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Graduate schemes and internships in the charity/not-for-profit sector

It can be hard to know where to look for graduate schemes in the charity sector, so we've put together this handy list of options available.

Graduate schemes aren't as widespread in the voluntary and not-for-profit sector as they are in the commercial sector – many charities don't have the resources to run intensive training programmes and prefer to take on staff as and when they’re needed.

However, there are a small number of graduate schemes on offer. Some organisations also offer internships, which may not lead to a graduate job but can give you a head start when applying for work.

  • Amnesty International recruits interns for its International Secretariat (IS) offices in London, Geneva and New York (and occasionally for other offices). Interns work part time or full time for four to six months. Internships tend to focus on international law and advocacy or are fellowships in partnership with universities.
  • Barnardo’s offers volunteering opportunities including in retail and fundraising roles, and an office-based position in which volunteers carry out work such as writing reports and organising events.
  • The British Red Cross offers the chance to volunteer in a variety of areas including marketing, fundraising, interpreting and youth education.
  • Cancer Research UK runs a graduate training scheme in a range of areas: finance, policy, scientific strategy and funding, technology and HR. It also runs a paid internship scheme with placements in departments such as communications, technology and fundraising. Internships are typically 12 weeks long.
  • Charityworks offers paid, full-time, 12-month graduate trainee positions with partner charities and housing associations, during which trainees take part in a leadership programme that introduces them to the skills needed to work and lead in the not-for-profit sector.
  • Frontline offers a leadership development programme in which graduates spend two years training and working as a social worker. It also offers six-month internships and the opportunity for students to be brand managers.
  • IntoUniversity is a charity that supports young people from disadvantaged backgrounds to go to university. It runs a graduate scheme, along with unpaid internships, which involve working two to three days a week over a period of two to three months.
  • Macmillan Cancer Support offers unpaid internships in areas such as health and social care, editorial and digital engagement.
  • Oxfam offers unpaid voluntary internships in areas such as IT, HR and accounting. Interns usually work for 2 or 3 days each week, and internships might last anywhere between 3 and 12 months.
  • People and Planet is a student-led organisation that aims to give young people the skills and confidence to bring about social and environmental change. It offers paid internships.
  • Teach First is a charity that runs a two-year training programme in teaching. Graduates who take part will gain a PGDE (that’s worth double the credits of a PGCE), the opportunity to take a masters, and a network of friends and associates. Teach First also offers a week-long internship for those studying a subject related to science, technology, engineering or maths at university, as well as paid part-time campus representative roles.
  • The Starfish Greathearts Foundation is a charity that works with community-based organisations to improve the support of vulnerable and orphaned children in South Africa. It offers voluntary internships in community fundraising and events, and trusts and foundations. Interns work for three days a week over three months.
  • Wellcome is a research charity that supports scientific research and development. It runs a two-year graduate development programme in which trainees work alongside experienced professionals in areas including policy, funding and operations. It also offers eight-week internships to undergraduate students, in a range of areas including neuroscience and mental health, talent acquisition, and investments.
  • Worthwhile runs a graduate scheme offering placements in small, socially impactful organisations, alongside workshop-style training.
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