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The Micro-Internship Programme | The Careers Service The Micro-Internship Programme – Oxford University Careers Service
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What are micro-internships?

Micro-internships are short-term work experience placements, which take place at the end of each term and are full-time and voluntary. Micro-internships take place mostly in Oxfordshire and Greater London, but in 2018 the programme began expansion to other cities. The placements are available exclusively to current, matriculated Oxford students.

All placements have a duration of 2-5 days and take place in 9th or 10th week. Each internship gives you the opportunity to observe and assist with a notable project. The aim is to develop your professional skills, add to your CV, and offer you the opportunity to make new professional contacts. Placements can be research-based or professional, with host organisations ranging from investment banks and consultancy firms to tech start-ups and heritage sites.

Whilst micro-internships are voluntary and unpaid, host organisations must cover interns’ local travel expenses (please note that this is within the relevant city, e.g. within Oxford or London, and does not cover inter-city travel) and lunch expenses on production of receipts.

If you are an organisation looking to offer a micro-internship then please take a look at our Micro-Internships Employer Information webpage.

What will I do?

The focus of the placement is to observe and assist with a notable project. There are a broad range of internships advertised through the programme across various sectors and involving many different skills. The project with which you assist may be self-contained or form part of a larger, on-going project – sometimes this may even be a project begun by previous Oxford interns. It is also possible for interns to be involved with multiple related projects over the course of the placement. Your experience will usually be accompanied by work shadowing, offering insight into the professional workings and daily life at your host organisation. This might include attending meetings and participating with day-to-day tasks, or observing an assignment or process.

Examples of recent micro-internships

“The main project of my placement was working on how the future launch of the app Greater Change (a cashless donations app for the homeless) should be marketed. As part of this we carried out some social media analysis and developed various ideas and strategies to give a presentation on a variety of different ideas that could form the app launch marketing. We also took part in some practical fundraising and met with homeless people on the streets to talk about their take on the app.”  Micro-intern at Aspire

“The internship I did was a science communication internship. We were looking at the effect of diet on the gut microbiome and how that can effect mental and physical health. We did some target market research for the course and looked at similar courses available.”  Micro-intern at MAP Health

“I worked on data analysis, analysing financial information using Stata. I undertook research into remuneration in the Italian insurance sector, which was used in a client presentation. I also researched the funeral market and its regulation, using my knowledge of economic theory to understand competition in the market. I then presented my findings to a senior partner.”  Micro-intern, Oxera Consulting LLP

In other micro-internships our students have gained experience in:

  • The development of new marketing initiatives, or reviews of existing marketing strategies
  • Data collection and presentation: from creating, distributing and compiling surveys and survey responses, to the photographing and digitising of medieval manuscripts
  • Event planning
  • Fundraising and awareness campaigns
  • Product development
  • Creating a new campaign film to fit the organisation’s brief
  • Research and report writing: from investigating the ramifications of organisation relocation and restructuring, to market research
  • Programming and software development
  • Writing educational articles for a specific audience
  • Researching and creating business models
  • Conducting audits within an organisation
  • Cataloguing collections and research with archives.
Why do a micro-internship?

There are many significant benefits to micro-internships, and you might apply to the programme for several reasons:

  • Employability skills – internships offer the opportunity to acquire a range of employability skills such as problem-solving, self-management, presentation and communication skills, and commercial awareness (see more on our Employability Skills webpage). These skills are highly valued by employers and the ability to demonstrate them is vital during the recruitment process.
  • Enhance your CV – by the end of your micro-internship you will have achieved tangible outcomes, which can be then be translated as evidence for exhibiting certain attributes – particularly on CVs, cover letters, application forms, and in interviews.
  • Convenience – all micro-internships last 2-5 days and take place during 9th or 10th week, so you can gain work experience even if you have a busy academic schedule.
  • Accessibility – the majority of micro-internships are based in Oxfordshire and Greater London. Many students return to various parts of the UK during vacation, so we are currently expanding the programme to other UK cities. We request that placements are easily accessible by public transport.
  • Exploration – micro-internships allow you to explore career options, gain insight into a sector that is new to you, or experience an area outside of your academic field.
  • Insight – a micro-internship will give you a concise insight into a particular sector or type of organisation. If you are considering pursuing a career in a certain sector, a micro-internship is a great way of helping you to decide if you might like to pursue it further.
  • Variety – because placements are both short and voluntary, a great variety of organisations are able to offer placements through the programme, many of which would not ordinarily be in a position to support interns – in particular start-ups and charities.
  • Contacts – placements provide a fantastic opportunity to network with professionals in your chosen field, with some micro-internships leading to further work experience or career opportunities.

Feedback from past micro-interns

“I found the project to be very engaging and informative, particularly researching new industries and reporting my findings. It was extremely beneficial to develop and utilise skills that otherwise would not have been covered on my academic course.”  3rd year MEng Engineering Science, micro-intern at MeVitae

“I think the real benefit to me has been the experience of working in a start-up and getting acquainted with the working culture of a company that is still working out how everything functions. I really enjoyed this because it meant that I wasn’t expected to perfectly mesh into a pre-existing structure, but rather my role was largely determined by what I could contribute.”  MPhil General Linguistics and Comparative Philology, micro-intern at Cycle.land

“I was very impressed with Unlocked Graduates and thoroughly enjoyed my time there. The small nature of the company gave me a very hands-on experience with multiple areas of office life. The recruitment team who I was stationed with was very welcoming. They gave me tasks which I felt I could perform well in, and were careful not to just make me feel like I was there in a “tea-making” role, but that I was actually doing tasks which were helpful. My supervisor also allowed me to sit in on interviews for marketing positions, which will be useful to me in applying for graduate scheme positions in the future.”  2nd year English Language and Literature, micro-intern at Unlocked Graduates

“The project has helped me to understand that I would like to go into a career that involves a lot of written communication. Undertaking the internship helped to improve my confidence because I began to understand that I am good in this area and have the talents to pursue it.”  2nd year BA Geography, micro-intern at Right for Education

“This internship was a very special experience. It was certainly a unique opportunity that allowed me to work with collections that I otherwise would have never had access to. Simply being able to handle and get to learn about such beautiful silver was incredible, but the host organisation also went out of their way to make sure that I got the most out of the week.”  DPhil Classical Archaeology, micro-intern at St John’s College

“I thought this internship was fantastic. I gained a lot of exposure to all aspects of the business: sales, marketing, PR and product design.The particular firm was unique, especially with regard to its office atmosphere, so it was interesting to see somewhere so different to typical City firms. It has really encouraged me to think about working for a business like Central 23: that is, a business that is entrepreneurial, fast-paced and ambitious. The team was so welcoming and informative. I mainly applied for an internship to enrich my CV but I ended up benefiting in many other ways.”  1st year Philosophy, Politics and Economics, micro-intern at Central 23

Applying for a micro-internship

Who can apply?

Any current, matriculated University of Oxford student (undergraduate or postgraduate) may apply to the Micro-Internship Programme. Visiting students, MBA and EMBA students (Said Business School) are unable to apply. We encourage MBA and EMBA students to access the Said Business School Careers Service.

Our internship hosts welcome applications from all sectors of the community, and many are especially keen to encourage students with disabilities and candidates from under-represented groups to apply.

When to apply (each term)

  • 0th week, Wednesday: placements advertised to students (Application Support Sessions begin this week)
  • 3rd week, Monday (midday): application deadline
  • 3rd week, Tuesday: applications sent to host organisations
  • 3rd – 5th week: all first-round applicants informed of outcomes
  • 5th week, Monday: MIP second round (some placements may be re-advertised)
  • 6th week, Monday (midday): application deadline for second round
  • 7th week: all second round applicants informed of outcome
  • 8th week: ‘Making the Most of Your Internship’ workshop

Sign up to our Internship Alerts mailing list in order to stay updated about the Micro-Internship Programme each term.

Where to apply

Each term’s micro-internships are advertised on CareerConnect. Once logged in go to Search & Apply under the Internship Office and Skills Programmes tab, and then select ‘The Micro-Internship Programme’ from the Programme drop-down on the Refine search toolbar (on the left side of the page) in order to identify and view all opportunities currently available. See p16-20 in our comprehensive guide to using CareerConnect for information on searching and applying for micro-internships.

Micro-internships are also advertised via our Internship Alerts mailing list, on our Facebook page, the Careers Service Twitter, in the weekly Careers Service e-newsletter, and on the Careers Service blog. Each term, the Internship Office publishes sector and location lists to help students search for placements, which are distributed through these channels.

How to apply

You may apply for two micro-internships per term, although to ensure fairness and accessibility across the programme, you may only accept one placement offer (even if the placements would be in different weeks).

Click on ‘Apply Now’ on the respective vacancy page on CareerConnect and follow the instructions provided. You will be required to upload a file of a one-page CV and write a 300-word personal statement in the application form. Your CV can be a pdf file or a Word document. Please do not use Pages files as these cannot be accessed on the system. For CVs or personal statements longer than the application requirement, the Internship Office reserves the right to reduce them accordingly without notifying the student.

Please note that we are unable to accept late applications or applications sent by email; therefore please make your application(s) before midday on deadline day. We strongly advise that you make your application well in advance of the deadline. It is your responsibility to ensure that your application has been submitted successfully and that you have received an automatic confirmation email. If you have not received a confirmation email for each application within three hours of submitting, or if you are experiencing any other technical problems, please contact micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk immediately so that we can assist during working hours.

Application support

To see the full range of support on offer to assist you with your application, please download our Application Support Document. Please also see our Employer Feedback on Student Micro-Internship Applications, which contains useful advice from recent micro-internship hosts.

Don’t forget that the Internship Office runs Application Support Sessions for students applying to our programmes. These sessions are 15-minute 1:1 appointments and must be booked via CareerConnect (please see the Events tab). Details of these sessions will be available a couple of weeks before a new term begins. If you would like further support with your application, we recommend taking a look at our website for guidance on CVs, cover letters, and demonstrating that you fit the job criteria. You can also make an appointment with a Careers Adviser.

Sign up to the Internship Alerts mailing list or follow the Careers Service blog in order to receive each term’s Application Support Session schedule.

What happens after I’ve applied?

Once the deadline has passed, the Internship Office sends all applications to hosts for selection, although does not take part in the selection itself. Hosts may contact applicants for interviews or telephone calls, so please do ensure that you regularly check your emails and where possible, provide a telephone number with a voicemail.

The Internship Office communicates all application outcomes to students. Successful candidates have two days to accept or decline an offer (once they have heard both outcomes, if applicable). Students may only accept one micro-internship offer per term. The Internship Office will then connect students with their host via email so arrangements can be made prior to the placement week. Some hosts choose to arrange a meeting or induction prior to the micro-internship – this is often beneficial to both host and intern, as it gives a chance to discuss the project and meet colleagues.

Frequently asked questions

Will the placement be in 9th or 10th week?

Each advert will specify the dates of the placement, but will usually take place within one of these weeks. Some organisations are flexible and ask students to state date preferences in their application form. Any queries about dates should be sent to micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk

Will I be paid?

Micro-internships are voluntary and unpaid, although hosts must cover the intern’s local travel expenses (please note that this is within the relevant city, e.g. within Oxford or London, and does not cover inter-city travel) and lunch expenses on submission of receipts. Students submit receipts directly to the employer for reimbursement during their placement. Hosts are unable to reimburse any other expenses unless explicitly stated in the micro-internship advert.

If you think you will be unable to take up a placement for financial reasons please let us know by emailing micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk.

Is accommodation provided?

Accommodation is not provided through the programme. It is the responsibility of applicants to arrange, and cover the cost of, their own accommodation. We strongly recommend that you research this before applying. For Oxford-based placements, if you live in college accommodation we recommend that you approach your college with a request for a 9th or 10th week extension as soon as you apply for your micro-internship. See below for further information about accommodation. As students only have two days to accept or decline micro-internship offers, we cannot hold offers whilst students wait to hear from their college. Colleges may also be able to provide travel and accommodation bursaries for students undertaking work experience (including outside of Oxford).

On what days will the micro-internship take place?

Micro-internships take place each term during 9th or 10th week, and last for 2-5 days. Placements are usually Monday-Friday, but might run over a weekend (if stated). Before applying for a micro-internship you should ensure that you will be available for the entire duration of the placement. The duration and working days are decided by the host organisation. These are usually specified in the advert but if you have any further queries you can email micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk

How many hours per day will I work?

Usually, micro-internships are full-time hours (for example – but not limited to – 9am-5pm) each day, although this is decided by the host and will be communicated to you before your placement. Some hosts offer flexible working hours and this is usually stated in the advert. Therefore, please ensure before applying that you are available during the placement week.

I am unable to intern for one day during the placement week. Can I still apply?

Students are expected to undertake a micro-internship as they would any other professional placement. Students are unable to apply if they cannot commit to the week. However, if flexible dates are specified in the advert, you may state your date preferences in your application. Any concerns or queries about dates can be emailed to micro-internship@careers.ox.ac.uk

How many times can I apply/how many offers can I accept?

You can apply to two micro-internships per term, although you may only accept one placement offer per term to ensure fairness and accessibility across the programme.

How competitive are micro-internships?

This question is the most frequently asked during our Application Support Sessions. We encourage students not to be deterred from applying to ‘popular’ placements – if you think a certain micro-internship is ideal for you, we encourage you to apply! Micro-internships are a great way to explore and try something new. Instead of being concerned with the number of applicants, it’s your chance to work on your application to make it stand out. We cannot determine how many applications a placement will receive: some places are competitive, others less so. If you are not successful on one occasion, it is a perfect chance to develop your application and skills for the next time.

Am I able to accept further work experience with my host after the micro-internship?

The Internship Office greatly encourages a connection between students and hosts, including any future internships, full-time or part-time positions, and students are more than welcome to accept further opportunities.Should your host organisation offer a further opportunity, we recommend that you read our Internship Best Practice webpage, and bear in mind our Internship Office Policy on Voluntary Placements, below:

Through the Micro-Internship Programme, the Internship Office facilitates voluntary work experience placements with reimbursement of local travel and lunch expenses on submission of receipts. Due to the voluntary nature of micro-internships, their maximum duration is 5 days. If, following the micro-internship, the hosts wish to engage interns to undertake work or undertake a full internship, this arrangement should be made directly between hosts and interns. Hosts should remunerate students at the minimum wage or above for this separate arrangement; the UK Government webpages provided useful information on minimum wage policy and employment rights for interns.

My question is not answered here!

Please contact us! You can email micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk. To keep updated with the launch of vacancies and deadlines for the submission of applications, make sure you follow the Careers Service blog, sign up to our Internship Alerts mailing list, and follow the Internship Office on Facebook.

Accommodation during micro-internships

For Oxford placements, if you live in University-maintained accommodation we suggest that you approach your college as soon as you apply for a micro-internship to see if you will be able to secure an extension for 9th or 10th week. Micro-internship offers cannot be held so please do research accommodation in advance. We can provide a letter of support to your college if necessary: please contact us at micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk.

If you are unable to obtain an extension in college, or if your placement is in another city, you might consider some of the following options:

  • Staying with friends or family
  • Circulating a request for a spare room via your JCR/MCR mailing list, president or meetings – many students who live in house- and flat-shares outside of college will have rooms available in Oxford during the holidays
  • Asking friends at other Oxford colleges to book a guest room for you
  • Approaching the accommodation offices of other Oxford colleges directly
  • If outside Oxford, approaching the accommodation offices of other universities directly
  • Facebook groups like OxGrad Housing can be useful for finding or requesting rooms in Oxford
  • Websites such as Airbnb or Spareroom
  • YHA Oxford has private rooms from £55, and there are many cheap hostels and hotels across London and other cities.

Please note that micro-internship hosts are unable to help with accommodation unless specifically stated otherwise.

If you require extra funding for your micro-internship to cover travel or accommodation costs (internship hosts can only reimburse within the relevant city travel and lunch on submission of receipts), we recommend that you approach your college as they may have travel grants or bursaries available. If you think you may be unable to undertake your placement due to financial or accommodation issues, please contact us as soon as possible (micro-internships@careers.ox.ac.uk) and we will try to help.

Preparing for your placement

If your application to a micro-internship has been successful, then firstly: congratulations! You can be confident of yourself and your abilities, and hopefully we can help you to make the most out of your internship! We understand that students have busy academic schedules, but it is important to do a little preparation before embarking on your placement.

In 8th week, the Internship Office runs ‘Making the Most of Your Internship’, a workshop to help you maximise your opportunities before, during and after your placement. The workshop usually runs for an hour over one lunchtime. This is particularly helpful for micro-interns, although all students are welcome to attend. Booking and details are available on CareerConnect during term time (please see the Events tab on CareerConnect).

It is important to ensure that practicalities such as travel and accommodation are arranged in advance of the internship: please see the accommodation section on this webpage. Should you need to book travel outside of Oxfordshire, it is recommended that you do so in advance, as often cheaper tickets can be found. Colleges may have bursaries available to assist with travel and accommodation costs for work experience, so it’s worth researching this as far in advance as possible. Regarding expenses covered for the Micro-Internship Programme, all hosts must fully reimburse local travel (within the relevant city) and lunch expenses. For-profit organisations in Oxfordshire must reimburse all travel within Oxfordshire for the micro-internship, and for-profit organisations in London must reimburse an Oxford-London week bus pass (approx. £60) if required by the student. All expenses are reimbursed only on submission of receipts.

In terms of preparing for your project and workplace environment, here are a few things to think about before:

  • Enjoy yourself! – have fun during the internship, as five days will pass quickly!
  • Contacting your host – the Internship Office will ‘introduce’ you over email, so make sure you correspond with your host to make arrangements and find out the details you need.
  • Research – employers appreciate knowledge of their organisation, so it’s always best to research the organisation, role and industry sector beforehand. It also means that on the first day you will have less catching up to do.
  • Enthusiasm – be proactive and enthusiastic: a good way to create a positive impression!
  • Location – do you know where you are going and how to get there? (Don’t forget to keep receipts for expenses).
  • Working hours – do you know them?
  • Dress code – smart, casual? Workplaces vary greatly. This is important for making a good first impression!
  • Project details – do you know what to expect when you arrive?
  • Goals – have you discussed with your supervisor what you hope to achieve from the placement?
  • Brush up on any skills – if your project requires certain skills, do they need a bit of practice? This might be useful for a more technical internships (e.g. programming).
  • Questions – do you need to know anything? Don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Update your CV – keep notes of what you have done during the placement and once you have finished the week, update your CV straight away whilst it’s fresh in your mind.

One very important thing to remember when organising your micro-internship: it’s important to ensure that you allow yourself a rest around your internships and academic life during your vacation, to make sure you come back into the next term feeling refreshed and ready to start.

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This information was last updated on 04 September 2018.
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