Finance Work Experience Ideas

Haven’t gone to university yet? Been there a year or two? Already left? If you’ve decided a finance career is for you then it’s time to get working on those finance work experience ideas…and then get applying!

The reality is that competition for jobs in the financial sector can be brutal, so the bit extra that work experience provides can make all the difference! In fact, some firms will only hire you if you have relevant experience. Recent statistics show that the vast majority of their graduate hires will be individuals who have already completed an internship with them or in a relevant industry!

So best get to business! Here are some finance work experience ideas to get you started…

Open Days

What are they?

Lots of large finance firms (including KPMG, PwC, Deloitte and EY) offer open days for students at various stages of their education. These days will give you a taste of the financial world.

They are also a great chance to network; often, you’ll get the opportunity to speak to trainees, managers and the graduate recruitment team. They can provide invaluable information about the sector, and applying for more formal internships if you like what you see.

How do you apply?

Good news! Open days are actually relatively easy to get on to. Most firms only require you to meet their academic requirements and provide a short statement about why you want to attend, but that’s about as hard as it gets.


Here are are few companies with opportunities:

  • KMPG Open Door Day
  • PwC Insight day
  • Taste of Deloitte
  • EY Insight Day

First Year Internships

What are they?

As competition keeps increasing in the financial sector, firms are starting to offer internships to first year students. These are usually less competitive and shorter (from three days to two weeks) than the more well-known vacation schemes and can lead to longer placements in second and third years for those who impress!

As an intern you’ll be working on real projects and have real responsibilities. You’ll be given an insight into what it’s like to work for a finance firm. What’s more, you’ll have the opportunity to work alongside graduate trainees and experienced accountants on real client projects. You may even be asked to attend meetings or shadow senior colleagues. This will give you a wealth of information to draw upon if you decide to apply to the firm’s graduate scheme.

How do you apply?

The process is likely to be tougher than that for an open day. Most firms require you to be on track for a 2:1 in your first year of university. You may need to fill out an application form and take part in an interview.

Where to start…

  • EY First Year Programme
  • J. P. Morgan Pre-Internship
  • Spring into Deloitte
  • PwC Talent Academy

Vacation Schemes and Summer Internships

What are they?

These are the most serious work experience opportunities and are reserved for those in their penultimate or final year of university. They are more competitive than first year internships and longer (anything from two weeks to two months). Often these schemes are extended job interviews in disguise, with most top tier firms using them to scout out the best graduates. So it is your chance to impress and secure yourself a job!

You’ll be part of a team working on a project in one of the main business areas of the firm. This could be advisory, assurance, corporate finance, tax etc. These schemes provide a detailed insight into the financial world. For those serious about pursuing a career in finance, there’s nothing better!

How do you apply?

I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to say. Yes, this is the toughest work experience opportunity to get. Competition is fierce because people know these schemes can be a ticket to a graduate job. You will have to have gained a 2:1 in your first year(s) of study. If you meet the academic requirement, there will be an online application form to complete and some kind of an interview, either telephone, group or individual – or maybe all three! Some firms also require that you do some psychometric tests.

Where to start…

  • EY Summer Internship
  • Deloitte Summer Vacation Scheme
  • PwC Summer Internship

Opportunities at Smaller Firms

What are they?

Surprisingly most finance firms don’t have open days or structured work experience schemes. But this doesn’t mean they’re not willing to give work experience to those with the initiative to ask.

All you have to do is call them. The worst they can say is no!

How do you apply?

Get on to Google and check out smaller finance companies’ websites. If you can’t find any sign of open days or work experience schemes or internships, then give them a call and ask if they offer work experience. If the answer is yes, find out whom to send your information to and get writing that cover letter!