I've been trying to think of a good British English term for a summer job, the equivalent of American English Internship.

I'm sure that when I've worked with students my company had hired over the summer holidays, we used to the the term studentship, but researching a little further this seems to more correctly apply to a PhD scholarship in British English parlance.

I'm not specifically looking for a term which has connotations of either paid or unpaid work, but if the term has one of those connotations it would be useful for it to be mentioned.

Incidentally, it was my understanding that in American English, internship implied unpaid, but could nevertheless be qualified with either paid or unpaid. As @Martha points out however, it seems that limited duration is a more appropriate qualifier for the word.


7 Answers 7


We seem to have adopted the term "intern". Certainly that's what my (small) British company is using to refer to both the student we have with us for a week's work experience and the older students in for summer jobs.

  • 1
    @Mark There are many unpaid internships in the UK.
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:24
  • @Mark Charities often use them. If you wanted a career, say at Oxfam, it's a common first step, but it is said to disadvantage poorer graduates who cannot afford to take unpaid work. Some adverts here are for unpaid internships: graduatetalentpoolsearch.direct.gov.uk/casa/servlet/…
    – z7sg Ѫ
    Jul 5, 2011 at 20:29
  • +1 Since I'm going to just have to accept that intern is more widely used in the UK than I had assumed.
    – Mark Booth
    Jul 5, 2011 at 21:48

An alternative term in British English is work placement.

Many larger organisations advertise formal placements or ‘internships’ at different times of the year. These tend to involve working full-time for a fixed period, usually six to twelve weeks - but they’re often timed to fit in with university and college holidays.

  • Work experience is probably more common - possibly only in industrial type jobs rather than IT
    – mgb
    Jul 5, 2011 at 3:30
  • 3
    Work experience usually applies to school-leavers; at undergraduate / graduate level, work placement seems more appropriate.
    – njd
    Jul 5, 2011 at 10:25
  • We commonly have schoolchildren (not school-leavers) with us for (usually one week's) work experience - there are two sitting near me right now. I would say work placement for the question.
    – Colin Fine
    Jul 5, 2011 at 14:45

Intern seems to be accepted here to refer to paid summer work, especially in international organisations (for example, I was an intern at Lehman Brothers in London).

In IT, "summer student" used to be a common job title.

In law, where placements are usually for two weeks, "vac student" seems to be the norm.


Internship is now widely used in the UK. Personally, I prefer / would use:

  • Slave labour
  • Business Cost-saving unit
  • Employee replacement

In terms of summer job, I think there are several:

Seasonal work
Seasonal job

But I still think that the best would be:

Summer Job

Nothing wrong with summer job I think.

  • 1
    "summer Job" is just fine. I think "Internship" was used to obfuscate "Working For Free" and make it sound somehow respectable. Jul 5, 2011 at 6:52
  • Summer job [to me] implies a low-paid manual task - crop picking, Shop or unskilled factory work. An Internship has connotations of skills-acquisition as it tends to be used in 'White-collar' roles, such as Banking, Insurance or the Law. However, most of these are un-paid and while there may be some gain in skills, it does seem to be more like a cost-saving exercise by the 'employer'.
    – NeilB
    Nov 13, 2019 at 19:41

Most of the British and German fellows around our shop refer to it as their apprenticeship. Which seems to imply a period of work which is as much about learning for the employee as it is about cheap labor for the employer. Sounds like an internship to me.

  • 2
    The term apprenticeship has connotations of much longer term to me. I wouldn't expect any apprenticeship to be completed within a few months over the summer holidays.
    – Mark Booth
    Jul 5, 2011 at 20:23

There isn't really an English equivalent (slavery having been abolished rather earlier) - so where it has been introduced the US term is generally used.

The nearest terms are probably "Work Experience" (although as pointed out that's more high school type work) and "Sandwich Course" - where you college degree includes terms or years working in industry interleaved with the time at college. These are normally paid though and are (or were in my day) common in engineering courses.

  • Not all interns in the U.S. are unpaid; back when I was young, they were nearly all paid, although, naturally, at low wages. Dec 8, 2012 at 14:00
  • 1
    "Sandwich Course" = "Co-op Program" in Canada.
    – Martin F
    Jan 16, 2014 at 6:34

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