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Internships and work placements

What is an internship or a work placement?

They are a short term opportunity to work with a company that will allow you to gain new skills and experience working life in that particular industry. These are becoming more popular with school leavers not just graduates. 


Work placements

Work placements usually form part of your degree, providing an opportunity to apply your skills and gain experience of a real work setting. 

They are usually undertaken during term time and are typically called a 'sandwich' year or a 'year in industry'. If you are on a sandwich course you would complete your work placement between second and third year of study. You'll be assessed and receive academic credit for the placement.

Arranging a placement 

This process is specific to your university course, as the organisation may already be allocated to you. If you are arranging your own placement, you should first speak to your careers service as they will have a database of employers and may know who is offering work placements in your field. You could also search for work placements on platforms such as Glassdoor, Milkround or head to our Employer Spotlight page which is filled with Hertfordshire employers that could be offering work placements. 

Applying for a placement 

You may not have to go through an application process if an organisation is already allocated to you. However, if you do have to apply there is usually an online application form, which could then lead to a phone or video interview or an assessment centre. This means you need to prepare for the process and make sure you do your research on the company beforehand as placements can be competitive. 

Useful Resources


An internship is a fixed, usually short form of work experience. They are typically undertaken by students or graduates looking to gain experience in a working environment. 

Employers often use an internship to assess the student or graduates capabilities, this could then lead to a permanent role rather than advertising externally. 

What's the difference between an internship and a work placement? 
Internships tend to be completed over the summer or after graduation to gain experience in a particular field. Whereas work placements usually form part of a degree and receive academic credit. 

Finding an Internship

  • Make use of your careers service as there could be a number of internships that are exclusively advertised to your university.
  • Head to our Employer Spotlight page as a number of Hertfordshire employers could be recruiting for internships, work experience and graduate roles. 
  • Use social media to make contact- if you have a few companies in mind that you follow online then approaching them through social media might be the best way to stand out from the crowd. Read our How to Promote Yourself on Social Media to find out more. 
  • Speculative applications- Find out how to ask employers for work experience here

Salary for Internships 

Indeed states that the average salary for an intern in the UK is £19,864. 

An intern should receive at least minimum wage if their employment status classes them as a worker. You are not classed as a worker if you are: 

  • Work shadowing someone 
  • Students who are required to do a work placement as part of their higher education course 
  • Registered charities 

Are you a worker?

You are a worker if you: 

  • Have set hours 
  • Perform the same duties as paid members of staff 
  • Meet deadlines 
  • Work unsupervised or supervise others

There are unpaid internships out there but awareness of exploitative placements is increasing, remember to check your rights and if you are unsure then discuss it with your careers service. 

Applying for an internship

Application processes differ depending on the company. You may be asked to fill out an online application form, followed by a phone, video or in person interview or an assessment centre. This means you need to prepare for the process and make sure you do your research on the company beforehand as internships can be as competitive as applying for a graduate role. 

Useful Resources

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