Landing a London Internship
What is one of the only places in the world where you can gain international experience in some of the most globally relevant companies in one of the most vibrant cities in the world and still speak English? You guessed it, London, one of the most sought- after cities in the world in which to live work and play, and landing an internship here will catapult your resume to the next level. The positions are highly competitive, but knowing how to market your strengths will get your foot in the door and set you on your way to a semester or summer in this bustling metropolis. Architecture, art, photography, design, fashion, law, business, and banking are only a few examples of opportunities waiting to be found in London.
One of the many bonuses of finding an internship in London is that numerous companies pay their interns, and being paid in pounds can be quite lucrative. London also provides a perfect home base for seeing the rest of Europe on a budget because flights are plentiful and very cheap. You can also read one of our articles about London on a budget.
Where to Begin
There are typically two different routes to go when searching for an internship in London. The first, and more labor intensive, is doing all the leg work yourself. With this option, you will find the internships that you are interested in by searching online career search engines, apply on your own, secure your own visa, and locate your own housing. It is exactly the way it sounds; you will be on your own. While this may provide you with just the challenge you are looking for, some may find the prospect of autonomy in a new country downright terrifying. If this describes you, then finding an internship agency may be the way to go, but they don’t come cheap. There, are however, many benefits to applying through a recruiting office. The good ones will provide ample support in the whole process from setting up your resume to sight seeing when you get there and everything in between. Don’t sign up with the first one you find. Do some research, read the testimonials, and compare program benefits. Just because it is the most expensive doesn’t make it the best.
The career services and international offices at your home university can also be a great help in finding the right internship. They may have connections and partnerships that you never even though of, so visit them too. While it may seem more cost effective to go your own way, take the time to evaluate all of your options from many different angles.
Resume vs. CV
Employers are looking for globally transferrable skills like creativity, communication, and collaboration. Here are a couple tips that can help you stand out and showcase your strengths. Use your CV as a place to spotlight your accomplishments and experiences whether it is through community service, speaking another language, or playing a team sport. The skills required for success in those areas transfer to skills that employers are looking for.
While a Curriculum Vitae or CV and resume are pretty much the same thing, there are, however, some differences to note. Both contain contact information, prior work experience, and education, but a CV is much more detailed. You will need to include sections that include professional affiliations, publications, research experience, and any honors or awards you have received. If you are lacking in experience in any section, be sure to highlight any examples of applicable skills that you gained through your education. This can be leadership roles in clubs, study abroad experiences, or volunteer work. Finish with a bulleted list of personal interests related to the job and list of references. Check out some samples online to get you started.
Nailing the Interview
Most likely you will be interviewing online through a program like Skype. Here are some things to remember when conducting an online interview:
- Confirm the time of the interview and time zone.
- Keep clothing conservative. You want your future employer to be interested in you, not distracted by your shirt.
- Allow yourself ample time to find a quiet location and make sure the roommates are gone and the lighting and backdrop are appropriate.
- Think before you speak, and keep it professional.
- Learn as much as you can about the company before the interview, and have questions ready.
- Be yourself, sit up straight, take a deep breath, and remember to smile.
If you live outside of the European Union, you will need a visa to work in London. Don’t wait until you have the job to figure out if you are eligible to accept it. The UK Border Agency or UKBA is a tricky beast to navigate for an outsider, and it is getting more difficult seemingly by the day, so allow ample time to file all of the necessary paperwork. You will need a tier 5 intern visa in order to enter the country. Regulations change all the time, so to find the most up to date information, visit the UKBA website.
Fun Language Facts
Here are some common spelling and language differences between the U.S. and the U.K.
U.S.-gasoline -- U.K.-petrol/diesel
U.S.- elevator -- U.K.- lift
U.S.-tire -- U.K.-tyre
U.S.-liter -- U.K.- litre
U.S.- color -- U.K.- colour
U.S.- favorite and U.K.- favourite,
U.S.- program -- U.K.- programme
Don’t forget to write your dates in the format "Day, Month, Year"
The sights and sounds of bustling London are within reach, and securing an internship not only improves your prospects for future employment, but it provides experiences that you will only be able to experience by reaching beyond your comfort zone and throwing yourself into something completely different. So why not settle in with a cup of tea and start searching for the perfect London internship right now.