Securing a first job in the marketing industry can be tough if you don't have relevant experience - however, completing a successful internship with a leading employer often leads to a permanent offer when you graduate

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 in the marketplace, you'll be at a disadvantage.

That's why 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 all marketing, advertising and PR internships at Graduate Talent Pool (GTP).

Which companies offer marketing internships?

Many leading employers that run marketing graduate schemes also post details about internships on their website and via 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. The Early Careers section of their site has other work experience opportunities.

Beauty brand L'Oréal's three-to-12-month internships are 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.

Undertaking a PR internship with a renowned agency such as FleishmanHillard in London means that you could 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.

Meanwhile, to join the public affairs team at Grayling for two weeks' work experience, providing a great boost to your CV, you can either be a student or recent graduate. However, you'll need to have studied politics or similar at university, have a sound political knowledge and a good eye for detail. Successful candidates will get to help organise events, produce research briefings and engage in media and political monitoring.

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

Advertising internships

If you're serious about getting into the competitive advertising industry, you'll need to work hard to land an opportunity with an agency or secure a job client-side. By having relevant experience under your belt, this should give you the best possible start.

For example, the 'Hatch' recruitment scheme at Abbott Mead Vickers BBDO lets (up to three) teams made up of an art director and copywriter work in their creative department for three months. If accepted, you'll get to work on client briefs and develop spec work, as well as 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. The top 14 candidates get 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.