Debut works closely with leading UK employers across all industries that run graduate internships. With Debut, we’ll guide you through everything you need to know about graduate internships, the top opportunities available now, and how you can land a full-time job.

What is a Graduate Internship?

Graduate internships are a short-term period of work or work experience which will often lead to a full-time role within the organisation, depending on how much you impress your potential employers during this period.

The specifics of an internship vary from one company to another, but you’ll usually undergo some level of supervised training on the job.

Ideally, your internship will be fairly aligned with your degree studies and serves as a stepping stone as you look to take what you’ve learnt from your course and apply it in a real workplace.

The roles that you’ll undertake on an internship can be fairly varied as they’re designed to give you a general overview of the business and the industry to try and discover which is best for you.

Technically, any business can offer an internship, but you’re most likely to find them in industries such as finance, banking, management, engineering and law.

Internships are a key part of the hiring strategies of large companies and they can be extremely beneficial to students, even if there isn’t a guarantee of full-time work at the end of it.

What are the Different Types of Internships?

If you’re looking to apply for an internship, you’ll probably know what there are a couple of different kinds out there.

Each one is suited to different types of students and careers, so it’s important that you’re aware of them all so that you can figure out which one is right for you and your career path.

Here are some of the main types of internship that you’ll come across.

Seasonal Internships

A seasonal internship usually runs for about eight to twelve weeks and can be either part-time or full-time, usually running throughout the summer.

Summer is by far the most popular time for these types of internships as they don’t interrupt your university studies.

While these are relatively short-term experiences, they can still be very beneficial and will give you a good insight into what it’s like to work in a particular industry, and even within a couple of months, you’ll still have time to get into the swing of things and integrate with the team, as well as picking up valuable skills and experience during your time there.

While your university might help you with organising an internship (you might even have to complete one as part of your studies), if they don’t you should still think about looking into completing one for your own personal career development.

Six-Month Internships

As the name implies, a six-month internship takes place over six months. The great benefit here is that it allows you more time to make an impression on your potential employers, which in turn, will increase your chances of landing a job at the end of the process.

Obviously, it’s harder to make the time for a six-month internship if you’ve got other commitments, but if you can, then the rewards are there.

If you do take up a six-month internship, then you need to make sure to grab the opportunity with both hands and be ready to put in the work to make it a success, which means being willing to take on extra projects and work where possible.

Internships Abroad

If you’ve got a burning desire to see the world, but also want to make sure that you’re working to get your career on the right track, then taking an internship abroad could be the perfect solution for you.

Not only does interning abroad open you up to some of the biggest and best companies in the world, but it also gives you the opportunity to learn new things, experience a new culture and maybe even learn a language!

Learning about cultural differences in business will definitely stand you in good stead in the future, especially when it comes to doing business with clients and partners in other countries.

If this is something that you’re considering, be sure to have a read of our six things to remember when doing internships abroad as well as some of the best countries to do your internship abroad.

Unpaid Internships

It’s a common concern that many intern roles are unpaid and it’s something of a contentious issue legally as to whether an employer can ask you to work without paying you (you can read more about the government stance on your employment rights as an intern here).

Essentially it all boils down to the work that you’re carrying out. If you’re an unpaid intern, you’ll be limited in the work that you’ll be given, but there’s still a lot to be gained from them.

If you do choose to go into an unpaid internship it’s a good idea to do your research into your rights to ensure that the employer isn’t taking advantage.

For more information on this, you can read our full guide to unpaid internships here or check out this post on the important differences between work experience, internships and volunteering.

Top Graduate Internships

Ready to discover what graduate internships are available? You can start applying straight away to some of the UK’s leading employers.

View all Graduate Internships

Which Sectors Run Graduate Internships?

Graduate internships are available across many different sectors and here are some of the most popular.

  • Banking & Finance – If you fancy working in the financial sector, all of the major banks offer internships, but there are opportunities for finance internships across all sectors. Careers in this sector are usually rewarded with high wages, with a high demand for skilled workers, making them an attractive proposition for graduates.
  • Marketing & Media – This sector is proving increasingly popular with graduates, with a wide variety of roles available at organisations such as the BBC. They’re also very informal when it comes to arranging work experience, so if you can make a few contacts, an internship might be the way to go.
  • HR – Graduates are particularly in demand in the busy human resources departments of some of the world’s largest companies as they seek to adapt to the changing demands of the modern workplace.
  • Consumer & Retail – If you want to work in retail management there are lots of internship opportunities available, where you can build skills such as budget management, overseeing pricing, stock control and managing a team. These are often open to graduates from all degree backgrounds.
  • Automotive & Transport – Whether it’s as part of the country’s ever-growing transport infrastructure, or in automotive manufacturing, graduates are always in demand in the world of transport.
  • Charity & Public Sector – If you want to work for a good cause or to help our communities, there are lots of internships in charities and the public service, although they can be competitive.
  • Education – Education is another incredibly rewarding sector, with lots of routes to explore whether your interest lies in early years, primary or secondary education, teachers are in high demand and you can enter it with most degrees and you may qualify for a bursary too.
  • Energy – Industries such as oil and gas, renewable energy and nuclear power are some of the country’s most innovative and vital sectors, with a wide range of roles available across the spectrum.
  • Engineering & Industrial – This exciting sector is always on the lookout for new graduates. It’s a very varied industry, with jobs ranging from construction work in your local community to working in big industries such as aerospace and aviation.
  • Hospitality – If you want a consumer-facing role in a fast-paced industry, hospitality might be for you. Many hotel and restaurant managers start out as interns or trainees and work their way up through the hospitality industry and while a hospitality or business degree is preferred, they aren’t always essential.
  • Law – The law sector is known for its rewarding salaries and varied career opportunities, but it’s also extremely competitive, so an internship might be your best shot at getting your foot in the door.
  • Pharmaceutical – From research and development to clinical trials, there are all kinds of exciting careers available in the science-focused world of pharmaceuticals.
  • Property & Construction – Natural planners will be right at home in this sector, where you can gain experience as a trainee site manager, project manager, or even in fields such as architecture and sales.

Top Locations for Graduate Internships

Graduate internships are available right around the UK, but most can be found in the country’s major towns and cities.

As you’d probably expect, many of the world’s biggest businesses are based in London, so that’s where you’ll find the most opportunities, but that’s not to say there aren’t plenty wherever you’re based.

For example, in the North West, there are lots of jobs in the major hubs of Manchester and Liverpool, while in the North East, most graduate internships can be found in Newcastle.

In the West Midlands, you’ll find loads of internships in Birmingham, but also in some of the many automotive manufacturers in the wider area, while in the East Midlands, you’ll find opportunities in cities such as Nottingham, Derby and Leicester.

There are also many opportunities to be found in the rest of the UK too, including Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Why Apply for a Graduate Internship?

So, why might you want to apply for a graduate internship? While you shouldn’t view an internship as a guaranteed route into your dream job, it can definitely be a stepping stone in the right direction.

While you definitely won’t be given the responsibilities of a full-time employee in that sector, you’ll be spending time working with professionals in your industry, getting a feel for the job and what it entails, which will give you a better idea if it’s something that you definitely want to pursue for the rest of your life.

Speaking more generally, an internship gives you some real-life workplace experience, which you might be short on if you’ve spent the last few years as a student.

When it comes to applying for your first full-time job, being able to show that you have relevant experience and know-how in your sector will go a long way with an employer and help you to stand out in a crowded field.

You’ll also get to build up some transferable skills which will be valuable no matter what you decide to do next, such as teamwork, organisational skills, time management and communication.

When Do Graduate Internships Open & When Should You Apply?

Graduate recruitment season can be tricky to navigate. If you miss your chance then you may have to wait a while before applications open up again and while this isn’t quite the case with internships as much as it is with graduate schemes, it definitely still something to be wary of.

Seeing as most internships take place in the summer, September to December is generally when companies will go on their biggest recruitment drives when it comes to internships and when they’ll open up their main internship programmes for applications.

No matter what industry you’re applying to, the earlier than you can get your application in, the better, although for smaller companies and those that aren’t quite as competitive don’t necessarily stick to these specific dates.

This all being said, there are always internships that are available throughout the year, so always be on the lookout.

What is a Good Intern Salary?

If you are lucky enough to get paid for your time on an internship, you may be wondering exactly how much you can expect to earn.

Of course, this varies from one employer to another depending on their industry and other factors such as where in the UK you’re doing the internship (for example, those in London will earn more).

The majority of big employers do pay their interns (some that are only a few days to a week long may be ‘expenses only’), be sure to check out our guide to the clues to look out for to work out whether your internship is paid or not.

Will You Get a Job at the End of it?

For both you and your employer an internship is essentially a ‘try before you buy’ period, allowing them to assess whether you’re a good long-term fit for the company and for you to decide whether this company and industry are right for you going forward.

An employer wouldn’t be offering internships if they weren’t looking to employ people at the end of them, but that does not mean that there are any guarantees.

This is why you have to take an internship seriously and really use it as a chance to impress your employer and convince them that it’s in their best interest to keep you on full-time at the end of the period.

The onus is on you to do your best to turn that internship into a full-time role and you can do this by always going that extra mile and seeing where you can help out and take on extra work here and there.

You should also always be seeking feedback from your managers to see how you can improve and trying to build good relationships with people within the company that will stand you in good stead.

But also, you need to make sure to look at the application in the first place so that you know exactly where you stand.

Remember, even if you don’t get the job, internships are still a great experience and a valuable addition to your CV, so make sure that you make the most out of your time with an employer, get stuck in and make sure that you have plenty to discuss in job interviews in the future.

For more tips on how to turn your internship into a full-time job, check out this post.

Also in this Section