Internships are one of the most popular ways students look to gain work experience. They usually take place in the spring and summer vacation periods, or after graduation. Internships can last between four and 12 weeks.
You may also hear the term 'spring weeks' and these are short periods of work experience typically aimed at first and second year students.
How an internship can help you figure out your career
I am still unsure which sector I would like to go into, but it is much clearer since working at GeoSLAM, and I’ve identified tasks that I would like to be part of my future career.
Read about Marina's internship
My experience as a graduate intern at Nottingham Lakeside Arts
It can seem difficult to get into the creative industry.... These internships give you the opportunity to get your foot in the door and gain hands-on experience.
Read Alice's blog post
What are internships and spring weeks?
Internships are short periods of work experience usually taking place in the spring and summer vacation periods, or after graduation. They can last between four and 12 weeks.
Students undertake internships during or after their first year and penultimate year of study. Internships cover a broad range of career areas and are offered by a wide range of companies from small companies and government departments to large multinationals.
Graduate internships are usually offered from June onwards.
Enrol on this free course from OpenLearn to learn more about internships and explore how you can maximise the right opportunities for your future career.
Spring weeks and insight days
Spring weeks and insight days are short periods of work experience typically designed for first and second year students. These opportunities give students an introduction to a job role, working environment and the culture of an organisation. In many cases employers will be using these schemes to ‘talent-spot’ individuals to join them in the future for summer internships, placement years or graduate roles.
Spring weeks are common in industries such as accountancy, banking, consultancy, financial services and technology. Law firms use the term vacation scheme instead.
You can expect to be involved in; short term project work, work shadowing, attending presentations, networking events within the organisation, social activities and more.
Why do an internship? Includes a podcast
Internships offer a number of benefits, including:
- gaining an insight into an area of work and company that interests you
- developing the skills employers are looking for, such as problem-solving
- drawing on your experience when developing your CV or attending an interview
- getting you work-ready to 'hit the ground running'
Employers offer internships to find out what you're really like and many offer graduate jobs to those that have done well on their placement. Top employers say students are likely to be less successful during the recruitment process if they have had no work experience.
Do I need to do an internship?
In this podcast Jo Workman, Employability Education Projects Officer, explores the benefits of an internship and encourages you to think about what you want to gain from it.
Will I get paid?
Paid internships and placements
Most hosts pay, on average, a salary of between £13,000 to £23,000 dependent on the sector and skills of the intern.
If you are classed as a 'worker' while on placement, you should be paid at least the National Minimum Wage (NMW).
Spring weeks and insight days
These may be paid or have expenses covered however this does depend on the length of opportunity and the company.
Unpaid internships and placements
In certain sectors such as advertising and the creative industries there has been a tradition of internships being offered on an unpaid basis. For many students and graduates this can be the only way to get experience of working in their chosen career.
Some see this as discriminatory for those who do not have access to the resources to support themselves during an internship period. The University's policy is shown below.
Your employments rights and eligibility to receive the National Minimum Wage are determined by your employment status as either a worker, volunteer or employee.
University of Nottingham policy statement
Covering paid and unpaid internships
Employment rights and pay for interns
National Minimum Wage: work experience and internships
Are there internships exclusive to Nottingham students and graduates?
When and where do I look for vacancies?
If you want to undertake an internship at the end of your penultimate year of study (or third year if you are on a four-year course), then you need to start researching your options and applying at the beginning of that year.
To save you time, we've put together a list of vacancy sources to get you started.
Go to our list of vacancy sources