Public service, charity and social work

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

It can sometimes be hard to know where to look for graduate schemes, so we have put together this handy guide to just a few of the 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 runs a variety of voluntary internships in a number of departments. Most last for three months.
  • 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, and technology. They also run an internship scheme, details of which can be found on their website. Internships are 12 weeks long.
  • The Charities Advisory Trust recruits interns on an annual basis to help run Card Aid shops and support other initiatives. Internships run from September or October until Christmas, with a chance for longer-term placements or permanent jobs.
  • 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.
  • 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 offers a range of roles for volunteers that will help them gain the skills and experience needed for a career in charity work or campaigning. There are opportunities in areas such as press relations and web design.
  • 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 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.