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Overview of Opportunities

27 September 2015 |

If you are just starting out on your career path, the sheer number of industries, firms, divisions within firms and opportunities available to experience these firms can be quite overwhelming and confusing! You could start by trying to gain an insight into a range of careers and firms. Keep an open mind. Look at large firms, small firms, niche firms, corporations with in-house professional services teams and different industries. This will not only broaden your understanding of how the City works, but could also ensure that your future decisions are better informed. Remember, the City is not for everyone.

Note that opportunities offered by different organisations tend to target different student groups. Some opportunities are only available to those studying a particular degree and some are only open to students at a specific stage of their degree (or to graduates). In addition, some employers recruit on a rolling basis. This means that they assess candidates and make offers as and when they receive applications. Beware, as this leads to the real risk that spaces may fill up before the application deadline. Other recruiters read applications only once the deadline has passed, meaning it matters less when you submit your application. There is no point wasting time on an application only to discover that you are not eligible to apply or that all the places have been taken! Do your research before applying!

Opportunities: Year Of Study

  • 1st years are generally offered brief insight opportunities at the organisation"s premises (lasting from a few hours to 1 week). These typically involve little or no responsibility, but can (depending on the firm) lead to fast-track opportunities. At the very least they provide evidence of your research and commitment to the career and can therefore bolster your application for a full internship later on.
  • Penultimate year students are typically offered longer internships (lasting 2 weeks – 10 weeks) which can involve real work, more responsibility and a range of assessments. For 2nd year students doing a 4 year degree, different firms take different approaches to what they are willing to offer. Check your eligibility for schemes very carefully.
  • Some firms also offer internships to finalists and graduates, although other firms prefer finalists and graduates to apply directly for jobs.
  • After graduation, some industries require candidates to continue with further study part-time whilst also working for the firm in order to prepare for additional examinations (for instance, accountants and actuaries). Candidates going into Commercial Law will have to complete the Legal Practice Course (LPC) before commencing work at their respective firms.

You may also have access to informal insight opportunities offered by university societies. These tend to be less competitive and involve a less onerous application process, yet can still provide you with a valuable insight that can help to inform and shape your future career-decisions. Some firms also offer other opportunities that can help you to build a rapport with and gain a greater insight into a particular firm, in turn perhaps increasing your likelihood of securing internship/job interviews in the future. For instance, some firms recruit students who have just completed their first year to become campus ambassadors (a role for which you may get paid). Many firms are also anxious to increase their diversity, so if you are from an underrepresented socio-economic or ethnic background or are disabled, there may special opportunities open to you.

If you are at university, a great way to clarify which roles are open to you in light of your year and subject of study is to attend firm presentations at your university or to visit your university career department. Alternatively you can look at websites such as,, and the websites of the firms to which you are considering applying in order to ascertain which opportunities are open to you.