You'll impress potential employers and develop your skillset by gaining relevant work experience before securing your first marketing job. See how a marketing internship could give your prospects a boost

Marketing jobs are available across all sectors, but when it comes to finding work after university, you'll face stiff competition from other graduates. If you haven't built up any practical marketing experience in delivering and promoting products, you'll be at a disadvantage.

Undertaking an internship while studying is such an important way to equip you with the skills employers are looking for.

What is a marketing internship?

Usually lasting between two and 12 weeks, an internship is an opportunity for university students to gain work experience with an employer, either through a sandwich placement or summer internship during the holidays. This could be with a large company or small and medium-sized enterprise (SME), with both options having their advantages.

As work experience is an integral part of graduate recruitment in marketing, these internships can lead to a graduate position for successful recruits. While most programmes are aimed at those in their final year, some employers do offer paid internships or vacation placements to first-year students.

However, if you've graduated from university within the last three years, you can search marketing, advertising and PR internships at Graduate Talent Pool (GTP), a free service for graduates seeking graduate internships.

Which companies offer marketing internships?

Many leading employers that run marketing graduate schemes also post details about internships on their website and via their social media channels.

For instance, in its early careers programme, telecommunications giant Sky offers eight-week paid marketing placements during the summer. You could work on a digital advertising or direct mail campaign and see projects go from the planning stage all the way through to execution. See Sky - Early Careers for other work experience opportunities.

Beauty brand L'Oréal's internships are offered from three to twelve months in length and they're designed to provide students with professional training in business areas, including marketing. You'll become a team member and get to work on projects that hone your skills as a business leader. With almost a third of graduates recruited by the company each year being former interns, this is a great opportunity to make a real impression.

Accredited 12-month placements in marketing are also available with fashion retailer ASOS. These fast-paced, challenging programmes, starting in late June, are offered as part of an undergraduate degree and are based at the company's head office in North London. Applications are typically accepted between September and December the year before the internship takes place.

How to get work experience in marketing

Bigger organisations tend to advertise their internship programmes formally, while small businesses will normally be open to receiving speculative applications or be contacted through networking. Voluntary organisations may have opportunities in their marketing or PR departments.

You can also find out about local opportunities through your university careers service, attend open days, or arrange taster experiences and short introductory courses to increase your chances of getting a foot in the door.

Some students get marketing experience by working in a relevant communications role within their students' union, or by making the most of extra-curricular activities with a university club or society.

For those with strong technical skills in mediums such as mobile phones, display advertising and search engine optimisation, explore how to get into digital marketing.

PR internships

If you're interested in getting specific PR work experience, you'll find that there are many possibilities to sample the agency environment.

By undertaking a PR internship with a renowned agency, such as FleishmanHillard in London, you'll be involved with a number of projects including researching, writing, event coordinating and media pitching. As well as public relations, you'll get a good grounding in social and digital communications and public affairs.

Based at their Osterley site, Sky's PR and communication experts manage relations with the media, government and the company's 23,000-strong workforce. Those on one-week public relations internships work in corporate affairs, tasked with informing these different groups of people and enhancing Sky's reputation.

Get more guidance by reading our tips for starting a career in PR.

Advertising internships

If you're serious about getting into this competitive industry, you'll need to work hard to land an advertising work experience opportunity with an agency or secure a job client-side. This will give you the best possible start in your career.

For example, the Hatch recruitment scheme at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO lets (up to three) teams, including an art director and copywriter, work in their creative department for three months. If accepted, you'll get to work on client briefs, develop spec work and work on projects for smaller clients. Work experience is also available for college and university students aged 18 or over. This consists of an intensive two-week programme where you'll be paired with an account manager mentor. The aim is to present a pitch project with your group to senior agency staff.

In addition to its standard internships of between one and three months within its various teams, Ogilvy also offers a programme for non-graduates. The Pipe is open to anyone who can come up with the best creative idea, with the top 14 candidates earning the opportunity to work at the agency for six months starting in September.

Advertising work experience is also available with other leading agencies, including Grey London and M&C Saatchi.

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