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Placements and internships are a great opportunity to get experience in the type of career you are interested in.
The terms placement and internship are often used interchangeably, but they are two different things.
A placement is a block of work experience that is embedded within an accredited academic programme of study. They can last for anywhere between a few days and a year.
They can be full time or part time, and because they are an integrated part of an accredited academic course, the organisations are not required to pay you. Some may choose to, however, and Goldsmiths encourages organisations to do so.
An internship is also a block of work experience, but crucially, it is completely separate from your programme of study. They are typically one to three months in length. At Goldsmiths, we only publicise paid, quality opportunities. Unpaid internships are illegal, exploitative, and replace paid jobs.
If your internship is structured, with set hours, duties and responsibilities, then you are fulfilling the role of a worker. If this is the case, your internship is subject to National Minimum Wage legislation. That is, you should be paid for your work.
Internships also aren't volunteering. Many charities and NGOs offer ‘internships’ but on a voluntary basis. These are exempt from National Minimum Wage legislation, but good organisations should pay travel and lunch expenses as an absolute minimum.
Also be aware that internships aren’t ‘work shadowing’ where you follow and observe a professional in a given field to gain an insight into that sector.
If you have any concerns about your rights as an intern or placement student, please contact the Placements & Internships team at email@example.com or on 020 7919 7631.