Internship Best Practice - Employer Information

At the University of Oxford, our objective is to ensure that all professional internships facilitated through our Internship Office are high quality, and offer our students opportunities to develop skills and gain experience to help their transition from education to work. We want all internship applicants to feel confident that their internship experience will be the best they can expect and of a good standard, regardless of job function, sector and country.

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1. Remuneration

 In the UK, we expect private sector employers to abide by wage legislation, and we recommend that internship providers cover UK National Living Wage for interns. The UK Government webpages have a useful guide to an intern's legal status when it comes to pay. As the University of Oxford is a Living Wage Employer, colleges and departments offering internships must pay national living wage or above. International internship hosts will have to comply with local employment legislation; they should also provide remuneration similar to equivalent entry level roles within the industry.

Where appropriate, hosts are expected to provide good quality internships that are remunerated correctly for the work they expect interns to undertake.

Please see the Careers Service policy on unpaid opportunities for further details.

Internship Office Policy on Voluntary Development and Learning Opportunities

Students undertaking a learning and development opportunity like a micro-internship, volunteering for a charity or statutory body, or work-shadowing, may not be eligible for the National Living Wage. The organisation may provide reimbursement for travel and/or lunch expenses, but they aren’t obliged to do so.

Through the Micro-Internship Programme, the Internship Office facilitates voluntary development and learning opportunities 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 least at the National Living Wage or above for this separate arrangement; the UK Government webpages provided useful information on wage policy and employment rights for interns.

2. Offer & Contract

Internship hosts should:

  • Offer a clear description of the projects and tasks that the intern is expected to perform. If they have to be revised subsequently, it should be in agreement with the intern.

3. Learning & Content

As far as reasonably practicable, internship hosts should:

  • Indicate what skills the intern could acquire during their internship
  • Assign challenging tasks and projects with a high degree of responsibility
  • Make sure that the intern is provided with formal and informal training so that they are able to undertake the projects and tasks to which they are assigned
  • Limit the assignment of unskilled tasks

4. Supervision

Internship hosts should:

  • Assign a supervisor to each intern, with a ratio not exceeding 3 interns to 1 supervisor
  • Organise an introductory meeting with the intern to discuss mutual expectations, as well as learning and professional objectives of the internship
  • Organise regular sessions at least once a week where the supervisor tracks the intern’s progress, gives feedback or provides support
  • Structure the intern’s tasks within a work plan & a timeline (which can be revised with the intern)

5. Organisation Culture & Work Environment

Internship hosts should:

  • Regardless if this is an in-person or remote-working internship, schedule some time to introduce the intern to colleagues and the new work place including facilities and health and safety procedures; explain the organisation’s objectives and values
  • Acknowledge and value the intern’s contribution and achievements (e.g., public acknowledgement, name on publication, bonuses etc.)
  • Provide each intern with an appropriate work station (desk, computer, software, etc.)
  • Make the intern feel part of the team (include them in team building activities and celebrations)
  • All interns should feel comfortable to fully express their religion as well as practices and beliefs at work
  • Social and cultural events that are organised for interns should be accessible to all interns regardless of disability, gender, race, religion or belief, or sexual orientation
  • Hosts should promote inclusivity at events and social gatherings by offering non-alcoholic beverages
  • Hosts are encouraged to support and help to provide arrangements for religious observances, such as prayer times, where possible

6. Career Development & Employment

  • Provide the intern with a reference letter detailing the work undertaken/completed, the skills and experience acquired
  • Organise one or more meetings between the intern and the management of the organisation to discuss their future career prospects and potential support
  • Help the intern develop a strong professional network by fostering their participation in meetings, interactions and projects with clients & partners, as well as networking events

7. Practical Help

Supporting interns is particularly important when they are not native to your country or city. If you can provide advice on finding accommodation, travelling around, and medical or safety issues that might arise, this is greatly appreciated by students. What’s more, helping interns to settle in increases the likelihood of the internship succeeding, as interns will inevitably feel more confident. Some hosts provide accommodation as part of the remuneration package, others simply sign post students to cheap, good quality and safe accommodation.  Also, if the intern requires a visa to work in your country they will undoubtedly turn to you for guidance. It is also useful to put together an induction pack that you can distribute to interns as soon as they have been selected so they can get on and arrange all the logistics with your guidance.  Induction material could include:

  • Contact details of key members of staff
  • Organisation chart
  • Health and safety information
  • Practical information on the working environment and facilities
  • Working arrangements related to office dress code, time, location, and patterns of flexible working
  • Organisation's culture and value
  • Local culture and places of interest
  • Overview of local issues such as crime, scams that students should be aware of   



Internships come in all shapes and sizes.  They can be as short as one week or as long as three months.  They could involve working in international finance companies in Japan, teaching children in Thailand, developing sustainable projects in Brazil, or designing education projects for Oxford-based charities. While all these internships may seem very different, good projects share some common elements:

Challenging and engaging– the very best internship projects enable interns to get really involved. The more demanding the project, the more students will invest themselves in the professional or research experience. Oxford students also love to use their own initiative and apply their intellectual knowledge and creativity, so do ask them to suggest how projects can be developed.

Genuine contribution – the best internships allow students to feel they are making a positive contribution to the organisation. A key question all organisations should ask is whether the work you are asking the intern to undertake is a valuable and useful contribution to the organisation.  Are there tangible outcomes? It’s helpful to remember that internships are much more than simply work experience.

Learning and development opportunity – a good internship project offers interns the opportunity to learn professional/transferrable skills, and allows for personal development. Good internships offer students the opportunity to improve the following skills:

  • Business Awareness
  • Communication
  • Creativity
  • Initiative
  • Leadership
  • Planning
  • Self-Management
  • Teamwork

More information can be found at

Duration – students accomplish a lot during an internship, even if the timeframe is short. The question to ask is whether the duration is suitable for the project in question. 4-8 week internships are probably the most popular.

Over the years we have seen many interns successfully complete projects whilst working remotely, usually because face-to-face contact wasn’t required for the completion of a particular project. But now online working has become the norm and many of us are adjusting to new ways of communicating with colleagues, completing projects and maintaining our professional lives. We are hoping that for many organisations, the use of a remote intern would still be helpful, and we have guidance on how to set up a remote working opportunity specifically for them.

Health and Safety for Managing a Remote Internship
Managing an intern is a rewarding experience, an opportunity to get talent into your organisation and benefit from a new perspective on your work. Managing your intern remotely will be different to having them in the office with you, here are some tips to help you and your intern have a successful internship.

Before they start:
Sort out the practicalities before they start so they can make a smooth start to their internship.
• Carry out health and safety checks with them. You can then get any necessary adjustments or equipment in place before they start. The government has a useful guide including a home workstation checklist, please click here to view.
• Ensure your intern has the equipment they need (if you are happy for them to use their personal laptop (please ensure you have agreed this with the intern prior to placement starting) and arrange access to bespoke or licenced software and have any log-in details they need.
• Make the intern aware of any organisation guidance on working remotely.
• Ask them if they might face any barriers to working remotely? Are they based in a different time zone? Do they have caring responsibilities? Ensure they know what you can work around and what won’t be possible.
• Ensure you have invited them to the introductory call before the placement begins to discuss work patterns and the project which they will undertake.

Plan an induction for your intern if necessary. Create a check list you can go through with them; this creates an opportunity for the intern to bring up any potential problems or difficulties that can be ironed out at an early stage.
It could include:
• Health and Safety checks
• Access to systems and software required
• A contact list and instructions on setting up meetings
• Email works OK
• Learn the communications tools you use.
• Training they need to complete How they will manage their well-being
• Processes for leave and illness

Setting clear objectives for the project and the intern's development are essential, when working remotely these become critically important. Using the SMART method will ensure clarity. This also gives you an opportunity to have a discussion on setting expectations, for you and the Intern.

Embedding Organisation Culture:
If there is no opportunity to physically introduce your intern to the team or place of work, it is going to be challenging to embed company and team culture with your intern. While working as an intern we are looking for them to shift their mindset from student to employee. This is essential to ensure
the students are having a workplace learning experience, rather than an extension of their academic studies. What can you do to help this?
• Think about assigning them more than one buddy.
• Arrange for colleagues not working directly with the intern to introduce themselves and discuss their role – this is helpful for the intern’s career learning and to build up their network.
• Explain your organisation values, aims and objectives and how they and the project they are working on contribute to this.
• Encourage your intern to set up their own meetings with colleagues.
• Include them in any virtual socialising your company is doing e.g. virtual coffee, film or book clubs, Friday drinks.
• Ensure they are on the staff email distribution list.

Building up a rapport and ensuring that trust is built between you and the intern is necessary when working remotely as they will be working independently in a different environment to you.
Decide on how you will communicate, video calls can be good to build relationships as you can see body language and get to know someone a bit better. A daily check-in from supervisors – a quick email, call is advisable.

Time keeping and self-management:
These are key skills that interns tell us they want to develop through their internship and essential for working remotely. Knowing about barriers in their home working environment will help with your expectations.
The intern is learning to work, these are helpful conversations to have with them. Be clear on deadlines and when you want them to communicate with you, especially if they are ahead or behind schedule.

Skills Development:
Discussing with your intern the skills they are developing will enrich their experience and help them to evaluate their skills. These are a few they may be developing:
• Communication
• Building an online network
• Demonstrating initiative
• Managing their time and workload
• Managing up and setting expectations (communicating challenges and success with you)
• Resilience
• Self-management
• Adaptability/flexibility

Encourage Reflection:
• What are they observing about your place of work?
• What do they think about the leadership demonstrated by businesses in your field?
• How do they feel about being a remote worker?
• How bonded do they feel to the team? Can you help with this?
• Have they made the adjustment from student to worker?

If you would like to discuss whether a project is suitable as a remote working placement, you can discuss your needs with the Internship Office by emailing us at

What types of projects are suitable for working at home?

A suitable remote internship would be one that does not require the intern to be physically present at the organisation in order to successfully complete the project. For example, if the project could only be completed within a laboratory, then the project would not be suitable for a remote working internship. However, if the work is not reliant on a particular location and working remotely will not negatively impact the project, then a remote internship could be suitable as long as it meets our standard programme requirements. If part of your project can be completed remotely, we encourage you to consider if the other part is vital to the success of the internship. If it is not, and the intern would still get some work experience, you are welcome to offer a relatively short experience, anything from a few days to a few weeks.

Differing time zones

Oxford is an international university with students coming from all around the world. We also work with many organisations that offer internships globally. Whilst working remotely, it is possible therefore that the student and the employer might be in different time zones. With this in mind, we suggest that a working day starts within 2-3 hours of the employer’s working day. Therefore, when advertising a remote internship, please include your time zone and working hours, so that the student can make an informed decision as to if they can apply.

How do I submit a remote internship?

As always, submitting a project will be done via our online platform, CareerConnect. Additionally, we will continue to advertise the internships, collate all applications and send them over to the employer in the same way as we have done previously.

Selection process

We encourage all hosts to undertake their interviews with their interns by telephone or via videoconference apps such as Skype, Zoom or Microsoft Teams.

Remote internship case studies

Oxford Scholastica Academy

What tasks did you get the interns to undertake remotely and how successful were they?


We hosted six interns, who had two tasks: during the first half of the week, they focused on content creation and blog writing; in the second half of the week, they were tasked with researching and designing a brand new online course product for our Oxford summer school venture. They conducted market research, and, in teams, put together an operational and marketing strategy. This strategy is being implemented this week - so they were very successful! We were very impressed at all the interns' dedication, flexibility, and strategic insights.


How did you go about supervising your interns remotely, were there methods that we more successful than others?


We hosted daily, sometimes twice daily, Zoom video conferences in order for them to present their work, ask any questions, and receive their next brief. The interns also set up a group chat together in order to collaborate on the projects.


What was your lasting impression of hosting an intern remotely and do you have any tips for employers on hosting remote internships?


This internship was not originally intended to be remote, but had to be made so given the extraordinary circumstances. I think something is lost in the lack of in-person contact, but the quality of the interns' work has been as high as or higher than I would have expected for an in-person internship. I would recommend hosting a group of interns rather than just one as they have been able to collaborate very well and keep each other company during what might otherwise have been a less stimulating experience.


Quill Project

What tasks did you get the interns to undertake remotely and how successful were they?


The aim for the internships was to explore the application of the Quill technology and approach to modern Parliamentary process in the UK by modelling the passage of the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2019 and the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Act 2020.


How did you go about supervising your interns remotely, were there methods that we more successful than others?


One of the innovative features of the project has been the creation of a digital environment in which undergraduate students are able to collaborate with each other and academic mentors on substantive research questions and the production of a digital edition, and we were able to capitalise on this technology to allow interns access to the Quill digital platform remotely. The Digital Curator had already prepared a training manual for their use, and at the beginning of the week, she ran an induction seminar via Zoom to give everyone a chance to introduce themselves and to demonstrate how to model legislation in the platform.


What was your lasting impression of hosting an intern remotely and do you have any tips for employers on hosting remote internships?


One aspect of remote internships which concerned us was how to develop relationships and generate a sense of camaraderie. We had two teams of three interns, with each team allocated to one of the Acts we were modelling that week. Each team also had their own Mattermost chatroom to communicate with each other and plan their work. Members of the Quill team had access to both chatrooms and were able to troubleshoot and answer questions as they came up. Once a day, the students would check in with the Digital Curator and sometimes other members of Quill over Zoom. At the end of the week, we were very happy with what had been achieved. Further modelling and corrections by the Quill team will be necessary before the models go live, but considerable progress was made. Feedback from the group was also very positive, with three interns volunteering to join a project to model the Covid-19 bill during their self-isolation and another expressing interest in a one-year trainee position we are currently advertising.  

University of Oxford and the National Trust

What tasks did you get the interns to undertake remotely and how successful were they?


A group of six interns undertook individual research projects on different National Trust properties to support the National Trust's 2021 public programme. The interns were each given a historic site and a list of key research questions which they answered by consulting a wide range of online archives and resources - from census records and historic newspapers to digitised books and journal articles. Each intern then created a detailed report which have been shared with National Trust property teams and curators. The interns were brilliant throughout the week and have submitted excellent reports


How did you go about supervising your interns remotely, were there methods that we more successful than others?


We held three group videoconferences with the interns throughout the week to provide an opportunity for them to ask questions about the project, explore the themes, share tips and useful sources, and for general questions about careers in the heritage sector. We held a longer session on the Friday afternoon (1.5hrs) where each intern presented their key findings and reflections. We used Microsoft Teams for the calls which worked much better than Skype, especially for the students with issues around internet and VPN access abroad. We had a slight challenge with time zone differences (one student was in Dubai, one in China) but managed to schedule the calls at a time that everyone could join in.


What was your lasting impression of hosting an intern remotely and do you have any tips for employers on hosting remote internships?


I was really impressed by the interns' enthusiasm and the quality of work they produced despite the lack access to resources, the need for remote working and their geographical spread around the world and across time zones. They all contributed brilliantly to the group discussions via videoconference, and have produced excellent written reports which will inform future National Trust work. I'm very much looking forward to hosting another remote micro-internship next term. My top tips for hosting a remote placement are: Make sure you have a very clear brief and deliverable(s) shared with the interns ahead of the placement, and schedule regular group catchups which provide lots of time for questions as well as wider discussion. To view other projects that have been completed as remote internships in the past visit our website.


Gold Standard Internship Host Award

Employers on our internship programmes are eligible to receive the Gold Standard Internship Host Award. Each year the Internship Office officially recognises the excellent internship experience our partners provide to Oxford students through the Summer, Micro and Crankstart Internship Programmes.  The award is assessed on the following criteria:  

  • Overall quality of feedback from interns 
  • Consistency of internship provision 
  • Level of responsiveness to communication from students and the Internship Office
  • Responsiveness to constructive feedback 
  • Commitment to the Internship Office programmes, participating for a minimum of 3 consecutive years for the Summer Internship Programme, or 3 terms for the Micro and Crankstart Programme.

Employers who receive the award are considered first for any potential funding opportunities (if eligible) and receive a gold standard internship partner logo.

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