Attracting and retaining the best talent is essential for SMEs to reach their full potential. Despite this, not all students automatically consider a small business to do an internship or to kick start their career. However, SMEs can provide a wealth of responsibility and experience that interns may not be able to find in larger organisations.

    Through the Santander SME Internship Programme, we help:

    • SMEs to find an intern who has the skills to meet the needs of their business; and
    • Interns to find an SME to help them develop their skills at the beginning of their careers.

    Find out more

    Santander SME Internship Programme

    Available to: 

    • Businesses with an annual turnover of under £50 million, and under 250 employees
    • Businesses registered and based in the UK

    What's in it for you?

    Students often bring new ideas and fresh concepts that can revolutionise the way the business see their activity, and this could open the door for further expansion.

    This is a great opportunity for a company to tap into the enthusiasm of students, who can provide a valuable resource for the progress of the business.

    The internships are paid £300 per week, placements over 2 weeks are half paid by the SME and half by Santander, placement of 2 weeks or less are fully paid by Santander.

    Santander Universities will contribute up to a maximum of £1,500 per internship. The internships can be for a duration of between 1 and 10 weeks with the intern working on a full-time or part-time basis.

    Taking an intern has given us the opportunity to do things in our business we just didn’t have time to do otherwise.

    Sales Director at Forest Sofa Ltd.

    What's in it for the intern?

    You will give your studies and career a boost by gaining valuable skills and industry experience, plus make a real difference to an SME.

    An internship can put you one step ahead of other job seekers by offering you access to the industries and companies you have always wanted to work in.

    Your internship will be part-funded by the SME and part by Santander, so you won’t need to worry about your finances while you’re doing your internship.

    The Santander SME Internship Programme is open to any current student or graduate from our partner universities.

    Facts and figures

    • More than 90% of the UK’s leading graduate employers are offering paid work experience programmes for students and recent graduates during the 2015/2016 academic year – an unprecedented 14,058 places are available.
    • Three-quarters of employers provide paid vacation internships for penultimate year students and at least half offer industrial placements for undergraduates (typically lasting 6 to 12 months as part of a university degree course).
    • Increasing numbers of employers now also have work experience places for first year undergraduates – over a quarter of organisations offer paid internships and two-fifths of employers run introductory courses, open days and other taster experiences.
    • Almost half the recruiters who took part in the research repeated their warnings from previous years – that graduates who've had no previous work experience at all are unlikely to be successful during the selection process and have little or no chance of receiving a job offer for their organisations’ graduate programmes.

    ​Data taken from “The Graduate Market in 2016” report from High Fliers

    Case studies

    To learn about the experiences of previous businesses recruiting interns, as well as the benefits internships bring to SMEs, select from the case studies listed below:

    Invirt Reality

    Set for an exciting future, Invirt Reality founders outline how the recruitment of a graduate has helped to make virtual much more of a reality for Invirt.

    Read case study

    Invirt Reality


    The Founder of Daymedia describes how taking on interns allowed him to spend more time working on the business, rather than in it, so he could take the agency to the next level.

    Read case study



    CEO and Founder of RentalStep tells us how bringing his first intern into the business is giving him a step up in reaching the student market.

    Read case study




    Can any business take part in the programme?

    We welcome every industry, as long as your business meets the following criteria:

    • An annual turnover of under £50 million, and under 250 employees.
    • Must be registered and based in the UK
    What’s Santander’s contribution to the programme?

    Santander Universities will contribute up to a maximum of £1,500 (one thousand five hundred pounds). For internships between 1-2 weeks Santander will fund £300 per week. Internships between 3 and 10 weeks will be part-funded by Santander at a rate of £150 per week to a maximum of £1,500, to be matched by the SME or University, these internships will not be fully funded by Santander at any point.

    How will I know if a candidate is interested in my vacancy?

    If a suitable candidate matches your requirements, the partner university’s careers department will contact you to go ahead with the selection process.

    Who can apply?

    The Santander SME Internship Programme is open to any current student or graduate from our partner universities

    Which universities partner with Santander?

    For a list of our universities, click here.

    Do I need to present any documents as an Intern?

    You'll need to provide an up-to-date CV, including your field of study and the skills and competencies you believe are relevant to the role.

    How can I find out more?

    For more information visit or speak to your local Relationship Director.

    Protecting your money - Financial Services Compensation Scheme (Opens in a new window)