You have decided that London is the right city for your international internship placement or for a new job – the next step now is to find the right role and company for you.
You should allow yourself around six months to find and organise a job or an internship in London – you might even need longer. But you might be lucky to land a great opportunity in your first few months of searching. However, if you really want to find the perfect job or internship in your dream company, then you will want to allow yourself some time to find it.
Once you have decided on the industry or role you would like to intern in, the next step is to locate and contact the companies most well-suited to you and your goals.
But how do I know who or where these companies are, you ask? Well, we have put together this quick guide to help you find the perfect internship in London!
How To Find Potential Companies?
One of the most popular ways of finding jobs or internships, not only in London but all over the world, is through a Work Placement Agency. Work Placement Agencies are specifically designed to locate and organise jobs or internships in London and they have a number of contacts in a variety of industries. They are already on the ground in London and understand the job market and what you will need to know, who you will need to talk to, and what you will need to do to get noticed. (see our article on The Benefits Of Using a Work Placement Agency)
Any basic Google search will help you locate the most popular Work Placement Agencies in London.
Another popular way to finding an internship in London is on the internet – especially if you are currently living outside of the UK and plan on travelling to London. Since you will not have access to local newspapers, job boards or advertisements, the internet is the only way of finding such opportunities.
Most, if not all, companies have an official website these days and all companies will advertise whether they have work placements and internships available.
If you do find a company you think you would like to work for but there isn’t anything advertised on their website, then it is always worth contacting them directly anyway to see if there is a position available now or in the near future. We will discuss this point further below under How To Contact Companies.
Professional Industry Societies & Unions
Depending on your industry, you may have a professional governing body who oversees your industry and will advertise when specific opportunities are available.
Industries such as Law, Medicine, Engineering and Teaching will have such a society or union available in London. So if you are interning in any of these industries then check their websites and job boards for the latest opportunities.
Online Job Boards
Online job boards such as Indeed.com and Reed.co.uk are a good way of finding new opportunities in London. Most companies will advertise available positions on multiple websites, so it is always worthwhile checking a few different online job boards regularly.
How To Contact Companies
Once you have completed your research and found a few London based companies you think you would like to intern for, the next step is to get in contact with them!
Depending on the company, they might have a procedure in place for new internship or work experience applicants. The company will tell you if they have a procedure, otherwise it will be a matter of talking to their hiring or recruitment team directly.
Earlier we discussed contacting companies who do not have any positions advertised: we still encourage you to contact any company you feel would be the perfect fit even though they might not be hiring – you have nothing to lose! Not only does this show initiative, but it also shows the employer that you really want to work for them and no one else. The best form of contact in this situation is by telephoning them to ask about any opportunities, alternatively you can contact them via email (but you can never be 100% sure they see your application this way…).
The biggest piece of advise you need before you contact any company about an internship is to be prepared. Ensure you have all of your employment history, references and documents organised and ready to go.
This is the first time your potential employer is going to ‘meet’ you and you want to make a memorable and good first impression. They will not be impressed if you appear unprofessional or disorganised!
Since you do not live in London, you will not be able to physically go to the company headquarters and apply directly, so you have a few other options of contacting them about a position:
- Telephone – unless they specify on their website, a good way to contact a company first is via telephone. Phoning directly shows initiative, personality and confidence. From here, they will be able to tell you straight away whether they are hiring or where you should send your application.
- Company website – some companies prefer all applications to be sent to them through their website, especially if you are responding to a position they have advertised.
- Email – is always a good option if you are trying to contact a large company or corporation. Usually your email will be diverted to the company’s recruitment department.
How To Prepare Your Application
Once you have been in contact with your company directly and you know they have positions available, then the next step is to get your application ready. You already have your resume, references and documents prepared so most of the hard work is already complete!
Internship applications tend to consist of questions about your personality, your work history, what you will offer the company, and where you see your career going in the future. This is an opportunity to let your personality shine and to really highlight your skills and attributes. If paid employment is something you would like at the end of your internship, it is also good to mention it in your application since there is more incentive training someone they can later hire.
Be clear about your objectives on your application. Ensure it is easy to read and use simple language – it may be tempting to use all of the words out of the Oxford Dictionary, but showing off this way will not do you any favours.
Employers want to find out who you are, what you know and why they should hire you quickly. Stick to the facts and make it easy for them to want to give you the job.
What You Need To Know About Working In London
- Taxes: if your internship is paid and depending on your salary level, you will have to pay a percentage of tax to the UK Government. You will also need to lodge an annual tax return.
- Minimum wage: if you are coming from the States or somewhere without a minimum wage, then you will rejoice! The minimum wage is determined by age, so visit http://www.minimum-wage.co.uk/ to check your assigned age bracket.
- National Insurance Number: you will need to organise one before you can start work. This is like your official working identity number – each person is assigned their own number and all tax and employment payments are made using it. Visit https://www.gov.uk/national-insurance/overview for more information on how to apply for one. No mandatory for an internship.
- Long hours: Londoners and the Brit’s tend to work longer hours than their Mediterranean neighbours such as France and Spain. A regular working week is usually from about 8am – 6pm, Monday – Friday.
- Dress to Impress: Londoner’s have a reputation for being well dressed and smartly polished, so if you’re working in London then smart business casual is ideal. Typically, the rule is that it’s always better to overdress than underdress.
So there are our top tips to finding a job or an internship in London! It may seem a little daunting, but it will all be worth the effort once you are there living the London life. If you are well organised and prepared to answer all of the necessary questions, then we are positive you will find your dream internship in no time!