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Do I really need an internship?

(click here to view the video transcript)

This video covers:

  • What is a UK internship?
  • Why UK internships don't always work for master's students
  • What do employers think about internships?
  • What alternatives are there to internships?
  • How to be strategic about the best work experience for you

It can be tempting to think an internship is the best option. These questions will help you work out if it's the best option for you.

Q. Is a summer internship (usually between May and September) going to work for you? If you are a postgraduate student, will it fit with your term dates?

Are you going to be free to work full time during the summer months? Do your visa regulations allow this? 

If you are available, and decide to apply for summer internships, you will need to start looking in the autumn term (September-December). You can find some websites that advertise internships under “Other Internships".  Make sure you get help with your applications from the Career Zone as there is high competition for internships. 

Q. Are there any opportunities to build work experience into your degree? Is there an option to do a work placement as part of your course? Can you work with employers as part of your final project or within a module?

This can be a really simple way to gain experience. Talk to your academics or tutor to find out what might be possible. 

Q. Did you know that employers in the UK value skills from part-time work, even if it is totally unrelated to your chosen career path?

That’s because part-time work is packed with opportunities to grow transferable skills, such as team work, problem solving and communication. Part-time work is often quite flexible and is far less competitive than a summer internship. Have a look at the section “part-time jobs” for more advice. 

Q. Would you prefer a flexible internship to fit around your studies? Or a full time internship with a local business after your studies?

At Exeter, we have our own internships for Exeter students and graduates. They are designed to be really flexible to fit around your studies. Our internships are either based on campus or in local businesses. 

Q. Would a placement of a 1-2 weeks work better for you?

Short, paid internship are available in our Professional Pathways or Green Consultants programmes.

Q. How about something designed especially forskills development by Career Zone?

Our employability schemes offer opportunities to develop your skills and the Exeter Award can give you recognition for the activities you are involved with.

Q. Do you only have a few hours to spare? Would you prefer to do something at times to suit you?

The global pandemic inspired many things to go virtual, including virtual experience programmes. Find out more in Prospects’ guide to virtual work experience. You can search for virtual work experience opportunities at Forage.

Q. What does your visa allow?

Your Student Visa (Tier 4) involves some rules around the hours you are allowed to do paid work during term time and the vacation period. There are also rules about the types of unpaid activities you can do - make sure you are aware of the visa rules.  If you have any visa related questions, get in touch with the International Student Support team.

A strategic approach is to start by working out the skills needed for your chosen career. You can do this by following these steps.

  1. Find job profiles on Prospects that interest you.
  2. Find the skills section in the profile and write the skills down on a piece of paper. Beside each skill, write examples of times that you have used that skill. Your examples can come from sports, hobbies and volunteering as well as work-based experiences. Any skills developed in your home country are still valid in the UK so include those too.
  3. Are there any skills in the job profile that you don’t have good examples for? If so, these would be good to focus on when thinking about which activities to do whilst you’re in the UK.
  4. Now you can look at all the great societies, sports, projects and programmes available at Exeter and find some that you will really enjoy at the same time as building up those skills you need.
  5. Remember- you don’t need to do everything that is available. Just one or two activities are fine- unless you want to do more of course!