Internships are usually short-term positions that offer you a chance to gain valuable work experience in your industry of interest. They are also a good opportunity to make professional connections that can help open doors for your career.
Benefits of internships
- Direct contact with individuals in your field and a great opportunity to ask lots of questions;
- See how real practice and workplaces function;
- Increase your confidence, skills and knowledge;
- Boost your CV – providing vital experience that employers are seeking;
- Rich learning experiences, which may include mentoring from a professional;
- Contacts which may lead to future networking, your first job or a commission.
Searching for internships
Before you start searching for an internship, it’s worth considering what you want out of the experience.
- What type of industry and type of organisation would you like to intern for?
- How long do you want to spend doing an internship?
- What sort of work do you want to do?
- What skills you most want to gain?
With this basic criteria you can then think about the logistics and what’s possible.
- Think about how far you are prepared to travel and where you are willing to go
- Do you need temporary accommodation
- How much time do you have to give to an internship
- How much flexibility would you need
- Will you incur expenses by doing an internship
This is really a process of weighing up how much you are willing to invest for valuable work experience.
Knowing your rights
There are a few key things to look out for when searching for internships. You should consider these basic rights of employment and see if these are indicated in the job description or application:
- Employers should recruit interns openly, in the same way as other employees.
- Employers should give interns as much responsibility and diversity in their work as possible.
- Employers should allow interns to have time off to attend job interviews.
- Interns should have a proper induction.
Employers should allocate someone working in a similar role to supervise interns, mentor them, and conduct a performance review.
On completion of the internship, employers should provide interns with a reference letter.
Employers offering internships should follow UK equal opportunities and employment and health and safety legislation. You should be able to resolve most issues or problems encountered during your internship by discussing them with the company.
Getting paid - know your rights
If you find that an employer expects you to work specified hours or undertake specific duties, then you would legally be classed as a “worker”.
The fair internships animation can inform and educate employers about good practice internships. It can also offer advice to students and graduates about their rights. You can refer to this if you are contacting or negotiating with an employer about an internship. You can also refer to our Internship Policy for further details and useful links.
We encourage students and graduates to only apply for paid internships. This is to make sure you are fairly treated and rewarded for your work, and to help break a culture of unpaid work in the creative industries. Paid internships support you while working and provide a more fulfilling and productive work experience because employers are valuing the intern.
How to succeed in your internship
While you are an intern there are a few things to think about:
- Establish a mentor, someone you can call on for advice either during or after the internship.
- Conduct yourself as an actual employee would do. It is important to be professional at all times.
- Observe, ask questions and learn as much as possible about the workplace.