Internships are great ways to gain additional work experience, explore potential career paths and boost your CV. The majority of internships are aimed at graduate students who are currently studying at universities or for those who have recently graduated.
There are, however, also some opportunities available for 16-18 year-olds looking to gain experience before embarking on undergraduate study or full-time work. Whilst these are often unpaid, they are beneficial experiences to strengthen your job and university applications.
What Opportunities are Available for 16-18 Year-Olds
There are three main internship options available:
This type of placement allows you to observe a professional at work. A company may organize for you to spend time shadowing just one person, or multiple members of the workforce. This helps you to understand the type of work someone in this role will undertake on a day to day basis. You will not complete any work for the company yourself and, therefore, this sort of placement is usually unpaid.
Many companies will accept work experience students to gain experience working in that particular field. Whilst these often form a part of undergraduate study, there are also companies who will offer such positions to those who have recently left school. The duration of the placement differs between companies. If you are looking for placement such as this, it is worth writing to various companies directly, as these opportunities may not be advertised
School Leaver Placements/Holiday Schemes
Larger companies, particularly those in finance, accountancy, and management, often offer opportunities such as this. These internship placements typically take the form of a training programme. The programme allows students to try out the work and see if it is something they wish to pursue as a career, and it also offers a way for companies to ‘trial’ potential future employees.
What Internship Opportunities are Paid?
According to the law in the UK, if a person undertakes any work for a company, then they must receive payment for it. Therefore, if you take up a work experience placement, school leaver placement or holiday scheme and you are given tasks to complete for the company, then this is classed as work, and you will receive payment for that work (at least the minimum wage).
If, however, you take up a placement where you are only work-shadowing, you are not completing work for the company and, therefore, you will not receive any payment.
There are, however, two situations in which you will not be paid if you complete work for a company: 1) Volunteer work for a charity. 2) If the work experience placement forms a part of your programme of study. Some companies who offer such placements may decide to compensate individuals with support towards transport or lunch costs.
If you have any concerns regarding the payment of internships, visit the gov.uk website for more detailed information.
Where to Find Internships for 16-18 Year-Olds?
There are many websites dedicated to helping graduates, or recent graduates, find internships but finding opportunities for high school students is slightly harder. Try these websites as a starting point:
This website offers information and guidance on graduate internship opportunities, School Leaver Programmes (specifically targeted at those not going to university) and application advice (covering CVs, interviews, tests, and assessments). The work experience placements offered here generally last between one day and two weeks.
Many banking, media, law and science companies have placement opportunities advertised here, including Bank of America Merrill Lynch, the BBC, Sky, GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Rolls-Royce. Details provided on the website include the length and location of the placement, requirements for application (e.g. GCSE grades) and advice on how to apply.
This is a leading youth charity for 14-30 year-olds providing opportunities for volunteering and social action. By simply entering your location and any keywords linked to the type of opportunity you are looking for, you will be able to find out about the volunteering roles available. Details of the exact location, timing, expected commitment, age requirement and the closing date for applications are provided, along with information regarding the tasks you will do, the skills you will develop for your CV and anything else you need to know.
Direct applications can be made through the website. However, as these are volunteer opportunities, no payment will be received for the work.
It is also recommended that you write directly to companies you are interested in gaining experience with to see if they have any positions available.
Top Companies Offering Placements to 16-18 Year-Olds
Although most of these companies will offer unpaid ‘shadowing’ work to 16-18 year-olds, they can be a ‘foot in the door’ into the sector in which you wish to work in the future.
The BBC typically offers a two-week placement in either the London or Salford office in the News, Vision and Sports departments.
Students aged 18 and above can attend ‘insight days’ in order to learn more about journalism.
Again aimed at students 18 years old and above, Penguin offers two-week placements in any of their departments.
The charity offers 12-week summer placements for students looking to do some voluntary work and gain insight into the non-profit sector.
Students looking to move into the law sector will want to apply for one of these placements. Available to students aged 18 and above, the placements are available in multiple locations across the UK, including London, Manchester, and Glasgow.