Internships are most commonly associated with undergraduate students; while this is still very much the case, opportunities are becoming increasingly more available to graduates. This is partly in response to the economic crisis of 2007-8 but also a broader reaction to the related issue of graduate employability. Unpaid internships and work experience placements (often sourced speculatively) still constitute a large proportion of graduate opportunities, notably in creative industries such as publishing, advertising and journalism, but there are more organisations offering structured, paid placements.
Opportunities with large enterprises
Organisations that offer internships or structured work experience placements for penultimate year students may be willing to be flexible over their entry criteria; L'Oreal is one example of a company that will consider graduate applications for internships. Although this can't be guaranteed of other organisations it is always worth posing the question to the graduate recruitment team, particularly if the organisation and the opportunity strongly interests you. In addition to this slightly haphazard approach, more organisations are offering tailored experience schemes for graduates. Some of these are longer in duration (3 - 12 months) and are often termed as 'long-term internships'. The financial services sector, notably investment banks such as Rothschild and BNP Paribas, seems to be prominent in offering such opportunities. Other sectors are also involved in delivering graduate programmes; one example is Rolls Royce whose scheme can last up to 12 months. In the field of consultancy, Accenture have established the 9 week 'Navigator' programme. This is exclusively for graduates seeking experience of consultancy.
The difficulty is that there is not a definitive list or guide to graduate or long-term internships; it is essentially a case of using recognised graduate search tools (e.g. Prospects, Milkround) but also specifically researching organisations that interest you.
Opportunities with small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs)
Government Talent Pool is a government led initiative designed to encourage organisations to provide work experience placements for graduates. The opportunities are varied in terms of sector, size and type of organisation. Another option to consider is Graduate Step who provide salaried 2-3 month internships across the UK.
At a local level, an increasing number of universities are introducing internship programmes for students and graduates. The opportunities tend to be more regional but represent excellent opportunities for experience; eligibility will vary but it is not always necessary to be a student of a particular institution to participate. One example of this is in East Anglia where the University of East Anglia has set up a 12 week internship programme to support graduates from not only the university but the region. In the north east, Teesside University and Newcastle University have established graduate internship programmes. Durham University Careers Centre is also actively involved in the development of internship opportunities for graduates; vacancies will be posted on the vacancy section of the Student Services Portal as they become available. Alongside universities other organisations, such as local authorities, are engaged in generating interesting work experience placements. Gradsouthwest is one example of a regionally funded project incorporating careers services in the South West of England.