Internships with big graduate recruiters
If you’re hoping to get a place on a graduate scheme with a big employer, getting an internship is one of the best ways to improve your chances.
Internships introduction | Finding an internship | The advantages of internships | Getting onto an internship | Industrial placements | Banking spring and summer insight programmes | Work experience in law | Work experience before applying | What if you miss out on an internship? | Selection of employers |
Big graduate employers often offer structured internships and recruit students who perform well directly onto their graduate programmes. These internships typically run over the summer and are 8 to 10 weeks long. If you’re hoping to get a place on a graduate scheme with a big employer when you leave university, getting an internship is one of the best ways to improve your chances and should be a priority for you.
The structure of a large company’s internship programmes often mirrors the structure of its graduate training schemes. For example, a big engineering employer may run finance, IT and management internships as well as an engineering internship. It may also offer year-long industrial placements for students on engineering or business-related degrees who are looking to spend a year in industry as part of a sandwich degree.
You’re much more likely to succeed in your internship application and get the most out of your placement if you’ve given some thought both to the kind of work you want to do and the type of employer you are interested in.
Internships are a particularly well-established route to graduate recruitment in investment banking, management consulting, accountancy, finance and IT. You may find it difficult to get into these professions without an internship or similar extensive work experience under your belt. Internships are also available in a range of other career areas, such as marketing and property.
Big employers often recruit for internship and graduate programmes at the same time and may use similar processes. Applying for internships can help you gear up for graduate job applications and give you experience of application forms, phone interviews and assessment centres. The deadlines for many internship programmes fall in January or February, but some are as early as October and new opportunities may appear later in the year.
The best way to make sure you don’t miss out on applying for any internship schemes that are relevant to your career interests is to sign up for updates from targetjobs.co.uk and complete your profile as fully as possible, so we can tailor the information we flag up to you. We also publish regular reminders listing deadlines that are coming up the following week.
Internships can lead directly into a place on a graduate training scheme and give you a big leg up in your graduate job hunt. A 2014 survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters, which represents many of the big graduate recruiters, found that just under a third of its members recruited up to 20% of their graduate intake from internships.
Internships are an opportunity for you to find out what it is like working for the employer and to experience the type of career that interests you. Many internships involve rotations, so you can find out about different roles within the department and the organisation as a whole, and identify which path you wish to pursue. Internships with big graduate recruiters are often well paid, so there can be a financial reward too.
An internship will develop your skills and give you concrete examples of your competencies that you can use in your graduate job applications. Even if you decide that the kind of work you do during your internship is ultimately not for you, the experience will help you to clarify what you want out of professional life, giving you a much better chance of finding fulfilment in your chosen career. It’s much better to change direction at this stage than to have a change of heart once you’ve actually started work.
Many large graduate employers will ask you to fill in an online application form for an internship, similar to the form used for a graduate scheme, and you may also likely to be asked to upload a CV. If you do submit a CV, make sure you tailor it for each application. Check out the TARGETjobs sample CV templates and our work experience application advice for inspiration. You may also be asked to take some psychometric tests, either online or at an internship assessment centre.
If you have a telephone interview, be prepared to answer questions about why you are interested in the industry and the employer and what you hope to gain from the internship. You could also be asked some competency-based questions, which invite you to give examples of times when you’ve demonstrated qualities that the employer is seeking, such as communication skills or teamwork. Use our telephone interview tips and skills and competencies advice to help you prepare.
If you are invited to an assessment centre, expect to be asked to take part in a series of exercises that will assess whether you have the skills and attitude the employer is looking for. These could include an office exercise where you are asked to prioritise a flow of incoming tasks, an analysis and report-writing exercise where you are given information and asked to write a report on it, and a simulated meeting. You’ll find tips on how to handle a range of typical activities in our assessment centre advice.
Many engineering employers offer year-long industrial placements to fit in with sandwich degrees. These are typically designed to give students experience of technical roles. Some IT employers also offer industrial placements or years in industry, again, usually in technical areas such as software engineering. Year-long industrial placements for students on sandwich courses are also available from leading employers in areas such as construction, civil engineering, quantity surveying and project management.
If your degree course includes a sandwich year, it is very important to apply for your industrial placement in good time. Make sure you keep an eye on our list of opportunities with up-and-coming deadlines.
- Find out more about internships and industrial placements in IT
- Find out more about internships and industrial placements in civil engineering, construction and quantity surveying
- Find out more about engineering employers that offer internships and industrial placements
Some employers, particularly in banking, run short work experience schemes aimed at first years, typically referred to as insight programmes. These may take place in the spring or summer holidays and can last for up to a week. Spring and summer insight weeks give you a chance to find out more about the sector and the different business lines within the organisation, and put you in a good position to apply for an internship. Deadlines for spring weeks are likely to fall sometime around January, but could be even earlier. If you are interested in a career with a leading banking employer, your best chance of success is to be ready to take action from early in your first year.
If you wish to become a solicitor, you’ll need to look into applying for a vacation scheme, whereas if you’ve set your sights on a career as a barrister, you should find out about mini-pupillages. Our law careers advice includes plenty of tips on gaining work experience.
Most employers will not expect you to have work experience in the relevant industry at this stage, but if you do, so much the better. You should make the most of any work experience you have in your application and show how you have developed your skills, whether this is through extracurricular activities at university or paid work such as a part-time retail job.
Some big employers accept internship applications from graduates. You may also be able to make arrangements for other kinds of work experience, such as work shadowing or attending open days. Many small and medium-sized enterprises also arrange placements and these can offer good opportunities for early responsibility, plus insights into working life in a different kind of organisation.
More advice to help you get an internship
- Internship and work experience advice
- Application and CV advice
- CV templates for top graduate professions
- What to expect from psychometric tests
- Interview techniques and tips
- Assessment centre advice
- Skills and competencies employers seek
- Check out our employer hubs for tips on how to impress the employers that interest you
- Find out more about the UK 300 list of the UK's most popular graduate employers
Accountancy and financial management and financial services and insurance graduate schemes and programmes
- FactSet consulting intern summer internship programme 14 November
- London Stock Exchange Group internship programme 20 December
Investment banking and investment internship schemes and programmes
- Jefferies International Limited investment banking 2015 summer intern programme 31 October
- M&G Investments internship scheme 9 November
- Aberdeen Asset Management summer internship 16 November
- Lazard summer financial advisory analyst internship programme 17 November
- Morgan Stanley summer analyst programme 29 November (UK 300 employer)
- Macquarie Group risk management group: market risk internship programme 1 December
- Bank of America Merrill Lynch 2015 summer analyst and associate internship opportunities 4 December (UK 300 employer)
- Goldman Sachs International summer analyst internship 7 December (UK 300 employer)
- BlackRock summer analyst programme – advisory and strategy 7 December (UK 300 employer)
- Deutsche Bank analyst internship programme 28 December (UK 300 employer)
- UBS summer internship programme 31 December (UK 300 employer)
IT and telecoms internship schemes and programmes
- Credit Suisse IT summer internship 12 December (UK 300 employer)
Retail internship schemes and programmes
- Tesco commercial operations – general merchandise summer internship 1 December (UK 300 employer)
Selection of employers offering industrial placements and years in industry
Accountancy industrial placements and years in industry
- Volkswagen Group UK undergraduate scheme 2015 (UK 300 employer) 26 October
- Telefonica 12-month internships 10 November (UK 300 employer)
Engineering industrial placements and years in industry
- AkzoNobel R&D industrial placement 2 November (UK 300 employer)
- Johnson Matthey Plc chemical engineering industrial placement 3 November (UK 300 employer)
- Mondelez International engineering internships 30 November (UK 300 employer)
- Network Rail placements 29 December (UK 300 employer)
IT industrial placements and years in industry
- M&G Investments one-year information systems placement 9 November
- Motability Operations IT undergraduate placement 12 December
Retail industrial placements and years in industry
- Marks & Spencer business placements 7 November (UK 300 employer)
- Lidl undergraduate placement 28 November (UK 300 employer)
- John Lewis Partnership retail management industrial placements 3 December (UK 300 employer)
This is just a selection of internships you can apply for on targetjobs.co.uk right now. To find more, go to the internships and work experience search.