Many charities are run as professional businesses and carry out functions including research, lobbying and the raising and redistribution of funds. An internship with a charity can offer experience in these areas while providing an insight into the sector - vital when applying for highly competitive permanent positions after graduation.
What will I do?
Charity internships are normally less structured than in the private sector and often created to meet specific business needs or for work on a project. Some organisations try to tailor schemes to give interns experience of different parts of the charity's operations so you may work in fundraising, policy, communications and marketing, events, administration and research.
Placements are normally a block of several weeks or months and it may be possible to get part time voluntary work during term time. Full time internships are often aimed at graduates and can last for a few weeks or months. Part time positions normally involve 1 - 3 days a week, sometimes during term time, and generally working in the charity office. Charities are often flexible and prepared to work around your commitments; occasionally, there may be opportunity to work flexibly from home.
Charities will often run shared internships where two people split a full time role between them. You don't need to find a friend to share with; the charity will decide on the two most suitable candidates and agree work days between them.
Internships or work placements in this sector are almost always unpaid and will be viewed as voluntary placements, though some offer daily stipends for travel and lunch. See the LSE Volunteer Centre for advice on volunteering or book an appointment with the Volunteer Centre Co-ordinator on LSE CareerHub.
Most charities will only advertise when they have a need for, and are able to support, student volunteers, so there is no set time for applications. Most charities welcome speculative applications at any time. You will need to be able to commit time and energy to the placement, so consider applying for positions only when you know you can fit it around your academic work. It may be possible to undertake a placement as a graduate internship when you have completed university.
Organisations offering internships
See below for a list of well known charities who may offer internships or voluntary positions fairly frequently. Do look beyond the big names and focus on charities operating in areas of particular interest to you. Smaller organisations often have greatest need of voluntary help,and may provide good experience in a range of roles.
Remember to search on LSE CareerHub for a range of volunteering opportunities; log in and search for 'volunteering' under opportunity type, or save 'volunteering' in your preferences for targeted information.
Look out for LSE Careers' annual Volunteering Fair in early October for a fantastic opportunity to meet with a range of charity organisations and find out more about voluntary positions and work in the sector.
From work experience to permanent work
Volunteering or interning with a charity is an excellent way to move into the charity, NGO or the not for profit sector. Many charities will later employ previous interns in paid positions and will almost always look for experience of volunteering or charity internships on CVs when recruiting.
Few charities run graduate training schemes, but an internship may lead to subsequent paid work. As a volunteer, you may also gain access to the charity's internal vacancy board or hear about permanent vacancies through your new network of colleagues. Oxfam estimates that around 50% of its interns go on to do short-term paid work for them afterwards.
Organisations offering internships