CPSA Case Study: Sourcing your own SME Internship

As a final year BSc Psychology student, I wanted to use this year to develop my skills and experience so that I would be in a strong position to apply for graduate jobs. After taking a course on drugs and addiction as part of my degree, I realized that I felt passionate about this subject.

Paula Mesia Guevara, Career Peer Support Assistant and Final Year BSc Psychology student

I decided that I wanted to look for an internship in a related role, to help me to decide if I would enjoy working in this field. However, I was not finding many advertised opportunities for the kinds of internships I was interested in.

Through the Careers Service website I learned that students could source their own internships through the university’s SME internship scheme.

The scheme can provide financial support from the university to small and medium-size organisations that take on students as interns. This can make it much easier and more attractive for them to offer internship opportunities.

Within a couple of weeks, I had managed to arrange an exciting internship opportunity with the Addiction Recovery Agency, a charity dedicated to helping people dealing with addiction issues.

I am currently completing the internship, and learning so much every day about what it is really like working in this sector. It has encouraged me to seek graduate roles in this area after my degree, and provided really valuable experiences which I can talk about in future interviews!

Here are some of my top tips for anyone else who might be interested in sourcing and arranging your own SME internship:

  • First, read through all of the Careers Service’s information and advice on sourcing your SME internship. This includes all of the important information on eligibility and employer requirements.
  • Next, conduct your own research on the specific field you are interested in, and draw up a shortlist of organisations to contact. I used Google, LinkedIn, and the Careers Service’s sector guides to do this.
  • Once I had found five organisations I was interested in, I contacted them, either via email (you can usually find a contact email address on an organisation’s website), by phone, or on LinkedIn. Contacting someone specific in the organisation, rather than a generic email address or mailbox, may increase your chances of getting a reply. Although contacting employers directly may seem daunting, it could bring you a great opportunity, and I would definitely recommend it!
  • Some of the organisations I emailed never got back to me, while others mentioned they were not looking for anyone right now. The important thing is not to be discouraged by this, as it is perfectly normal!
  • The Addiction Recovery Agency, who I contacted via LinkedIn, got back to me and provided the email address of their manager. After exchanging a few emails, they agreed to schedule an interview, where I was asked about my skills and past experience, as well as how I could be helpful to the organisation. The exact recruitment process will vary according to each organisation and sector, but my interview was very friendly and informal!


A picture of a young woman pointing to the left with the careers servicelogo behind her.


The Careers Service has lots of support it can provide at every stage of this process. For example, the speculative application guide can help you to plan exactly what to say when you introduce yourself to potential employers for the first time. Whatever stage you are at in your thinking, you can email the SME internships team directly at careers-uobinterns@bristol.ac.uk for further guidance.



Author: Paula Mesia Guevara, Career Peer Support Assistant and Final Year Psychology BSc student

This blog post is one of a series produced by our Career Peer Support Assistants, our fantastic team of current Bristol students working part-time with the Careers Service. Look out for further CPSA case studies coming soon!