How to get an internship with a big graduate employer
Do well as an intern for a big-name employer that also runs a graduate scheme and you could significantly increase your chances of turning your internship into a job there when you finish uni. On average, 52% of interns and 43% of summer placement students got graduate jobs with their internship employer, according to the Institute of Student Employers' Annual Student Recruitment Survey 2018 (and the Institute's membership is made up of the largest employers).
Even if you don’t end up working there permanently, you will still have a prestigious name to add to your CV. You will probably have benefited from training from your internship employer and various perks and benefits of spending time at big-name organisations.
Internship perks and benefits at big companies with internships
Big employers in graduate recruitment are often considered the best companies to do an internship with because your benefits could include:
- pay that’s not far off the national graduate average
- facilities, such as gyms, sport courts and bikes to borrow
- subsidised or free food and drink
- exciting locations – they are often based in cities, providing plenty of ways to occupy your time while you’re not at work
- company-organised social events, such as summer parties, BBQs and days out
- retail discounts and free tickets
How to find an internship or placement at a big employer
You can find internship vacancies advertised on TARGETjobs. Or if you know that a company runs a graduate scheme, chances are it will have an internship programme too – most employers have a careers website where you can find out.
Don’t be lulled into a false sense of security by deadlines that seem ages away. If an employer gets enough good internship applications before the set deadline, it may cut the application period short. To be on the safe side, as soon as you see an internship advertised, start work on your application so you can submit it in good time.
How to win an internship
Several big companies run competitions that give cash prizes, and awards including overseas trips and internships.
The TARGETjobs Undergraduate of the Year is one such competition and has categories for different employment sectors.
How to apply for internships at big companies
Most big employers open their internship applications in the autumn, but you can still find opportunities the rest of the year round.
The application and selection process at high-profile employers is often similar to the process for graduates. It will almost definitely involve an online application form and a face-to-face interview. In addition, at different stages you may need to complete aptitude psychometric tests, a phone interview and an assessment day.
Most big employers open their internship applications in the autumn, with deadlines falling towards the end of the year. However, it's still worth looking for internship vacancies the rest of the year round.
- Read TARGETjobs Internships’ advice on online applications and interviews.
- Read TARGETjobs’ advice on psychometric/aptitude tests and assessment days.
Sector-specific advice for finding an internship at a big graduate employer
Make the most of our advice available that is tailored to specific industries by following the links below. There are more industries on the ‘Career sectors’ drop-down list at the top of your browser.
Accountancy and financial management: some employers require you to have work experience before you apply to their graduate schemes – find out about this and more.
Construction, civil and structural engineering, and quantity surveying: large construction, surveying and engineering employers take on students for summer internships and placement years. Find out what you need and how to get it.
Consulting: the majority of consultancies advertising on targetjobs.co.uk offer work experience. Get the basics.
Engineering: discover more about placement years – the most advantageous kind of work experience for engineering students – as well as the other options available.
Investment banking: the most determined students take part in first-year insight programmes. Find out about these and the other types of work experience in the sector (not just for first years).
IT and technology: there are loads of summer internships and year-long placements on offer, from IT employers and from other employers with IT functions. Read the sector overview.
Law barristers: work experience offered by barristers’ chambers is called a ‘mini-pupillage’. Find out more, including how to choose where to apply and how many mini-pupillages you should do.
Law solicitors: law firms offer work experience called ‘vacation schemes’. Get tips on applying and find out about other types of work experience that look good on a law CV.
Management and business: placement years and management-related internships are available in a variety of sectors. Find out how and when to apply.
Media and publishing: work experience in the media and publishing industries is all but essential; however, you may have to do some hunting around to find opportunities. Read our tips.
Journalism: making speculative applications is often the way that aspiring journalists find work experience; some big-name media outlets do offer official schemes, too. Find out more about this and, crucially, how to make the most of your work experience when you get it.
Property: completing an internship or placement year at a property firm proves that you are serious about surveying. Find out what’s available.
Public service, charity and social work: find out which public sector organisations and charities run internship schemes. Volunteering can also be a good way to gain valuable experience.
Retail, buying and merchandising: work experience opportunities are many and varied; they also cross over with other sectors, such as logistics. Get advice on where to look and what the application process for an official scheme could involve.
Internships with smaller employers: are they worth it?
‘Yes’ is the answer. While formal, paid internships are harder to find at small businesses and organisations, they can still give you skills and experience that will help you get a graduate job.
Follow us on Twitter @TjobsInterns.