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Internships. David Henderson Durham University Careers Advisory Service. Content. What is an Internship? Why should I consider an Internship? Getting Started! Where are Internships advertised? How do I apply? What are the alternatives to an Internship? .

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David Henderson

Durham University Careers Advisory Service

  • What is an Internship?
  • Why should I consider an Internship?
  • Getting Started!
  • Where are Internships advertised?
  • How do I apply?
  • What are the alternatives to an Internship?
what is an internship

What is an Internship?

a structured programme of work experience

often salaried but not always!

normally lasting between four and twelve weeks

usually offered by companies which take on large numbers of graduates (e.g. retailers, investment banks, accountants, professional services, IT firms…)

what is an internship4

What is an Internship?

employers offer internships as part of their overall graduate recruitment strategy.

primarily for penultimate year students

the application process is normally the same as for a graduate position and they are highly competitive.

generally advertised from November until March although some have closing dates as early as November/December.

what is an internship5
What is an Internship?

Opportunities exist in a range of job roles and sectors:






Hospitality, Leisure & Tourism

Scientific Research & Development

Political, Social & Economic Research







Public Sector

who offers internships
Who offers Internships?
  • usually offered by companies which take on large numbers of graduates (e.g. retailers, investment banks, accountants, professional services, management consultants, IT firms, FMCG, Pharmaceutical, Engineering etc)
  • Law Firms (Vacation Schemes)
  • Internships also available in other sectors of employment but not always salaried (e.g. Media organisations, NGOs, Marketing & Advertising Agencies, Publishers)
  • It is possible to have an internship with an SME
who offers internships7
Who offers Internships?

Accenture – Consultancy

BAE Systems – Engineering

Centrica – Utility

Enterprise Rent-A-Car – Car rental company

IBM – IT & Consultancy

Lidl – Retail

Marks & Spencers – Retail

Matchtech – Recruitment

Nestle – Food & Beverage

PWC – Professional Services

Proctor & Gamble – Household & Personal Goods

JP Morgan – Investment Banking

what will i do
What will I do?
  • typically, the employer identifies a project similar to the sort of work you would do if you joined as a graduate trainee
  • deliver presentations to clients/senior management
  • work alongside professionals/graduate trainees
why should i consider an internship
Why Should I consider an Internship?
  • A degree is not enough
  • Overcrowded graduate job market – need to stand out
  • Evidence of transferable skills
  • Specific career experience
  • Commercial experience
why should i consider an internship10
Why Should I consider an Internship?
  • Insight/Career research
  • Opportunity to do something different
  • References
  • Networking/Contacts
  • Confidence – Personal Development & Self Awareness
  • Route to a graduate job
  • Necessary…Banking?
where to start
Where to start?
  • What do I want to get out of it?

e.g. develop particular skills/make a contribution/enhance graduate prospects/specific career experience

  • Career focus?
  • Sector Focus? e.g. Voluntary sector, Public sector, Finance, Publishing etc
  • Employer Focus?
  • Opportunity Focus?
where are internships advertised
Where are Internships advertised?
  • Opportunities are advertised on Employer websites – use employer directories (e.g. Times 100/Best Companies/Yellow Pages) or professional organisations to identify companies that reflect your career interests
  • Careers Advisory Service website


  • Graduate employment websites (finance, law, science, business focus)

( /

  • Career Fairs
  • Networking/Contacts
  • Direct Approach- speculative application!
how do i apply
How do I apply?

Normally online application form but you also may be asked to upload your CV

  • Competency based questions
  • Company specific questions
  • Career specific questions

CV & Covering letter

  • 1 or 2 page CV
  • Covering letter should clearly address your interest in the internship (career) and the organisation as well as your suitability
how do i apply14
How do I apply?

Key points!

  • Research is the key to success:too easy to rephrase company literature (attend presentations, speak to alumni, read journals/financial press)
  • Find out as much as you can about the nature of the internship and the career opportunities available
  • When answering competency questions be as analytical as possible: avoid narrative, briefly outline situation but focus on what you did (how you did it) and the outcome of your action
  • Do not refer to we, particularly in the context of team questions: they want to know specifically about your contribution
  • Draw upon a range of experiences
  • Answer the question fully (particularly multi-faceted questions)
  • Get someone else to read through your application form or covering letter: support from the Careers Advisory Service!
how do i apply15
How do I apply?
  • Why are you interested in an internship with...?
  • What do you expect to do as an Intern?
  • Why are you interested in a career in audit/marketing/HR/sales...?
  • What is your greatest achievement and why?
  • When have you been part of a succesful team? What was your role and what contribution did you make?
  • What has been your most difficult decision? How did you arrive at a decision?
what happens next
What happens next?

Selection process echoes that of

graduate recruitment:

  • Online assessment (numerical/verbal reasoning test)
  • Telephone interview
  • First round interview
  • Assessment Centre (group exercise, case studies, psychometric tests)
  • Interview(s) – Competency, technical/commercial
what are the alternatives to internships
What are the alternatives to Internships?

Internships are highly competitive but they are not

the only means by which to obtain highly valuable


  • Work Experience
  • Work Shadowing/Work Tasters
  • Voluntary Work
  • Part-time and Casual Work
  • Working Holidays
work experience
Work Experience
  • Often unpaid but not always
  • Expenses at least usually covered
  • Length of opportunity dependent on employer
  • Opportunity to develop sector specific experience
  • Opportunity to develop transferable skills
  • Refer to careers/recruitment section of employer websites
  • Speculative applications most common means of arranging work experience
work experience19
Work Experience
  • Structured work experience schemes

e.g. BBC, Civil Service

  • Advertised work experience opportunities

e.g. CAS website

  • Professional Bodies/Sector specific recruitment sites

e.g. Refer to Prospects website (

  • Self-arranged opportunities

e.g. work shadowing/work placements

work experience20
Work Experience
  • Politics /

  • Advertising (list of companies offering work experience)

  • Science (search for summer opportunities)

  • Health Care

NHS Local Champions

  • Environment

  • General Opportunities

Refer to CAS website

work experience21

Work Experience

CAS contacts – Alumni & Local Employers

Networking – Employer Presentations/Career Fairs/Skills Sessions

Personal/Family contacts

internships work experience
Internships/Work Experience
other types of work experience

Other Types of Work Experience

Salaried Opportunities:

Summer Programmes - STEP

Casual Work/Agency Work

Work & Travel



Shell Technology Enterprise Programme

UK-wide programme offering undergraduates project-based work experience in SMEs

Penultimate year students

Available throughout the UK

8 week paid project (£190 per week) involving a variety of work areas

Apply via

agency work casual work

Agency Work/Casual Work

Temporary paid work experience/employment

Local jobs papers/Student Job Shops/Speculative

Usually need prior work experience

Contact recruitment agencies

Internet job sites

e.g. - general - specific

Working in a bar, factory or a shop a useful source of evidence when documenting transferable skills!

part time casual employment
Part-time/Casual Employment
paid work international
Paid Work – International
  • Schemes facilitating overseas employment e.g. BUNAC
  • Teaching e.g. British Council
  • Holiday employment e.g. Tourism Industry, Agriculture, Au Pair
  • Agencies e.g.
  • Summer Camps e.g. Camp America
working holidays working abroad
Working Holidays/Working Abroad
  • /


Further source of relevant work experience but also opportunity to undertake specific role and/or work in a particular capacity

Develop transferable skills and personal qualities

Contribution to the welfare and development of others

Make a tangible difference

Work at your pace/convenience

  • Volunteering Organisations

e.g. CSV, SCA, Volunteer England

  • Specific Charities

refer to Voluntary Agencies Directory

  • Employers/Organisations that rely on voluntary support

e.g. Health Trusts, Local Authorities

  • Experience crucial if considering opportunities in the not for profit sector
  • Support employment/postgraduate study prospects e.g. Health sector, Teaching, Public Sector, Social Care etc

Vast range of opportunities…

  • Youth & Community work

e.g. Local Authority

  • Environment/Conservation

e.g. National Trust/Wildlife Trust

  • Health Sector

e.g. Care Homes, Charities (Cancer Research, Mind)

Heritage/Museum Work

e.g. English Heritage – Education Volunteers

  • (Student Community Action)
volunteering internationally
Volunteering - Internationally

GAP year projects:

  • Travellers Worldwide, Greenforce, Raleigh International
  • Combination of travel & project based activities
  • Wide variety of opportunities e.g. conservation, community work, teaching, journalism
  • Financial implications – 10 weeks Raleigh International £2995
volunteering internationally34
Volunteering – Internationally

Volunteer Organisations/NGOs

  • Amnesty International, Red Cross, Merlin, WWF
  • Project/cause specific
  • Relevant skills and experience but not always

e.g. Development in Action recruiting for a 2 month voluntary placement in India. No specific experience required.

  • Domestic opportunities with NGOs

e.g. research internships, administration, information management

volunteering internationally35
Volunteering – Internationally
final thoughts
Final thoughts…

Once you have decided on the manner in which you would like

to make the most of your vacations:

  • Identify relevant employers/organisations/public bodies etc (use resources within CAS e.g. Summer Jobs Britain, check employer/organisation/professional body websites, use generic websites identified in this talk, CAS website)
  • Be aware of early closing dates
  • Research opportunities and application process (online, CV & Covering Letter etc)
  • Speculative approach – CV, Friends & Family, Networking
  • Access support available through CAS
final thoughts37
Final thoughts…
  • Document your activities
  • Relate activities to transferable skills demonstrated e.g. teamwork, problem solving, communication, initiative etc
  • Reflection – what motivated/excited you. Learning outcomes.
  • Marketing your experience to employers
and don t forget
…and don’t forget
  • Any experience, no matter how small, is useful
  • It is okay to mix and match your experiences e.g. volunteering and work tasters
  • And is okay to have fun during your summer too!

Happy Holidays!

how can cas help
How Can CAS Help

Some sources of information

AGCAS publications – ‘Working Abroad’, ‘Voluntary Sector’

NCVO – Voluntary Agencies Directory

Charities Digest

International Development Directory

International Directory of Voluntary Work, Victoria Pybus

Working in Development

Teaching English Abroad

Working Your Way Around the World

Summer Jobs Britain

Summer Jobs Abroad

World Wide Volunteering database

Vacancy Service/Employer files & contacts

Job Shop

Opportunities Fair - June

Insight Into Management 2008

how can cas help40
How Can CAS Help

Advice & Guidance


Careers information

Employer information

Information on work & study abroad

Information on postgraduate study

Information and advice on job search

Employer presentations

Employer fairs

Computer aided help – Prospects Planner

Careers talks/workshops

Careers Advisory Service

University of Durham

49 New Elvet



Tel: 0191 334 1430

DUO Careers Tab

Monday to Friday

10am – 5pm (term time)

10am – 1pm and 2.15pm – 5pm (vacations)