven’t been asked to. There’s a difference between proactive and unqualified.

Who qualifies for internship?

Basically, anybody. Students are eligible to apply, with many completing a full-time internship in the summer holidays, but older applicants are welcome as well. There are no formal qualification requirements.

💡 Read more: All you need to know about apprenticeships

Are internships for students only?

No. They are for anybody that wants to get a feel for a potential new industry, but it’s worth remembering that the general consensus is that they are geared towards students.

What is the age limit for an internship?

There isn’t one. Most internships are taken by students and since you can enrol for further education at any time, there is no ceiling here.

When should you get your first internship?

As early as possible, so that you have time for another. If, worst-case scenario, you don’t enjoy working in the company you thought you were destined for, you need options. Try to secure your internship in your first year of study, so you have time for another in year two.

When is the best time to do an internship?

Timing is everything. There’s little point in waiting until you are about to graduate to start looking for relevant internships, as all the good ones will be snapped up, along with the graduate job positions. Your best bet is to start looking during your first year of study, so you can complete an internship in the summer holidays. If you’re lucky, you might be able to get a part-time role in your next year and come graduation, you might have a firm job offer.

When should you apply for an internship?

As soon as you find a suitable one. Don’t wait for the deadline to loom: get your application in, as just like with apprenticeships, some companies close applications early if they find the right candidate.

What documents do I need for internship?

Every company is different, so what they want in terms of documents will also be individual. You should have an up-to-date and tailored CV, a properly addressed and relevant cover letter, any academic results and references ready to go though. You might be asked to write an essay as part of your application, too.

Do you get paid to be an intern?

If you are considered an employee of the company, legally you are entitled to minimum wage. Internships can be either paid or voluntary, but the latter are going out of fashion, as some people see them as exploitative. Paid internships, especially those offering good wages, are in high demand and command the most competition.

How do I get my first internship?

If you want to know how to find internships, the first trick is to perfect your application process, searching for positions regularly and applying. There’s no magic formula to internship success – you just have to work hard and hope that you are what a company is looking for.

Highest paying internships

We’ve looked at the salaries and availability of the most popular internships in the UK and weren’t surprised by the data we’ve discovered: the most well paid internships are all to do with machine learning, engineering and finance; the worst paid internships are in hospitality.

Popular internshipsVacancies (Mar 2020)Avg. salary
Machine Learning Internships142£34,198
Software Engineering Internships224£32,015
Finance Internships256£28,313
Summer Internships370£26,860
Data Science Internships93£25,508
Project Management Internships467£25,451
Law & Legal Internships415£23,146
Investment Banking Internship44£21,734
Journalism Internships12£21,709
Accounting Internships330£20,586
Property Internships299£20,381
Civil Engineering Internships76£20,178
Fashion Internships23£20,130
HR Internships214£19,952
Marketing Internships552£19,947
Graphic Design Internships33£19,775
Content & Writing Internships898£19,347
Engineering Internships1,341£18,836
IT Internships610£18,563
Psychology Internships624£18,424
Teaching Internships614£18,157
Sales Internships178£17,602
Business Administration Internships383£17,401
Recruitment Internships92£17,384
Chef Internships642£12,440

Companies that have most internships available at any given time

Although large companies such as Google and Amazon seem to offer a huge number of internships, there are other companies opening up viable opportunities as well in more targeted areas. They include:

  • Airbus – A large company in the aviation sector, with multiple disciplines to be explored.
  • Greene King – A recognised name in the hospitality trade with more than just pub management roles to fill.
  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car – A market leader in vehicle hire and an eye for developing new talent.
  • Pearson – Experts in business education and marketing.
  • General Electric – All things aviation, power, healthcare and renewable energy.

Companies that offer summer internships

Summer-specific internships are highly sought after, but the following regularly advertise vacancies:

  • Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Summer internships are available and there are 450 branches, nationwide, to apply to.
  • Citi – A financial services operation. Citi currently has more than 100 summer intern vacancies.
  • Enterprise Holdings – Parent company to Enterprise Rent-A-Car with summer internships available each year.
  • PwC – An audit and tax services company that likes to support young people entering the job market. There are over 30 placements currently advertised.
  • EY – Running from 6 July to 14 August 2020, this year’s summer internship opportunities are open for this high-level business facilitator.
  • BAE Systems – Summer applications are now open for a variety of engineering and cyber security roles.
  • Genisys Enterprise – IT and software development experts that seek to employ summer interns through a subsidiary, Genisys Enterprise, each year.

💡 Explore what other summer internships are available now

How do I get my first internship with no experience?

Internships are all about gaining experience, so it shouldn’t be too much of a stumbling block that you have none to begin with. Attending some job fairs and seeing a careers advisor can help, and don’t be afraid to call in some favours, if you know people that have an ‘in’ somewhere you like the look of.

What questions are asked in an internship interview?

Much like a job interview, you’ll be asked about your suitability for the role, why you want to work for the particular company you are at and what you think you could bring to the team. You’ll be expected to sell yourself and to know more than just standard information about the company and industry. You might also be asked about your future ambitions, so make sure you have a plan.

How should I dress for an internship interview?

You’ll need to dress as though you are attending a formal interview for a job, because you are. Try to get a feel for the company and its dress code before you go so you can tailor things a little. You don’t want to turn up in a suit if the staff all wear jeans, but something smart casual would work well and demonstrate that you know about the culture already.

Can I get an internship without a degree?

Yes, and most people do, because they complete their internships while still at university. Once you have a degree, you will most likely be wanting to find a permanent graduate role.

How long should you intern for?

Most internships last between one and three months. Anything less and you won’t get a feel for the company and anything more would be difficult to navigate around full-time studying.

Is internship a full-time job?

It can be, if completed in between university terms. Many internships are offered on a full-time basis, in the summer holidays, but there are part-time options as well, which undergraduates can fit in with their course timetables.

How many hours do interns work?

Full-time internships will require you to work a full 40 hours a week. Part-time opportunities will be calculated individually.

What can you get out of an internship?

Connections, valuable experience, a foot in the door of a company you aspire to work for, skills, and in some cases, wages. Internships are as valuable as you make them, but you have to put in effort to get the benefit.

Do I need an internship to get a job?

This is not a yes-or-no question. If you are looking to enter a crowded industry and want to do anything possible to try and stand out, then an internship is a savvy move, but not the only way to secure a job. So, necessary? No. Helpful? Potentially, yes.

Is it harder to get an internship than a job?

Realistically, they are comparable. If you are looking for an opportunity in a fashionable industry and a coveted company, you’ll find it tough to get either an internship or a full-time job. It’s good practice to think of an internship as a proper job, so you take the application process seriously.

Do internships turn into jobs?

Not always, but they certainly won’t hurt your chances of being taken on. If you fit into the culture well, grasp the complexities of the job and industry and prove yourself to be reliable, a company might seek to make you an offer once you have finished studying. There is no guarantee, though!

💡 Read more: 10 tips to get your first job after graduation

How do you ask for a job after an internship?

Planning ahead is key. Conduct yourself well throughout your appointment, asking relevant questions and making yourself useful and when your internships is coming to an end, ask to be kept on.

💡 Read more: How to ask for a raise (because asking for a job after an internship can definitely feel like asking for a raise)

Can you be fired as an intern?

Yes. You will be expected to conduct yourself in line with the company standards and failure to do so could result in you being fired. If you aren’t a good fit and show no aptitude for the work, you should expect some less-than-favourable feedback, too.

Can you intern at two places?

As long as you can conduct yourself properly during both and your studies don’t suffer, there is no harm in securing two internships.

Is it OK to quit an internship?

You can quit, but make sure you really want to. In the scheme of things, a three-month position is not very long and being able to see it out is far more beneficial. If, on the other hand, it is causing you too much stress or you’ve become aware that you definitely do not want to work in a particular industry, having the courage to leave and transparency to own up to why is no bad thing.


Whatever your future career holds, testing the water with an internship will not be waste of time and with so many varied opportunities to choose from, you should be able to find something you enjoy. And don’t forget to check how much your degree is worth with our Value My Degree tool.