Every year thousands of students and young people participate in an internship. Doing an internship overseas has the added benefit of a global business insight to complement great industry experience.
What is an internship?
An internship is a work placement that provides valuable experience relating to a particular industry or field of study. In most cases it is a short-term contract ranging from 4 weeks to 12 months, full time or part time, which focuses on training.
Why do an internship?
They are most popular with current students and recent graduates who want to increase their experience and expand their industry knowledge before looking for a full-time career job. An internships can also contribute to course credits. Employers often look favourably on job applicants who have internship experience and in some cases an intern may be offered a full-time position with their internship employer.
Do interns get paid?
Positions exist for paid and unpaid interns and there are pros and cons for both.
The perception of an unpaid intern is that they are providing cheap labour. However, (based on UK employment law) there are certain regulations in place limiting what an unpaid intern can do. In most cases the role will allow shadowing of a company employee rather than actively contributing to the workload. The employer and intern must agree that there is no contract of employment and the intern is under no obligation to perform specific work or carry out instructions. In theory the intern is able to come and go they please. Their status is “volunteer”.
This type of internship is more appropriate for very short placements.
Despite the regulations, some employers take advantage of unpaid interns. For this reason, unless the placement is for 2 – 4 weeks, Working Holiday Store recommends paid internships.
A paid internship provides greater scope for gaining work experience and to make a positive contribution to the company. You will have a formal contract of employment detailing your responsibilities. The salary that you are offered is at the discretion of the employer and must be in accordance with any minimum wage regulation. It is unlikely that you will receive the same pay as a full-time employee, but your salary should cover basic living costs and will allow you to spend an extended time with the company thus improving your skills and long term employability. In some cases the employer may be able to help with accommodation and travel expenses.
Are UK internships available to overseas applicants?
Yes. However, there are clear rules and guidelines that must be followed. If you are from a country that isn’t in the European Economic Area (EEA) you will need a visa. Regulations are enforced by the UK Border Agency (UKBA) and they work with partner organisations and sponsors in order to make the process as simple as possible. Some companies can help you to get the internship and then support you through the necessary visa paperwork making the whole process simple and straight forward. Alternatively, you can look for your own placement and then apply to the sponsor company for your visa help. International interns will enter the UK based on the Tier 5 Authorised Exchange Scheme.
If you are from a country within the EEA you do not need a visa to participate on a UK internship. You can find out more information regarding your rights and responsibilities here:
Working Holiday Store partners with Awesome Work & Travel in South Africa and International Exchange of North America (IENA) in USA and Canada. They will help you to organise your internship; they will help you to find the right placement, guide you through the visa paperwork and provide comprehensive support (helping with insurance, flights and other travel planning). In the UK you will have the full assistance of an approved Tier 5 Government Authorised Exchange Scheme Sponsor. Once in the UK the sponsor will provide you with local support including an arrival meeting, help with bank account formalities, taxes, local travel as well as offering social events.
What types of internship exists?
A broad range of industries support internship programmes. They include:
Where can I find out more?
If you are a South African resident looking for an internship programme please visit the Awesome Work & Travel website to discover how they can help you plan your internship. If you are a US or Canadian national, please visit the IENA website for more information about their services.