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How to Fund an Internship in the UK

How to Fund an Internship in the UK main image

Guest post: Lilli Hender

Internships play an important part in the transition into working full-time. They can equip you with valuable skills and a glimpse into professional life. But while universities and employers are quick to stress that graduates need work experience, they often fail to acknowledge the expense.

Finding an internship in the UK can be difficult enough, let alone the money to carry it out. A month of unpaid work experience in London has been found to cost up to £926 in living expenses. To help you find an internship which is financially viable, follow these tips…

1. Search for paid internships Search for paid internships

Unpaid internships are a big topic in the UK and there are lots of campaigns, those run by Intern Aware being some of the biggest, that aim to raise awareness of the difficulties associated with them. While the fight to make companies pay interns minimum wage is ongoing, contributions to your travel expenses or a basic weekly rate is not uncommon.

Using job sites is a great way to find placements; Step is an example of one that specializes in sourcing paid internships. If you’re interested in a specific employer, it always looks good to contact them directly to find out what they offer in terms of paid work experience.

2. Find funding Find funding

Career services at universities are a great place to get general advice on work experience, but they can also tell you what the institution has to offer in the way of funding. If there is an internship scheme or bursary available to you, make sure you sign up.  

The government often has programs in place to help young workers: the British Council has a scheme to help UK students work internationally, for example. Similarly, your local council or educational trust may have a grant in place. There are also charities and organizations that focus on getting young people into work, such as The Prince’s Trust and the Northern Council for Further Education (NCFE).  

3. Raise your own funds Raise your own funds

Not only is a part-time job a great addition to your CV, the money gained can go towards your placement. An internship is valuable in the long term, so taking a short amount of time out to raise money for the experience is worth it – even if it feels miserable working to work more! The minimum wage for 18-20 year olds in Britain is currently £5.30 so if you work even eight hours a week, it will soon add up.

Another option is fundraising. However, it’s very important to be open and honest about what you’re fundraising for: you can’t have people thinking you’re raising money to build an orphanage when you’re hoping to work in a London law firm for a week. Gap Year and How2Fundraise offer fun and simple fundraising ideas.

Using your student overdraft is another option to cover the cost of your work experience. Interest-free overdrafts can be up to £3,000 for students. But while this can be handy, be careful not to go overboard with your spending. Remember to scrutinize any clauses that could make borrowing more of a hindrance than a help.

4. Cut down on travel costs Cut down on travel costs

When it comes to the expense of internships, it’s getting to and from the placement that can burn the most cash. It’s important to consider the reality of getting to work every day; even if it’s only for a week, it can still be costly. See if you have any family or friends that you could stay with and make sure to obtain a student travel card.

If there isn’t anyone, youth hostels and spare rooms are a good alternative to hotels and B&Bs. The Youth Hostel Association is worth looking into, and Spare Room is particularly useful for Monday to Friday lets.

This is by no means an extensive list of cost-cutting tips, but hopefully you can now approach your internship in the UK with fewer money worries. Good luck and happy interning, it’ll all be worth it in the end!

LilliLilli Hender is a recent graduate of the University of York. She has a degree in English and Related Literature and now writes for OfficeGenie.co.uk, a desk and office space marketplace. 

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