8 Tips to Land a Paid Internship in London
Ready to embark on your internship abroad? It should come as no surprise that London is one of the most popular internship destinations in the world. The perfect home base for both interning abroad and traveling Europe on a budget, you’ll meet wonderfully charming people, forgo language barriers, and embark on an adventure full of challenges and surprises. As a country full of competitive global companies, the possibilities for professional success are endless.
If an internship in London, England is on your radar you may be overwhelmed with the amount of information available online. At Go Overseas, we’ve reviewed the essentials to provide all you need to know about nailing down a London internship.
What to Know About Interning in London
England is a center for international business and world leadership, and London is the capital city -- literally and figuratively. The London economy is growing, and being paid in pounds can be quite profitable. Architecture, art, photography, design, law, business, and hospitality are just some of the exciting opportunities that await you if you're looking for a paid internship in London. However, there are a few basics you should know first.
1. Researching London Internships
Finding an internship in your home country is hard enough; finding an internship abroad can be downright daunting. The best first step is to start your internship search early and start close to home.
Tap into your local resources: your university career services and international department are just two immediate places that offer a wealth of information and support in the beginning stages of your time abroad.
Find out if you are eligible to receive college credit for your London internship. For American students, many internships in England will have partnerships with U.S. institutions. Even if your "pay" is only course credits, it is still valuable.
Utilize reputable resources to kickstart your paid London internship search. Websites that specialize in third-party placement, program provider reviews (like Go Overseas!), or direct hiring are the best place to start looking.
2. Popular Industries for Interning in London
London is not just the largest business hub for the United Kingdom, it is also globally significant. By interning in England, you are tapping into some of the top companies of the world, which means more opportunities for international networking.
Thanks to the number of organizations operating in England, almost any sort of internship program is available in London: this includes marketing, accounting, media studies, information technology, hospitality, finance, engineering, and architecture.
Some industries are more lucrative for interns than others. Business, particularly, is a buzzing field, as London is the largest financial center (after NYC) in the entire world. Finance and international business majors will delight in the number of opportunities within one of the many corporations in the city.
Students with an interest in the fashion industry will find internships-a-plenty in the U.K.'s capital city. As a major European fashion center rivaling Paris and Milan, there is a large number of renowned designers headquartered in London, ripe with paid internship opportunities!
Lastly, internships for the politically-minded are often pursued in London. Exposing yourself to other forms of government can help you better understand our own system, making it a perfect internship in England for Americans.
3. Visas for Internships in London
Without a U.K. passport, U.S. travelers visiting London for an internship will need to obtain a Tier 5 Visa before they arrive. This visa will allow you to legally work in London for a limited duration.
Varying by the passport holder’s country, the visa application process can be lengthy and is best arranged through your program provider or university. Your temporary working visa application may require financial, insurance, and student documentation, in addition to a processing fee.
If you are lucky enough to already be studying abroad in England, you may use and convert your Tier 4 Visa into a Tier 5 to legally work certain jobs in London. Either way, since the process takes approximately six weeks to complete, it is best to start early and leave room for delays!
Upgrading Your Resume for a London Internship
Finding your dream internship in London is only the first step in your journey; you still have to get your foot in the door with a great first impression. Here are some tips for crafting an impressive and memorable resume.
1. Building a Relevant Internship Resume
Before perfecting your resume, you should first start referring to it as a curriculum vitae (also called a “CV”). CVs are similar to the traditional resume, but be mindful of the difference in layout.
Instead of starting with your education, for instance, your profile or personal statement should come first. This is an opportunity to introduce yourself to your prospective employer and explain in just a couple short sentences why you are right for the job.
Next comes work experience: if you don’t have much, be sure to highlight any examples of applicable skills you gained through your education. This can be leadership roles in clubs, study abroad experiences, or volunteer work. Follow with academic credentials, and close with a bulleted list of personal interests related to the job.
2. Resume Highlights That Will Make You Stand Out
Some internship employers find a list of references to be useful, and most applications require at least one. In addition to references, below are a few more highlights to add to your CV that can help secure the paid internship of your dreams:
- Community Service: Prospective interns who have experience volunteering or taking initiative in community service projects are more likely to exhibit leadership and collaboration skills.
- Travel Experience: Your gap year abroad wasn't spent in vain. Employers value applicants with global experience. You can exhibit the ability to work in and adapt to diverse environments.
- Multilingual Skills: Organizations highly value interns who speak multiple languages. You can communicate with global clientele.
3. Resume Mistakes to Avoid
British employers are looking for interns with globally transferrable skills. As in the U.S., you'll always want to personalize your CV to match the job and company you are applying for -- generic CVs and mass cover letters are a big no-no.
Use your CV as a place to spotlight your accomplishments and experiences. Be creative in how you market yourself because you never know how your future employer may connect with you. Don't forget to use British English spelling (add some color , if you will) and write your dates in the "Day, Month, Year” format.
Interviewing For a Paid Internship
Congratulate yourself for working hard on your resume and researching impressive internship opportunities in London. Despite the high competition, your upgraded CV landed an internship interview! So what next?
1. What to Expect From Your Interview
Unless you are planning on vacationing in England or are already there studying abroad, then you will probably find yourself invited to a phone interview or video conference call.
As online chatting becomes more and more the norm, companies are frequently utilizing platforms like Google Meet, Zoom, and Skype to connect with potential employees. The interviewer will still ask you the same traditional questions, so be sure to prepare adequately.
2. How to Prepare for Your Internship Interview
How can you showcase your skills if your interview is conducted remotely? Sometimes online platforms can be more intimidating than a face-to-face interview.
Take a deep breath, sit up straight, and dress to impress (at least from the waist up). Traditional suits or conservative tops are the way to go, and neutral colors tend to translate best over video feeds.
To prepare for your interview, treat it as you would an in-person meeting: do your homework and learn about the company and its location beforehand so you can ask specific questions beyond what's found on the website. Be sure to have a print out of your CV by your side, and a notebook and pen to take notes.
Prepare your space by finding a quiet, comfortable location with good lighting and a strong internet connection. Be yourself, answer questions thoughtfully, and smile!
Financial Tips for Paid Interns
As one of the most expensive and exciting cities in the world to live, London tops the list of places to find an internship in England. But since internships are not as highly paid as full-time career salaries, it is important to consider finances and a realistic budget before accepting a paid internship offer.
1. Confirming Your Internship Salary
Since unpaid internships are more common around the world, you may find difficulty finding exact payment information for the internship of your dreams. If you are like most applicants, you'll also feel a bit awkward when deciding how to have "the conversation."
Don't fret. Discussing salary and payment is all part of the process, and most companies will already have a set hourly wage they normally pay interns.
Be sure to confirm your exact salary and payment schedule before accepting a position, and check that your wages will match your living expenses. If you find the proposed wages to be too low, don't be afraid to request reimbursement for expenses like transportation or parking fees.
2. Affordable Cities to Intern Near London
While a budget-friendly London experience can be achieved by shared expenses and stipends or reimbursements, living abroad can quickly break the bank.
As a solution, some people commute to London from its outskirts to save money or opt to work with a company in a nearby city. Newcastle, Bristol, Birmingham, and Manchester are popular cities in England that offer reputable international internships.
- Newcastle and Bristol are vibrant student destinations with an active nightlife. Bristol in particular is a center of manufacturing, business, and new technology where you can let your creative spirit roam.
- Manchester is a fantastic option if you love sports and are looking for financial work or hospitality internships; it's just a short 2.5 hour train ride from London!
- Birmingham is another great option for financial, manufacturing, or engineering jobs. Ripe with opportunity, there is also a plethora of nightlife and sporting events.
Where Will You Intern Abroad?
Finding a paid internship in London, England can be the perfect way to not only gain valuable employment skills but expand your global network. An internship abroad, especially in England, is a fantastic first step into a lifelong and fulfilling international career.
This article was originally published in May 2013, and was updated in April 2019.