Internships and volunteering

Ages 18-24

What is an internship?

An internship is a work placement for a fixed amount of time - anything from a week to a year - where you’ll learn skills and build your career portfolio. Internships can be paid or unpaid, but unpaid internships should still cover your expenses and travel. Some internships take place over the summer months, making them compatible with university study.

My internship

Find out from Beth how her internship in the banking industry matched up with her expectations going in, and what she took away from the experience.

Is an internship right for me?

An internship could be right for you if you’re looking to:

  • Try before you buy - You’d rather not commit to an industry or company just yet, but want to try it out first)
  • Build your CV - You’d like to gain experience to help with future job applications)
  • Grow your network - Having contacts within an industry is hugely important, plus doing an internship could lead to a graduate offer


This is another way to gain valuable experiences, build your CV and create examples of work and transferable skills you can discuss at interview.

What volunteering did for me

English graduate Beth’s volunteering experiences have helped her as much as she’s helped others. Find out what she took from them, and why they’ve been important to her developing her career.

Is volunteering right for me?

If you’re still studying, or can fit volunteering around part-time paid work, it can be an excellent option.

  • Flexible - You can fit volunteering hours around study or other work
  • Purposeful - You’ll make a difference and have a chance to do something meaningful
  • CV-enriching - The skills and experience you’ll gain will look great on applications, and give you lots to talk about at interview

What’s the difference?

  • Volunteering is always unpaid, whereas internships can be paid or unpaid
  • Volunteering is usually done for a charity or not-for-profit organisation
  • Internships can be completed anywhere, from not-for-profit organisations to businesses, but they’re more focused on you as a professional entering the world of work
  • Internships give you a realistic sense of the demands of the workplace, as well as its culture. They’re structured and supported. Whereas volunteering might just be a few hours at a time, in a less structured role
  • Internships are always for a fixed amount of time, whereas you choose the amount of time you can commit to volunteering