Business: marketing, advertising, HR, sales, PR, management & operations internships, placements & work experience 2017

Find the best placements, internships, insights and work experience jobs with the biggest companies in the UK with RateMyPlacement.

If you're looking for a career in this broad industry, we've got all you need to know about business, marketing, advertising, HR and more, plus the jobs to apply for!

What do we mean by business?

What business areas can students work in?

The truth is that business covers pretty much everything. The vast majority of jobs can, in some way, be defined as 'business' jobs. When you think of the world of business, you'd be forgiven for thinking of men and women dressed in smart suits and working in huge glass buildings.

However, the reality is that business is a sector that's split up into many subsectors, from advertising and FMCG to public relations and sales. As such, the roles that exist in this industry are extremely diverse.

What are the benefits to students of doing placements and internships?

Competition for graduate business roles is tough, especially if you leave university with no practical work experience. The benefit of undertaking a placement or internship is that you can gain real-world experience while you're still an undergraduate, meaning that when you graduate you'll already have many of the skills that companies are looking for.

"Graduate starting salaries at the UK’s leading graduate employers are expected to increase for the second year running in 2015, reaching a median of £30,000 for the first time." High Fliers (2015)

Not only will this help you stand out when applying for graduate schemes, but some companies offer placement students and interns a place on their graduate programme based on their performance during their work experience.

How will business change in 2017?

It's impossible to predict exactly what will happen, but it seems likely that the business world will become increasingly dominated by companies that connect customers directly to sellers, such as Uber and AirBnB, which don't own their own assets (Uber has no cars and AirBnB has no property).

According to Forbes' Ian Altman, companies will also need to focus on training their employees and making sure that they invest in their development. Also, as more and more people turn to using e-commerce sites like Amazon, this will open up opportunities for all e-commerce companies, both big and small. This is because it will make consumers more open to increasingly buying goods online. Forbes (2015)

Business internships

What are business internships?

A business internship is a set period of time that you will spend with a company, working for it and taking on real business tasks that any other employee would be expected to undertake. As a result, you'll be expected to hit the ground running and get stuck into important business projects from the very first day.

This may seem like a big ask if you're still an undergraduate, but the whole point of work experience like this is to help you develop your business intelligence and learn what you need to do to cope in a professional environment.

Are business internships only based in London?

While London is considered to be a business hub, because it is the largest city in the UK and where many companies have their headquarters, there are still plenty of other opportunities for students around the country.

For example, previous interns have worked for Centrica in Leicester, PwC in Glasgow and even as far as Enterprise Rent-A-Car in California, US. If you want to get an idea of where you can undertake an undergraduate business internship, take a look at our review pages.

These include thousands of authentic, peer-to-peer reviews written by previous business interns, giving you an idea of which companies run the best programmes.

"The aim is to give you an insight into what life is like at the sharp end of business and technology evolution. By the end of the year, you should come away with some valuable skills – and hopefully an offer to join us when you graduate." Accenture (2015)

What 2017 business internships are available?

Undergraduates are spoilt for choice when it comes to business internships in 2017, as there are work experience programmes available with a diverse range of companies and within many different business disciplines.

For example, there are paid opportunities available in roles like financial risk management, logistics, investment consultancy, applied intelligence, operational management and purchasing, among many others.

The advantage of undertaking one of these business internships while still a student is that you'll develop your commercial awareness before you've even graduated, while also being able to challenge yourself and show that you are a motivated, ambitious individual. To see what business roles are currently open to undergraduates, check out our job pages.

Business & marketing summer internships

marketing summer internships

While you're searching for student jobs, you'll find that many are listed as summer internships. As the name suggests, these are work experience programmes that take place during the 'summer' months (or around that time, generally in the middle of the year and between your second and final year at university).

While internships tend to last from as little as a month or up to four months, summer internships often last for somewhere in the middle of this range. For example, a summer internship in operational management might last for eight weeks, while one in applied intelligence may last for 12 weeks. However, regardless of how long each one lasts, every business internship has merit and provides undergraduates with valuable real-world experience.

What is business management?

There are a lot of different aspects involved in business management. For example, management can include everything from working as a management consultant to risk management or managing logistics. This breadth of roles means that, if you're interested in a career in this area, it's worth considering business management internships.

These also exist in a diverse range of companies and disciplines, including the likes of customer management and IT service management, so make sure you do your research to see which kind of role you'd rather work in. Our reviews will offer you a clear idea of what's involved in each type of business internship.

What is business analysis?

Business analysis involves identifying areas of weakness or inefficiency in companies, and then offering or recommending solutions that allow a company to improve how it operates. In this respect it's similar to consultancy, which is when an organisation employs the services of external consultants in order to identify problems and offer solutions.

Business analysts can work with all types of companies, from the biggest to the smallest, whether they are in the private or public sector. If you're interested in working in this area, you would benefit from considering business analyst internships.

On one of these undergraduate programmes, you could benefit from working alongside members of the management team (learning from senior employees), working on a client project and meeting with clients to determine what their requirements are (communication), and analysing business data.

Do employers value business work experience?

Companies place a lot of importance on their work experience programmes, especially now that there's so much competition for graduate jobs. As a result, students who can show that they have gained practical skills and experience are valued much more than those who only have a qualification.

According to The Independent, "figures show that 58 per cent of employers rated work experience as "the most popular qualification among those presented" – with a student's personality coming second" The Independent (2015)

There's no doubt that you're more likely to secure a graduate role if you have previous experience on your CV, whether that's in the form of a placement or internship. In fact, a growing number of employers actually offer places on graduate schemes to undergraduates who've worked for them.

What is the supply chain?

You may have heard the supply chain mentioned before now and be wondering what on Earth it means. Essentially, the supply chain refers to the process of getting products from suppliers to customers.

There are lots of different stages involved in this process, including predicting demand, organising transportation and logistics, arranging storage and making sure that the whole 'chain' flows smoothly. Otherwise it could lead to product shortages and lots of lost revenue, so it's no surprise that companies place a large emphasis on getting it right.

If you're interested in a career working in the supply chain, it's a good idea to research supply chain internships, or operations internships. Why? Simply because, depending on the programme, you could benefit from being involved in liaising with international factories to predict product availability, identifying any potential delivery issues, working with other key departments like marketing to know when product releases and promotions are taking place, and creating stock reports.

View business internships

Business placements

What are business placements?

Business placements are extended periods of time that undergraduates spend working for a company, as opposed to business internships which, as described above, generally last for between eight and 12 weeks.

Placements, or placement years, can last for up to nine or 12 months, and generally form part of a four-year university degree course (slotting in between the second and fourth (final) year). The advantage of undertaking one of these longer work experience programmes is that, evidently, you get more time working for a company and therefore more of a chance to work on important projects and develop your skills.

Roles that previous business placement students have worked in include technology marketing, analysis, a commercial department, business restructuring, e-business and management training. To take a look at our thousands of other student-written reviews, take a look at our review pages here.

Business management placements: what can you do?

Lots of business management placements will allow you to become involved in important business tasks that will prepare you for a life in a certain industry, if you choose to go into it after you graduate.

For instance, depending on the role you get involved in, you may be asked to gather and analyse data, work as part of the supply chain, meet with clients and report to senior team members, run a branch of the company (mainly in terms of retail), deal with customer issues or work as part of the insolvency and restructuring team. Put simply, you'll have plenty to keep you occupied.

View business placements

Business top employers

Who are the best undergraduate employers for business?

Every year RateMyPlacement lists the Top 100 Undergraduate Employers – these are the companies that offer the very best work experience jobs for students, based entirely on student-written reviews.

"The most generous salaries in 2015 are those on offer from investment banks (median of £45,000), law firms (median of £40,000), banking & finance firms (median of £36,500) and oil & energy companies (median of £32,500)." High Fliers (2015)

Many of these companies offer what could be called 'business' roles, so we've listed the top companies for each industry. You can see the full table here.

  • Accountancy & finance – Deloitte
  • Advertising & marketing – Warner Bros
  • Banking – Bank of America Merrill Lynch
  • FMCG – Lidl
  • Hospitality, leisure, travel & tourism – Enterprise Rent-A-Car
  • Investment Management – M&G Investments

What business areas do employers offer internships in?

Many of the companies that make up the Top 100 Undergraduate Employers operate internationally, employing thousands of people across a wide range of business disciplines. As such, they recruit candidates for a wide range of roles and departments, including:

  • Auditing
  • Compliance
  • Financial advice
  • Investment banking
  • IT
  • Merchandising
  • Research
  • Risk advice
  • Sales & trading
  • Tax consultancy

Business reviews

How to find the best business employers?

There are hundreds of companies out there that offer placements and internships for undergraduates, so it can be confusing when you're searching and trying to find the best company for you. That's why we exist, to help you find the very best work experience programmes.

As well as checking out our Top 100 Undergraduate Employers table, to see which companies received the most positive reviews from students, you can also check out our review pages too.

There we list more than 37,000 authentic and trustworthy reviews for a huge number of work experience providers across a huge number of business areas, so if you want to know what a particular company is like to work for, you can find out there. To make it even easier, you can also split up your review search by the programme type, industry and location.

Marketing internships & placements

What is marketing?

Marketing teams do their best to promote the company that they work for, which means making sure that the brand is recognisable, trusted and communicates effectively with all of its stakeholders.

There are lots of different slices that come together to make up the marketing pie, which include coming up with new, fresh ideas, working out how to best 'angle' the brand, ensuring the design conveys the brand's purpose and personality, measuring the effectiveness of the company's communications and also researching the market through surveys and focus groups.

Can you do marketing internships?

As the vast majority of companies have some kind of marketing department, ranging from a few people to teams of 30 or more, you'll be able to find plenty of marketing internship opportunities – including one with us.

Why should you do a marketing summer internship?

There are many good reasons why you should become a marketing intern if you're interested in working in a similar career in the future. For a start, you'll more than likely be able to get stuck into a wide variety of tasks, as marketing moves very quickly and there's often a lot of seasonal activity.

A typical day could include working with external suppliers, writing social media posts, creating videos, organising events, distributing guides and leaflets and attending events, to name just a few of the things that marketers do. You'll also get the chance to make a big difference to the company's marketing activities and leave your mark on the company.

Sports marketing internships & placements

If you're a sports fanatic and also interested in a career in marketing, then guess what – you can combine the two and work in sports marketing. There are lots of sports marketing internships and opportunities around for undergraduates, so make sure you spend time researching different roles and seeing what companies are out there.

As sports marketing is a very popular and competitive area, it's those students who go the extra mile and gain all the practical experience that they can get their hands on who go the furthest. Many companies that operate in this sector have international reach, so on a sports marketing internship you may well find yourself working with departments and teams in other countries.

Not only will you gain great practical experience for your CV, but in many cases you'll also get to try your hand at working in different departments, such as e-commerce, product development, R&D, sales, retail and the supply chain.

View sports marketing internships & placements

"During your internship, you'll gain valuable experience and detailed insight into the sporting goods industry. Discover your strengths, expand your skills, and help us shape a better future for sport." Adidas (2015)

Digital marketing internships & placements

digital marketing internships

Many companies have now expanded their marketing teams in order to include digital elements and people with digital experience and expertise, as the importance of online marketing grows and competes with traditional offline marketing. As a result, lots of employers take on digital marketing interns.

The advantage of working in digital marketing is that you're not just gaining marketing skills, but you're also developing your technical and digital skills at the same time. Many digital marketing internships exist in e-commerce businesses and agencies. On one of these programmes, you can expect to be involved in a range of activities, from running online marketing campaigns and planning marketing events to communicating with external agencies and reporting on campaign performance.

View digital marketing internships & placements

Fashion marketing internships & placements

Much like sports, there are plenty of students who are interested in working in the fashion industry and studying a relevant degree. Luckily, there are also plenty of companies who offer fashion marketing internships. In many ways, as more and more companies like ASOS take their business online only, many of these opportunities could be defined as digital fashion marketing work experience.

You'll be expected to show a real interest in the sector and passion for both fashion and marketing, as well as a desire to challenge yourself and push for innovation. As a fashion marketing intern, it's unlikely that you'll be confined to just working in the marketing team. You may also get a chance to try out other departments, like buying, merchandising, garment technology and finance.

View fashion marketing internships & placements

What will you do on a marketing placement?

As successful marketing is based on having an overall understanding of the company that you're working for, many marketing placements encourage their students to get involved in different projects.

Not only will you be involved in 'standard' marketing activities, like managing web content, writing and creating emails and blogs, working on social media, organising events and working with suppliers, but you may also get to try your hand at working in other teams, like digital, account management, sales and human resources (HR).

As well as the day-to-day work, many employers also place importance on supporting and training their employees, whether this is through mentoring schemes or bringing in external trainers.

Market research internships & placements

Market research is valued highly by many companies, especially those in commercial and business-to-business (b2b) industries and those that decide public policy, as it offers a real insight into the state of society and what people are thinking. If you think you'd be interested in working in this area, you'll be pleased to know that there are companies who take on market research interns.

On one of these work experience programmes, you'll be expected to contribute towards real studies and projects, by assisting senior team members and carrying out qualitative and quantitative research. In many cases, gaining market experience in this sector as an undergraduate will give you a great chance to pursue a market research career.

View market research internships & placements

"Our philosophy is that an internship should benefit both the intern and the company, and that the best means to achieve that end is to give our interns real experience of real research projects for real clients." DJS Research (2015)

Advertising internships & placements

What are the advantages of advertising internships?

advertising internships

The advertising industry is very competitive, as many graduates compete for a relatively small number of advertising graduate schemes and entry-level positions each year. This doesn't mean it's impossible for students to break into the industry, but what it does mean is that it's really important to get as much real-world experience as you can while you're still an undergraduate.

Thankfully, many advertising agencies do offer work experience and advertising internships, allowing you to join their creative or account management teams for a period of time in order to see what the work is like.

Undertaking an advertising internship is not just beneficial to your professional development, but it also allows you to get some live work for your portfolio and build a network of contacts at the same time.

What will you do on advertising work experience?

On advertising work experience, whether it lasts for a few weeks or a few months, you'll be able to get stuck into real projects from day one. If you're part of a creative team (i.e. the people who come up with concepts and adverts), you could be doing anything and everything from brainstorming ideas and writing scripts to creating social media campaigns and presenting your concepts to colleagues.

If you're part of the accounts team (i.e. the people who speak to clients), you're more likely to be in meetings with clients, writing project briefs and working alongside the creative team to make sure work is delivered on time and matches the client's needs.

Should you do an advertising placement?

The answer – if you're keen on a career in this sector – is definitely yes. This isn't just because it's really beneficial to get as much experience (and work for your portfolio) as you can before you graduate from university, but also because (in many ways) it's expected that students will have experience before landing a full-time job.

Many employers will look at your CV and want to see previous placements on there, to show that you're not completely inexperienced and won't be a liability. If you haven't got advertising work experience of any kind, you'll find it hard to enter to sector (especially as many other people will have experience).

View advertising internships & placements

Public relations (PR) internships & placements

PR internships

What is public relations (PR)?

The PR industry is based around helping individuals and companies to promote themselves effectively, in order to improve their reputations (as well as their brand awareness). The Chartered Institute of Public Relations states that "effective PR can help manage the reputation by communicating and building good relationships with all organisation stakeholders." CIPR (2015)

Why should you do PR internships?

The world of PR is competitive and not for the fainthearted. But if you have the following qualities:

  • a keen interest in current affairs, trends and the world around you
  • good communication skills
  • the ability to work with different people
  • a strong writing technique
  • good organisation and time management skills
  • calmness under pressure and the ability to work independently
  • a knack for spotting and solving problems
  • the ability to build relationships

Then you may have what it takes to succeed in the PR world. But if you want to dip your toe in before diving headfirst into a public relations career, why not try out a PR internship beforehand?

What do public relations internships involve?

On a public relations internship, you'll be able to learn first-hand about the world of communications. You'll get to experience every part of the PR process, from researching and writing stories and press releases to pitching ideas and organising events alongside senior team members.

By working with experienced PR professionals, you'll also be able to develop your skills and learn from the best. Depending on who you work for, you may also be able to specialise in a particular niche area, like technology, healthcare and branding.

How to find PR work experience?

If you're looking for PR placements or internships, then you're on the right site. We regularly advertise work experience jobs for undergraduates at major companies like Walt Disney, Vauxhall, Renault and Panasonic. You can see our live PR jobs here. If you're interested in seeing which companies offer the best public relations experience, or doing some more research into student jobs in the sector, you should check out our review pages. We have hundreds of reviews written by previous PR interns, so it's worth a look.

What are PR placements?

PR placements are extended periods of work experience that university students can spend working for a company. On one of these programmes, you'll get a great introduction to the world of public relations and communications.

Fashion PR internships

On a fashion PR internship, it's likely that you'll be assisting the public relations department with press requests, meeting with editors and stylists to arrange events, supporting relationships between key stakeholders and helping the brand to increase its awareness. Becoming a fashion PR intern is a great way to learn about the industry, as well as the role and what's expected.

View PR internships & placements

Human resources (HR) internships & placements

What is HR?

HR internships

Human resources is a term that gets thrown around a lot, often without a lot of explanation about what it actually is. Put simply, HR professionals are needed by every company, from the smallest to the largest, as they look after many essential business tasks. This could involve working with managers to decide on the company's hiring strategy, to organising team events, to arranging training and carrying out interviews.

What are HR internships?

Human resources internships are a great way to experience what it's like to work as part of a company's HR department and what's required to be successful in this career. For example, on an HR internship for a large, multinational company, you'll be handed real responsibility in order to add value. This could entail improving the working environment for existing employees and making sure they're motivated, to supporting to recruitment team and bringing in candidates who can help the company grow and thrive.

What are the benefits of doing HR internships?

As an undergraduate or HR intern, you'll benefit from developing your managerial skills – not just when it comes to managing your own time and workload, but also when it comes to managing others and getting the best out of them.

Which companies offer human resources internships?

HR is one of those departments that every business needs, so the answer is – virtually all companies. To see whether this career is right for you before you graduate, it's definitely a good idea to undertake HR work experience while you're still at university. Of course, the HR needs of each company varies, so you might want to undertake experience with a few companies (both large and small) to get an idea of which type of company you'd like to work for. We advertise HR placements and internships on our job pages, so take a look to see what's available.

What are HR placements?

An HR placement can last for up to 12 months, therefore offering you a very detailed insight into the role and the sector.

"Mentored by HR professionals every step of the way, you'll gain an understanding of everything from employee relations, talent management and leadership development to reward and employee engagement. You'll be a true part of the team; getting involved in challenging projects and testing your abilities as you develop a host of new skills." Rolls-Royce (2015)

View HR internships & placements

Sales internships & placements

What do sales people do?

Sadly, there are no prizes for guessing what sales people do – they sell stuff. In many companies (particularly ones that sell online services, such as online advertisements or software as a service (SaaS), among other services), these employees have become known as business developers, or business development teams. As Forbes puts it, "business development is the creation of long-term value for an organization from customers, markets, and relationships." Forbes (2015)

Can you do a sales placement?

Many companies offer students the chance to get involved in sales placements. A lot of sales roles aren't purely about 'sales' though, as strange as that sounds. In fact, lots of sales placements cross over with other key business areas, like analysis, finance or marketing. On sales work experience, you'll probably be tasked with speaking with the company's existing clients and managing relationships, as well as managing your own sales project and suggesting sales leads (e.g. new business clients).

Should you do sales internships?

If you want to get a taste of what working in a sales environment is like, and therefore find out whether it's the right career for you, it's a good idea to complete a sales internship while you're still an undergraduate. You'll also be able to develop important skills, such as good communication and the ability to build relationships (which is crucial in sales and business development).

What skills do you need to succeed in sales?

Sales is one of the most competitive career paths you can follow, so there are some skills and traits that you absolutely must have in order to succeed. These include:

  • Listening – clients like being offered solutions that match their needs, so you have to be able to listen to what they want before offering a service
  • Managing relationships – senior sales people have to manage countless clients and spend time building and maintaining relationships in order to be successful
  • Having the right attitude – in sales you need confidence, without straying into arrogance
  • Resilience – this career is all about targets, so if you miss out on something, you have to get back up and try again
  • Research – to sell effectively, you have to know what it is you're selling, the market you're selling it in and who you're selling it to. How are you going to know this without researching?

These are only a few of the skills that sales people need, so make sure you do your research on what's expected.

View sales internships & placements

Project management internships & placements

What is project management?

People who work in project management oversee key projects that are important to the company's success, as well as managing other team members and ensuring that everyone is working towards the same end goal.

What will you learn on project management internships?

The work you'll be doing on a project management internship does largely depend on what the company does and what sector it operates in, but broadly-speaking project managers typically develop and plan strategies, offer reports to stakeholders, attend company-wide strategy meetings, motivate their team members and manage budgets.

View project management internships & placements

Read about Business work experience on our blog

What is it like working in public affairs and communications?

What’s it like working in the fast-paced world of public affairs, government relations and strategic communications industry on a placement or internship? Well who better to ask than the student who won the NUE Award for Best Student Contribution to a Small or Medium-sized Enterprise?

Read blog post

PwC’s guide to improving your employability

Find out how the experiences that you may have gained, perhaps working in a restaurant, bar or shop, or from your involvement in sport, or a club society, have developed the employability skills we look for.

Read blog post

Where can you find student jobs?

If want to open the door to your future business career, it's a great idea to undertake a placement or internship and gain some real business experience. Here at RateMyPlacement we advertise hundreds of fantastic work experience opportunities at great companies, so don't miss out. Take a look now to see what student jobs are available and how to apply.

If you want to get the very latest undergraduate work experience roles straight to your inbox, sign up with us and create a RateMyPlacement account.