Choosing an internship

How do you know if a particular internship is high quality? Use this checklist when looking at internship opportunities or ask these questions at interview.

Ideally, an internship would fulfil all the points on this checklist. Realistically, many will not – particularly in relation to pay. Only you will be able to decide if pay is a determining factor in whether or not you wish to pursue an internship. Many unpaid internships will be able to provide relevant, valuable experience; at the same time, a paid internship could be a waste of your time if few or none of the other points on the list are met.

Remember, if an intern is fulfilling ‘worker status’, an employer is legally required to pay them at least the rate of National Minimum Wage. There are a few exceptions to this, such as in the case of charitable organisations (find out more about NMW eligibility). You may also want to consider these questions to ask yourself before pursuing an internship.

Model Internship Checklist

Does the internship offer… Yes/No How important is this to me?
pay, at or above National Minimum Wage


paid holiday, at least is line with the statutory minimum


paid expenses (e.g. travel/lunch costs)


a statement of agreement or a standard contract that includes the duration of the internship, and hours to be worked


the opportunity to attend job interviews or (for students) the chance to attend meetings related to your studies


an induction which introduces you to your colleagues and provides some background information about the organisation


a clear outline of the work you will be completing


a varied workload that does not consist solely of repetitive administrative tasks, such as data entry


the option to discuss and set learning objectives


the chance to attend staff meetings


the chance to attend meetings with other departments and/or external partners


opportunities for networking


an assigned mentor/supervisor


regular check-ins with your mentor/supervisor to get feedback on your performance


scope to work collaboratively with other members of the team


a space to work within the same office as your team for the duration of the internship


a chance to give feedback on your experience at the end of the internship


the opportunity to ask for a reference letter after your internship is finished



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