Work experience and internships

There are many ways to gain work experience, from internships through to unpaid volunteering work.

Internships at multi-national companies:

  • Many larger employers offer internships to build their graduate scheme pipeline. They may not therefore accept you for your internship scheme unless they sponsor graduate roles. You should call HR to check this before applying for these kinds of internships. Note that most schemes close by the end of January so it's best to apply during your autumn term. 
  • View the internships listed on mycareer using the "vacation work experience and internships filter", or those advertised on the websites listed on our Finding a job or internship page. Then check that employers you are interested in are licensed to sponsor on the list published by the UK government.
  • Student Circus is a good source of internships with UK employers who are all licensed to sponsor international students.
  • GradConnection is a good place to look for internships and jobs in your home country.

Internships at small to medium sized businesses (SMEs)

University of Bristol internship schemes:

The SME Internship scheme is currently restricted to students meeting certain eligibility criteria but check back in the Autumn when it reopens to all students.

The Q-Step Internship Scheme offers work experience in applied quantitative data analysis and is open to undergraduate students studying Childhood Studies, Criminology, Education Studies, Geography, Politics, Psychology in Education, Sociology or Social Policy.

The Faculty of Engineering ILO Internship Scheme enables students to gain valuable experience within an industrial environment. Some opportunities are in the UK and others are overseas.

Part-time work during your studies

Part-time work is a great way to understand UK working culture, gain UK work experience for your CV and grow your network.

  • Search the vacancies on mycareer, using the 'Term-time/part-time work for current students' filter in the 'type of work' search option.
  • The University of Bristol offers a wide range of part-time work, such as roles helping the Careers Service to run their events. Getting work experience through the University is one of the easiest ways for international students to quickly gain UK work experience. The skills you develop will put you in a stronger position when seeking work with other UK employers.

We have more advice on our finding part-time work page.

We also run a talk for international students on Getting work experience and internships in the UK; these are listed on the mycareer events tab.


Volunteering is a fantastic way to understand more about UK working culture and to develop your employability and English language skills. Bristol SU explains how you can get involved.

Bristol PLUS Award

The Bristol PLUS Award is very popular amongst international students as it provides a framework for you to make the most of your time in Bristol and puts you at an advantage in the job market. One of the main requirements is to undertake 50 hours of work experience or volunteering. Check our Bristol PLUS page to find out more about this Award.

Important information about working in the UK as an international student

  • Although you can start working before you have a National Insurance number it is a good idea to apply for it straight away, as the process takes a few weeks and you will need it to get paid. See applying for a National Insurance number.
  • You may also need to show an employer your passport, or a photocopy of it, to prove your identity (but never let an employer keep your passport).
  • The University recommends that undergraduates work no more than 15 hours a week during term time, in order to leave sufficient time for academic study. In vacation periods you can work full time.
  • For postgraduate students, summer is still term-time and you are therefore still restricted to 20 hours a week (or as otherwise stipulated on your visa) until you have submitted your dissertation.
  • Make sure you are being paid at least the minimum wage for your age group (it is illegal to pay employees less than these amounts).

For more information about working while studying, have a look at the International Student Visa Advice and Compliance website.