Every year thousands of young international interns travel to London to undertake internships at “host” companies throughout England’s capital city. This group of young travellers are distinct from the many thousands of overseas students who just come here to study at London’s language schools. Over the last three years in particular, we have seen a marked increase in students choosing to intern in London, as opposed to just taking a language course.
In this post we look at some of the main differences/nuances of hosting an overseas intern compared to hosting language students. We also look at how you can become a host family to overseas interns.
Rationale for Travel
Overseas interns coming to London are usually motivated by the same goals as language students. Both sets of travellers will want to improve their English through an authentic and immersive work/study abroad experience. However, interns are also motivated by getting a specific professional experience on their CVs.
Unlike the UK, in many countries it is compulsory for young students to obtain work experience as part of their studies. Whereas it is not always a requirement to get this experience overseas, international students as young as 16 travel to the UK for internships. These are often compulsory elements of their school or university studies. Germany, for example, is well known for excellent apprenticeship programmes for 16 to 21 year olds. Such programmes are a great way for German students to get a flavour of the world of work, and often an overseas experience, early in their study/work lives.
Students who choose to intern in London often benefit on two fronts therefore. They get the professional experience they seek, and at the same time get the opportunity to practise and improve their English abroad. The recent trend, noted above, towards students seeking out internship opportunities over language courses makes complete sense therefore.
Types of Internships
Young people from overseas can undertake a London internship in a vast array of industries. Over the last 10 years, we have found homestays for interns who are here to work in museums, banks, galleries, and even hotels. With London being a global business hub, the opportunities to take internships here are almost without limit. However, internships in certain sectors are fiercely competitive. Finance/banking, for example, is one such sector. Digital Marketing, IT, Engineering and Medicine are other examples. These internships are often quite well remunerated. There are also unpaid internships where the student will actually themselves have paid an agency, usually abroad, to arrange the internship for them.
An intern’s language ability will often be key to what internship opportunities may be available to them. Those whose level of English is fluent, or advanced, will find many more opportunities open to them.
Length of Stays
Overseas language students tend to stay in London on average for 1 to 2 months. Overseas interns can be on internships here anywhere from a couple of weeks to many, many months. They will need homestay accommodation for the duration of their internship. Some will choose to come to London earlier and get acclimatised to life in London before they start work. This may sometimes involve taking a pre-internship English course at a language school, or possibly at a university.
Welfare of Overseas Interns
If you are considering becoming a host family to overseas interns, then it is important to be aware of how you can support them during their time in your home. Overseas interns are often just overseas students who have opted to intern instead of study. The fact that they are working may imply a greater level of independence than a typical language student. However, this is not necessarily always the case.
Interns have the same accommodation options as language students. They can opt to live in halls of residence, student houses or even potentially rent a whole property.
If they have chosen to live in a homestay, it will be for a supportive “home from home” environment. It is important therefore not to automatically assume that an intern will need less support than a language student. You may, for example, host an intern who is both first time in London and is only an English language “beginner”. When you meet your guest, you will no doubt be able to gauge how much support they will need. You can then tailor your hosting to what you feel is appropriate. Ask lots of questions when your young guest arrives and do not hesitate to contact us if you feel that you need any support.
If you are also open to hosting 16 & 17 year old interns, then you will be required to follow HFS London’s safeguarding processes. This is because anyone aged under 18, whether student or intern, is considered to be a child in UK law. This will involve DBS (criminal) checks and references, amongst other elements.
How to become a Host Family
Registering to host foreign interns or students in London is very straight forward. First familiarise yourself with the host family registration process. After you have applied to become a homestay host with us, one of our team will be in touch to discuss a time to meet and visit and assess your home.
If you are an overseas student reading this and thinking about interning in London, then you may be interested to read past posts on homestay as an affordable accommodation option in London and on how to find a London internship.
If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.
We will be very happy to hear from you and help wherever we can!