Majority of students would apply for an unpaid internship

News Release January 2016

Results of the first Annual Internships Survey show over 60% of undergraduates are prepared to work for no pay has released the results of the first Annual Internships Survey, which is a detailed survey of over 500 students who applied for an internship in 2015.

The most surprising result was that over 60% of respondents would still apply for an unpaid internship despite the continuing negative press they receive. Added to that, 76% would apply for an Internship that only paid expenses.

pie chart: Would you apply for a unpaid internships?

Obviously, the ethical and legal implications of not paying employees is still a highly contentious issue but, for now at least, students are still prepared to sacrifice finances for work experience.

The survey also revealed that students do not have particularly high expectations about how much they should be paid. They indicated £16,000 as the most suitable salary for an Internship and less than 1% thought that salaries for Internships were too low.

pie chart: What is the main frustration when searching for an Internship?

Undergraduates are using a mix of online and offline channels to find their Internships. Job sites were the most popular place for a student to look, with a huge 86% of participants using them to find a relevant role. However, this was closely followed by University Careers Fairs with 69% of the vote.

bar chart: where would you go to find an internship

The report will be released annually to identify trends in the increasingly popular Internships and Work Placements industry. Other key findings from the 2016 edition were;

  • Work Experience was cited as the main reason students apply for Internships
  • Personality was voted the key attribute to successfully getting an internship
  • The most important aspect when applying for an internship was the job description
  • Too many applicants to the same roles is the main frustration for applicants

Operations Director of, Gerry Wyatt commented:

It's clear that students are very keen to gain work experience whilst studying at university. At we've seen employers increasing the number of internship places they offer, but it appears the number of vacancies are still not matching up to the demand.This could be one of the reasons that many undergraduates are starting to consider opportunities without remuneration.

Even though the current job market is stronger than in previous years, it's still tough - students know they need to be prepared when they compete for a graduate job.

University leavers are much more aware of what graduate employers are looking for compared to three years ago. We would attribute this to the ongoing efforts of Careers Services, who are assisting students to be proactive about their careers from the first year onwards.

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