London is the biggest city in Europe and a hub for creativity, productivity, and culture. What this means for internship-seekers is that London has an incredible range of placement options. You'll find opportunities to gain valuable experience in business, government, or entertainment, just to name a few.
London hosts international interns who are at all career stages. There are opportunities for people who are taking a gap year after high school or those who are switching careers. Some students need to meet an internship requirement for their degree. The majority of London's interns are recent grads.
Start planning early because it's hard to live on a budget in London! That being said, landing a highly sought after internship in this bustling city can give your career a great boost.
Entertainment, business, and government are just three of the many industries that stand out in London. There are always internships available in these areas, but the interview process can be very competitive. Working with a third party will almost certainly guarantee you a spot in your chosen field, but the assistance is not free.
This is a broad category including film, dance, theatre (get used to the British spelling), fashion, and event planning. London has internships available in all these fields and many more!
As an intern you might not actually be the one doing the entertaining. More likely, you'll support the entertainers by making everything run smoothly behind the scenes. If your goal is to be on stage, you might have to be patient. Learn all you can about your industry of choice, be reliable, anticipate needs, network, and enhance your resume.
A business internship in London can give your career quite the boost. Whether you specialize in administration, research, management, or international business, London has something for every interest. However, these positions, even unpaid ones, are highly sought after. Working with a third party might be the best option for those after a business internship.
London is the center of government in the UK, so it's a great place to get your start in politics. You'll meet and network with people from around the globe. Serve as an assistant in the famed House of Parliament, work on research projects for policy implementation, or learn from lawyers in one of London's many practices.
Planning Your Trip
There's no such thing as too early when it comes to planning your internship in London. There's a lot to think of, but a good way to start is to make a list of businesses that you'd love to work for. Even if you are working with a placement organization, this list will help you remember exactly what you're looking for.
Best Time to Get an Internship in London
Internships are constantly opening up in London, so you can start anytime. However, you'll find the most options during the summer.
Internships generally last anywhere from six weeks to one year. So you should be able to find a placement to fit your current situation. If you're a student, summer might be your only option. If you're about to graduate or switching careers, you could also try for a fall or spring start date.
If you find an internship in London through a third party, that organization will likely place you in approved accommodations. This could mean having your own flat in the city, a homestay, or a shared dorm.
If you are traveling on your own, you can look into renting an apartment, though it might be difficult to find a place without signing a lease. Look into staying in a hostel or hotel for an extended period of time if your internship is on the shorter end.
Cost of Living
London is definitely more expensive than most U.S. cities, especially during the summer. The cost of traveling and living in London is lower from August to May.
When planning your budget, be sure to consider the cost of flights, visa, accommodations, food, entertainment, and in country transportation. If you work with an internship provider, the program fee will most likely include training, accommodation, and possibly public transport costs.
Those looking to intern in London will need a Tier 5 Government Authorized Exchange visa. The application comes with a fee, can take a long time to process, and you'll need to meet several requirements to demonstrate that you can afford to live in London for the duration of your internship. You'll have to show proof of insurance as well as prove that you're really there to work by supplying a resume and cover letter.
This process is not entirely straightforward. If you are a current student, you can seek help from your study abroad office. If you're already studying in London, you can look into changing your student visa into a work visa.
No matter where in the world you're working, it's a good idea to be as professional as possible, prompt, and respectful of others. London is no exception, but here are a few differences to expect:
- Personal space is important to Brits. Handshakes are normal, but hugs and friendly kisses can be a bit much in the workplace.
- It's a CV (curriculum vitae) instead of a resume, and the layout is slightly different.
- Write the date as: day, month, year.
Intercultural training may be available with the program fee if you travel with a provider. Want to keep reading about interning in London? Here are 8 Tips to Land a Paid Internship in London.
Health & Safety
When it comes to health and safety, traveling in London is similar to traveling in big cities in the United States. There are definitely areas that have a higher crime rate, and if you are planning to rent your own apartment, you should avoid those neighborhoods. Some of London's most visited neighborhoods report the highest number of crimes, but most of those are due to pickpockets.
Keep your belongings close to your body, don't travel alone (especially at night), and don't drink too much. The drinking culture in London pubs is more about camaraderie than anything else.
Use common sense in general, and London will provide a wealth of amazing experiences, both in and out of the office.