London is one of the most dynamic cities in the world. With its rich history and endless attractions, it is an extremely popular destination for both tourists and students alike. It incorporates the largest urban zone in all of Europe and was in fact the world’s most visited city in 2011. Internships in London are available in a variety of fields including business, fashion, and government.Photo credit: Rob Bye.
Business: London, after New York City, is the largest financial center in the world. Hundreds of banks and many international corporations operate out of London. As a business intern in London, you will have the opportunity to work for one of the many corporations in the city. Finance internships in London are also very popular, with students working with one of the over 450 banks that operate in the area.
Fashion: Fashion jobs in London are also available. Although many people do not know it, London is a major European fashion center along with Paris and Milan. Many prominent designers are based in London and you will have an opportunity to intern with them.
Government: As the capital of the United Kingdom and thus being a hub of political activity, London is the perfect place to intern for students who are interested in government and politics. Parliament internships are available where students can intern with an MP (Member of Parliament) but it is important to remember that their application process is extremely competitive.
When and Where to Look for an Internship
Internships in London are available throughout the year, although summer internships are the most popular. Using an internship placement program is recommended as they help you with the application process and generally place you in an industry of your preference.
Cost of Living in London
Since London is such a popular city to live in, it's also very expensive. In fact, the cost of living is higher compared to most, if not all, American cities. As a student, you will need about 350 to 500 pounds ($550- $750) for food and personal expense every month, and this doesn't include housing!
Work Culture in London
The British are known for their stiff upper lip and thus may seem to be quite reserved. They are also known to be quite private so it is a good idea to not probe too much into someone’s private life. Like in the United States, a handshake is the best and safest way to greet someone. Additionally, it is a good idea to refer to someone older than you with the courtesy titles Mr., Mrs., or Miss along with their surname until they invite you to address them by first name. London is a very fast paced city and punctuality is extremely valued, so you should be right on time in business situations.
Work and Labor Laws in London
As an international student, you are allowed to do both paid and unpaid internships in London under UK Labor Laws. Unpaid internships are much more common than paid ones, thus you might want to look for part time work. If you have a Tier 4 Student Visa, you are allowed to work in England for up to 20 hours a week. However, it is important to note that it is difficult to find work and you must provide proof beforehand that you can afford to live in London.