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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 have 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 are needed in fixed jobs.

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 headstart when applying for work.

  • Amnesty International recruits interns for their International Secretariat (IS) offices in London, Geneva and New York. 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 a variety of roles available across the country, as well as voluntary retail and fundraising roles.
  • The British Red Cross runs a selection of voluntary internships in a variety of locations around the UK. These are available on a part-time basis for eight to twelve weeks.
  • Cancer Research UK runs graduate training schemes in a range of areas: scientific strategy and funding, fundraising and marketing, policy information and communications, HR and technology. It also runs an internship scheme, details of which can be found on their website. Internships are 12 weeks long.
  • The Charities Advisory Trust advertises roles on ots website and its recruits volunteers on an annual basis to help run Card Aid shops and support other initiatives. Volunteering opportunities run from September or October until Christmas.
  • Charityworks offers paid, full-time, 12-month graduate trainee positions in a partner charity or housing association, where trainees take part in leadership programmes that introduce graduates to the competencies and attributes you need to work and lead in the non-profit sector. You'll need a 2.1 in any discipline and a demonstrated piece of experience showing your commitment to social change, whether this is paid/unpaid, home/abroad or included caring responsibilities. 
  • Frontline offers c. 300 places on its leadership development programme: a two-year graduate job scheme in social work. The organisation also has student and graduate opportunities, both on campus and within the head office team.
  • Macmillan Cancer Support offers volunteer internships in areas such as events and fundraising.
  • Oxfam offers part-time voluntary internships lasting between 3 and 12 months in areas ranging from digital media and marketing to HR and IT.
  • People and Planet is a student-led movement that empowers young people with the skills, confidence and knowledge they need to make change happen. It offers internships to help candidates gain skills and experience needed for a career in charity work or campaigning.
  • SCOPE offers a range of volunteer opportunities. You could become a volunteer befriender or support the charity as a volunteer shop assistant.
  • Teach First runs a two-year leadership development scheme that trains graduates to teach and places them in schools. Graduates who take part will come away with a PGDE (that is worth double the credits of a PGCE), the opportunity to take a masters, and a network of friends and associates.
  • The Starfish Greathearts Foundation, an international development charity, offers voluntary internships at its offices in London. Internships are typically around three months long, for three to four days a week.