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How to secure an Internship

By OliverWillis 29 Jan 2024

Internships are a great opportunity to gain experience and skills to bolster your resume, build industry connections, and stand out when applying for work after graduation. It can also help you decide if that specific career is right for you. 

What are internships 

Internships are short-term work experience, usually in summer or in a placement year, where you will be working alongside a team on a project. 

Roles and responsibilities 

The roles and responsibilities of an intern will depend on the industry. Interns may be expected to do research, compile data, help organise events, and shadow higher-level management. You will have a level of responsibility but you will not necessarily be expected to make huge business decisions or highly complex tasks, so do not worry!


You can choose an internship local to you, in another city, or even in another country. This allows you to choose something convenient or venture into other cities and countries.

Are Internships paid? 

In the UK, all interns should be paid at least minimum wage according to the law as they are classed as ‘workers’. However, if the internship is considered to be volunteering or purely work shadowing, they may go unpaid but with travel and food costs covered, but this is largely up to the company. Getting paid for an internship is great, especially if you are away from home, but remember that having the opportunity to learn as much as possible and create new relationships can be crucial to your career.  

How to get an Internship

There are many ways of securing Internships. It is recommended that you apply at least 6 months before the Internship start date but even if you apply later or earlier than this suggested time frame, you still stand a chance of securing a place. 

University Programmes

The University of Leeds has exclusive internship programmes. This is a good way of securing an internship as there is an existing relationship between the company and the University. Generally speaking, because these opportunities are only offered to Uni of Leeds students rather than nationally, they are less competitive. Also, remember to check emails for new internship prospects and speak with your professors and career centre for more information. 

Click here to find out more about University of Leeds Internship opportunities

Click here for the University of Leeds Careers Centre

Company Advertisements

Many companies advertise internship opportunities which is great because it gives you more choice but they will be more competitive than those offered by the University because anyone can apply. Check the careers section of your chosen company's website. 

Gov UK

The UK government offers summer internship programs. Click here for more details. 

Cold outreach

If there is a company you want to intern at but they are not advertising any positions, consider reaching out and asking if there are any opportunities because there might be a perfect project or team waiting for someone with your skills. 

Most companies have a contact page but the best option is reaching out to someone who works there, especially if they are involved in recruitment or with the department you are interested in. This can be done through LinkedIn messages, phone calls, or email. Make sure to sound enthusiastic, polite and professional when getting in contact with employers, as this can help your chances.

Unfortunately, it is often the case that the company you have in mind may not have any internship prospects, however, it is always worth applying or inquiring because if you set a good impression, you may be considered for further opportunities down the line. 

Personal contact

Knowing someone who works at the company you want to intern at can be very useful because they already know you and your skill set, and therefore can recommend you for relevant roles. 

Websites for finding internships:

Internships can often be competitive and even with work experience, enthusiasm and a degree in progress, you are not guaranteed a place. Because internships are competitive, having internship experience at a company, especially when they are well-known, can improve your resume. 

When applying for internships, create a document with all the companies you have applied for, any relevant details and application status, as this will help you keep track of everything. 

Applying for an internship

Applying for an internship is similar to a job, so standing out from the other candidates is vital. Each industry and company will have a different application and interview process, and there are plenty of resources on Youtube, LinkedIn and Google on your specific industry or even the specific company. 

After you have found an internship opportunity that interests you, do some research into the company so your application aligns with its mission, vision and culture. Remember to be professional, but show off your personality. 

When applying, use a strong CV, cover letter, and include recommendations. 

Main points to cover:

  • Why you want to work there 

  • Previous experience 

  • Education 

  • Relevant skills 

  • Extracurricular activities

If you are successful, congratulations! Unfortunately, there are usually a few interview stages, especially in competitive internships. These interviews may be a chance for the recruiters to get to know you more and or tests, you may be given resources and questions beforehand. Finally, remember that you are also interviewing them to see if this is the right company for you, so prepare questions in advance. 

Extra Points 

  • Create a strong LinkedIn profile because recruiters will often check for this 

  • Create a personal website to show I.T Literacy and show off your skills 

In many cases, it can be worth following up with emails and phone calls to show commitment and push your application but try not to overdo it. 

Making the most of an internship

The two key benefits of having an internship are networking and work experience.


 Networking is about setting a good impression and building genuine relationships. The relationships you build during an internship may help you in the future when looking for work or even if you need a hand with a project or work assignment. Try to maintain a relationship with people you meet during your internship, as they can be beneficial in the future. 

In the workplace, try establishing common interests with your team, as this can help build rapport and trust. It is also worth networking with people outside of your immediate team, which can be done by being enthusiastic and asking questions. If you see something in another department that interests you, don't be afraid to go over, introduce yourself, and ask what work they are doing and how it's going. 

If there are colleagues you work well with and have built a relationship with, be sure to get their contact details such as phone number, email and connect on LinkedIn. 

Maximising work experience 

Internships are an amazing opportunity to gain knowledge, skills and experience, but this requires you to put in the effort. If you are assigned to a specific project, go above and beyond when helping your team and take every opportunity to learn. If there is an upcoming expo or project, get involved as much as possible and try to take on a suitable amount of responsibility. Also, if there is a skill that would be useful for the project, you could spend time outside of work learning it so, you can better support the team. The more you put in the more you get out. 

How to set a good impression and benefit the most:

  • Seek active feedback, show commitment and curiosity  

  • Dress accordingly. If colleagues are dressing smart, make sure to do the same. 

  • Be social and network. You may be invited to after-work social, which are a great chance to get to know the team

  • Show perseverance and adaptability

  • Take every learning opportunity 

The aim is to be recognised as a fully functioning team member. Being recognised as an effective team member and earning a positive reputation increases the likelihood of receiving a full-time job offer in the future, and being supported in your career. Even if this company is not the right fit for you, you may be able to ask your colleagues for recommendations or references for future opportunities with other organisations or companies. 

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OliverWillis I am Olie, currently staying in Lupton Residence and studying sustainability and environmental management.
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