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Placements/internship opportunities in finance

Finance internships and placements

We use ‘financial services’ to refer to a wide range of business areas that affect the day-to-day lives of ordinary people, including retail banking, insurance and actuarial work. It’s no surprise, then, that the work experience options in this sector vary just as much. They include:

  • summer internships: these typically last six to twelve weeks during the summer and are aimed at penultimate-year students.
  • insight programmes: these are aimed at first-year students starting to consider a finance career, and can range from insight days to a week-long internship.
  • ongoing internships: some retail banking and insurance organisations may provide internship opportunities as and when there is a business need for them.
  • ad hoc work experience: some employers may offer more informal work experience for a week or two.
We’ve got more information about what financial services internships involve and how to make the most of them.

Applying for finance internships

Vacancies for summer internships open in September or October and close in December or January. Some organisations advertise vacancies on an ad hoc basis, so keep checking our listings below and follow us on Twitter @TjobsFinance . Make sure you apply soon after you see a vacancy advertised, as some employers will close applications once all places have been filled. You’ll typically apply for internships via a similar online application system to those used for graduate vacancies, although it may be shorter.

Internships are an opportunity to try working in financial services and see whether an employer or job role is right for you – if it isn’t, you’re better off discovering this during an internship than after you’ve started a permanent graduate job. Bear in mind, though, that you’ll need to already have some idea of what type of career you’d like as you will be applying for a specific vacancy in a specific department. Our commercial awareness article explains how to start developing your knowledge of the finance industry and demonstrate it in applications.

Speculative applications and alternative ways to get finance work experience

Consider applying speculatively for ad hoc work experience if you don’t manage to find a formally advertised internship. This method is particularly useful for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), such as those offering specialist services, because they don’t run an annual recruitment drive for internships. Send a covering letter and CV to an organisation in your preferred area of work to enquire about possible work experience opportunities.

There are various other ways to gain finance experience if you’re struggling to find an internship or want something extra to make yourself stand out. These include:

  • running a small business
  • setting up your own careers event
  • joining or starting a financial network

Can a finance internship lead to a graduate job?

Any kind of industry-relevant work experience impresses finance recruiters, as it shows your commitment to the sector and that you have the skills they require. In financial services, internships can even be a fast track to a permanent graduate role. Most financial services organisations aim to hire 60–90% of their interns. People who have completed an internship might be able to go straight to interview, skipping the other stages of the recruitment process, or even be offered a job straight away. For example, Claudia landed a graduate role at HSBC after completing internships there. She told TARGETjobs: ‘If you impress your line manager then you'll be recommended to the emerging talent team to be invited back and won't have to apply again for the graduate role.’ If you don’t get or accept an offer from the organisation where you did your internship, you can use it to boost your other graduate job applications, as it shows you have built up knowledge of the sector and thought about which area of work would suit you best. Alternatively, you might have decided as a result of the internship that a different department at the same organisation appeals to you more.