In this competitive sector, having relevant work experience can set you apart from other candidates - discover the range of finance internships offered by the leading graduate employers over the summer months and get your career off to the best possible start
Many Bachelors programmes now include work placement opportunities lasting up to a year, giving students the chance to experience the world of work for themselves and put the skills they've learned through the course to good use.
However, these year-in-industry placements are often restricted to science-based fields such as healthcare, engineering or manufacturing.
For finance students, if there's nothing formal in place for your course, your best option is to arrange an internship either between your first and second year or second and third year of university.
What are finance internships?
An internship is defined as work experience or on-the-job training carried out at an organisation for a limited period of time.
While they can last for up to a year, internship positions are typically available for between one week and three months during the summer holidays. This is in contrast to work placements, which usually take place during term time.
Internships are available in a range of fields, with companies in all sectors keen to take on finance students.
What are the benefits of these programmes?
By completing a finance internship with an organisation, you can make a strong case for securing a full-time job or entry onto their graduate scheme once you graduate, as many roles are filled by former interns.
The experience can also give you a good insight into the financial sector, while you'll have gained relevant skills that can boost your career prospects.
Discover the finance skills employers are looking for in our overview of the UK's financial sector.
What finance internships are available?
All the UK's major banks run banking internship programmes:
- Barclays - both summer and off-cycle (three to six months) internships are available across 12 areas including corporate, consumer and retail banking, private banking and wealth management, and Barclays payments.
- The Co-Operative Bank - eight-week summer internships in technology, digital, product, finance and business banking.
- HSBC - the bank runs a range of global internships including a four-day spring (April) insight programme for first or second-year students looking to learn about the UK's financial services and banking industry.
- Lloyds Banking Group - in addition to its one-year industry placements, the organisation also offers summer internships for those in their second or final year of university.
- NatWest Group - an eight-week finance internship starting in June, which may lead to a place on its finance graduate scheme.
- Santander - six to ten-week internships in corporate and commercial banking, corporate investment banking and risk.
To discover how to secure an internship with a leading investment bank, such as J.P. Morgan's global finance and business management analyst programme, consider our 5 tips on getting into investment banking.
If you're planning on working in any area of insurance, including actuarial, accounting and consulting, insurance internships are available through:
Aside from working for a financial institution, there are also general finance internship programmes available across all sectors. These will allow you to work in a company's finance department.
The following graduate recruiters all take on finance interns:
If you're just looking for an introduction to finance rather than a formal on-site internship, virtual work experience is another option to consider.
Taking around five or six hours to complete, the banking and financial services job simulations available through Forage include programmes in commercial and investment banking from the likes of J.P. Morgan.
The Institute of Chartered Accountants in England and Wales (ICAEW) runs a Virtual Work Experience Week during the summer that's open to over a hundred school students who are curious to learn more about chartered accountancy.
What do they involve?
As a finance intern, you could be assigned to a specific business project, get to train with other interns or learn by job shadowing someone in a particular finance role.
For example, at Barclays you'd be working on a real project to get an insight into their business. The nature of what you'll get to work on depends on the specialism you choose.
The Barclaycard payments summer analyst will get to develop and drive business plans and track their return on investment (ROI), while providing analytical support and interacting with teams across the company.
Held over four days, the HSBC spring insight programme gives interns a taste of what it's like working in their global banking and markets function. By engaging in skills workshops, interactive learning sessions and trading games, this can provide a fast-track entry route to their summer internships, which run from June to September the following year.
At The Co-Operative Bank, interns will rotate across several placements designed to develop your commercial and strategic thinking, negotiation, influencing and leadership skills. During the programme, you could be working on profit and loss statements and balance sheets for month-end reporting, producing weekly summaries of economic trends or shadowing on financial planning processes and forecast discussions.
On Tesco's 10-week Hertfordshire-based summer finance internship, you'll get to work with various finance teams in delivering a project, while getting to understand how the world of finance works. If you later make it onto their finance graduate scheme, you'll get to study towards the CIMA (Chartered Institute of Management Accountants) qualification.
What are the entry requirements?
To get onto The Co-Operative Bank's student finance internship you'll require at least five GCSEs (or equivalent), including Maths and English at grade 4 or above and be projected a 2:1 in any discipline.
The NatWest Group also expects interns to be on course for achieving a 2:1 in any subject, while the Lloyds Banking Group and Tesco look for students who are on track to getting at least a 2:2.
In addition to GCSEs and a projected 2:1, Zurich also asks for at least 96 UCAS points comprised of CCC grades from three A-levels.
Nestlé expects their finance interns to be in the penultimate year of a maths-based degree.
How and when do I apply?
While most applications will involve an online application form, the deadlines vary between each programme.
For example, RSA internship applications open in December, and assessment centre invitations are sent out in February for sessions in March or April, with the internship starting that summer.
On The Co-Operative Bank programme, which is held during July and August, you'll fill in an online application form, attend an online interview followed by an in-person assessment centre in Manchester.
To gain a place on the NatWest Group's finance internship programme that takes place during the following summer, you'll be able to apply online from September, with applications being accepted until the roles are filled.
You can find out about the latest finance intern jobs by visiting company websites or your university's careers service.
Will I be paid?
While interns are only entitled to the National Minimum Wage (NMW) for their age - see GOV.UK - National Minimum Wage rates - most employers in the sector pay over and above this.
Here are the latest wages on offer for 2024 summer internships in finance (all salaries are pro rata):
- The Co-Operative Bank - £21,000
- NatWest Group - £22,600
- Nestlé - £23,250
- Tesco - £20,000
- Zurich - £20,000
Find out more
- Explore the range of graduate finance jobs.
- Consider studying finance qualifications.
- Read about student jobs at university.