Applicants will be expected to have work experience, and this will often take the form of some volunteering experience or an internship.
Voluntary work during term-time, in vacations or in a year out provides invaluable experience.
- Oxford Hub is the focal point for students interested in charitable and development-related activity at Oxford and advertises volunteering opportunities. Sign up for ‘The Week’ to get a regular email advertising new opportunities, or fill in their volunteering form online to be contacted with volunteering ideas relating to your areas of interest.
- Oxfordshire Community and Voluntary Action is the main umbrella organisation for the voluntary and community sector in Oxfordshire. The Volunteer Centre (Oxford) is accredited by the National Council for Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) as a volunteer bureau, and you can drop in to talk about opportunities.
- Volunteering Matters offers a range of voluntary opportunities.
- Do-it is a searchable database of volunteering opportunities.
- Vinspired connects 14-25-year-olds with volunteering opportunities.
- TimeBank is a national charity inspiring and connecting people to volunteer in their communities, and enabling charitable organisations and businesses to develop innovative and effective volunteer recruitment programmes. On their website, you can ask a question about volunteering, read inspiring stories or register to do voluntary work.
Other ways of getting insight into the sector and experience is to become a trustee on a Charity’s Executive Board. Research such opportunities through organisations like ‘Getting on Board‘. You can register for free webinars if you are aged between 18 and 30years old through Getting on Board Future Trustees Programme to find out what is involved in becoming a trustee and help you to decide if you would like to become a charity trustee.
Some charities offer structured internships, including Amnesty International, Barnado’s, the British Council, NSPCC, the British Red Cross, Cancer Research UK, Christian Aid and Oxfam. The majority are on an expenses-only basis. Many charities are sensitive to the fact that unpaid internships may exclude some from participating. They may be willing to reduce the duration of an internship to allow the intern to take other paid work, changing the role to ‘working from home’, and may be able to help with accommodation. The Careers Service Internship Office also has a variety of Micro internships and Summer Internships based in the charity sector. Sign up for our Internship Email alerts.
Change 100 is an internship and development programme for students and graduates who have a disability or long term health condition run by the charity Leonard Cheshire.
Internships and summer jobs are governed in the UK by National Minimum Wage law which means that if you are carrying out activities that class you as a 'worker' by the employer, then you should be paid. Full details of Employment Rights and Pay for Interns are published by the Government.
If you are undertaking a learning and devlopment oppotrunity such as a micro-internship, or volunteering with acharity or statutory body, or shadowing or observing, then you may not be eligible for the National Minimum wage. The organisation may reimburse you for travel and/or lunch expenses, but they are not obliged to do so.
Internship schemes at Oxford:
- Our Internship Programme opens for applications from Hilary Term. Internships are sourced from organisations in the UK and around the world, including many charities. Most charity places are funded through grants, and applicants choose which specific internships to apply to. We also offer Micro-Internships which are 2-5day placements every vacation.
- Oxford Hub’s Social Impact Internship Scheme usually opens for applications each year in November, and typically closes in January/February (can vary year on year). Summer interns are placed in a wide range of organisations usually for 6-8 weeks. Organisations participating are matched up with intern applicants; the organisations are encouraged to pay their interns wherever possible, but some can only offer volunteering or a small stipend. The scheme includes training sessions.
Finding individual internship opportunities
Use the same strategies for ‘getting a job’ to find internships, simply filtering for this as a category on job boards, and focusing on this in speculative approaches.
You might also want to consider offering your services for a specific project that you feel might benefit a charity you’re passionate about. There are good examples of Oxford students who have approached organisations to offer a self-initiated project, on the premise that the charity will give you feedback, and perhaps a reference based on your work (which they can use or not use, based on the outcome). Examples include:
- Offering to create videos for use on the charity’s website
- Offering to analyse the potential use of a social media platform
- Offering to create a student-engagement or fundraising campaign