Volunteer helping a vet by holding a dog

Internships and volunteering – what are they all about?

There are other routes into employment – like internships or volunteering – rather than jumping straight into a job

If we fancy dipping our toe into a new career before taking a job, internships or volunteering could be a good way to get some experience.

An internship is a spell of work experience with a company or organisation. They tend to be taken up by students and younger people – but they don’t have to be.

As an intern, we won’t always get paid for our work. But employers are getting better about this and more of them now pay a small amount.

They tend to last a fixed amount of time – anything from a week to several months.

Internships are mainly about gaining useful experience, becoming more confident and getting to know people in the workplace.

Even if it doesn’t result in a permanent job, we may meet bosses who could give us a reference in future. And we’ll pick up skills to add to our CV too.

When it comes to finding an internship, the onus will be on us to track them down. 

We could search on recruitment websites, approach employers we’re interested in or put out an appeal on social media.


If we can regularly give up some time without being paid, then volunteering with an organisation we care about can be great.

Again, it looks really good on our CV and shows future employers that we’re motivated and have a genuine interest.

Plus, we’ll be giving something back while we broaden our horizons.

Charities are often on the lookout for volunteers – although many roles are not open to volunteering.

Other public organisations like hospitals and community centres will also welcome volunteers.

Volunteering Matters can give us more details on how to find a place. And there are separate organisations for volunteering in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

Like interning, volunteering can be a great confidence booster.

Internships and volunteering are different to apprenticeships. There’s more on these here.

Image: Mikhail Nilov / Pexels

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