An internship is an opportunity offered by an employer to potential employees, called interns, to work at a firm for a fixed, limited period of time. Interns are usually undergraduates or students, and most internships last for any length of time between one week and 12 months. Internships (also called "placements", "work placements" or "industrial placements") may be part-time or full-time. They are usually part-time if offered during a university semester and full-time if offered during the summer, winter or Easter holidays, when they typically last 4-12 weeks. Placements are usually full-time, and take place irrespective of term time or holiday time.
An internship may be paid, unpaid or partially paid.
Paid internships are most common at engineering, legal firms, accounting and finance, technology, medical, science, and advertising sectors. Internships in the media (radio, television, print) and non-profit organizations are often unpaid.
Many employers in the highly sought-after professions, such as TV and politics, demand that graduate-level job candidates undergo a period of unpaid "work experience" before being able to get paid work. In most cases this "work experience" is actually simply unpaid work and is contrary to the minimum wage regulations if unpaid. Such is the demand for this kind of work that very few complaints are made about this, and so the practice continues, albeit illegally.
A research internship (also sometimes known as a dissertation internship) is usually undertaken by students that are in their last year of academic study. For a research internship a student will undertake research for a particular company. The company may have something that they feel they need to improve, or the student may be able to choose a topic within the company themselves. The results of the research study will need to be accumulated in to a formal report and presented to the company and to the university institution the student is studying at.