CP note: We are proud to introduce a blog from one of our own London interns, Vona! In her guide, Vona covers her personal London experience, the best places to invest your time, and resources and the prime locations for some great bargain shopping. Check out the 4-minute guide to London now!

The 4-minute Guide to Your London Internship

An internship is something that everyone who’s anyone today has been through and anyone who will be anyone tomorrow would have experienced. 

The only thing that makes it even more exciting is being in the centre of the world: London. This is where the Queen lives, and the next person on the tube could be a finance guy in a £1000-suit or a publisher heading to Hackney for a show, while the next generation of Richard Bransons are toiling away until 1 am in a quiet basement office. 

I always thought that when people moved abroad, it was by achieving something extraordinary and having your regional head give a nod to transferring you to a different time zone. But as it turns out, the globalized world we live in does leave space for young people to access opportunities (for a minor compromise). Having the courage to draft that first CV, write that email, and not get those dreadlocks might be the gateway. 

“The purpose of life is to live it, to taste experience to the utmost, to reach out eagerly and without fear for newer and richer experience.” 

Eleanor Roosevelt

What to expect from a London Internship:

In almost any mainstream film, the big city intern would be a slender woman getting bagels for their disgruntled boss who’d then send them to shred paper for the next 3 hours and fetch coffee simultaneously. In reality, this Capital Placement internship turned out to be different. A real role with responsibilities, albeit a few shredding delegations once a month. The day starts with a hopefully short tube ride to reach the office before 9 am, followed by email checking.

Spoiler: there’s a good chance that the start-up has an open plan office in a shared workspace. Friday pub crawl included.

How to start:

Save up as much as you can. Save up with the ferocity of Tarantino’s Django. While your pay will probably cover the exorbitant rent and a few Deliveroos on late nights, a concert or an exclusive sample sale (more on this later) would crave that extra dinero.

Prepare an unbeatable CV:

By this, I mean don’t rely on the formats on the internet. They’ve been around since 1995 and a lot has changed since then. It helps to speak several languages. It also helps to list any Adobe skills you may have or are willing to learn before the work begins. No need to call in favours from the graphics friend at university, try canva.com for some beautiful and effective designs.

Now for the fun part: Where to spend 

There are already about a million articles on how to save in London. But no one really guides a young intern on investing their tight resources of time and money to make the most of the city. After all, there have to be some perks exclusive to this global hub, and here they are, so get ready to swipe your card:

Art: Tate Modern for modern art (that’s anything post-1930’s). Dress in your most chic clothes, pretend to be a duchess, and go to a Christie’s or Sotheby’s auction for unique artwork. Head to the National Gallery to see Van Gogh, Botticelli, Monet and Cezanne masterpieces in the flesh. British Museum for fans of history and V&A for iconic costume pieces. Bonus: It’s all free unless visiting an exclusive exhibition.

Nightlife: There’s a bit of everything in London for every type of club-goer possible. There’s jazz in Shoreditch. The new hip place to be, though, is Brixton. As a seasoned traveller with over 35 countries under my belt, I’d say think of areas to walk around vs exact places to go. Start your walk at Electric Avenue. Walk towards the high street, check out Prince of Wales bar for a quick drink. Then head to Pop Brixton for a variety of food and cocktails, or Craft Beer Co. for some 50 different types of beers. The area also has some of the most original hip hop and reggae scenes out there thanks to its Caribbean history. Check Spotify for techno gigs around town, most are in the south or way up north of Camden. Club entry costs range from £5 to £20.

Shopping: 

There is a coherent democracy in the way you can shop here. Translation: Regardless of who you are, there’s always something you can like and afford in the Venn diagram of retail. Take it from someone who’s said no to a proposal but never refused a shopping trip. 

Insider tip: A lesser-known industry trick is to buy cheaper high street basics (white tees, black trousers, blue jeans, black belts, beige trench coats) and invest more in “detailed” pieces (prints, bright patterns, striking colours, intricate work). Cheap detailed pieces look cheap, while the basics have little variation in style to give away the price tag. 

How much have you got for an item?

£3–£10: British Heart Foundation and Octavia Foundation charity shops. These are all over town and there are vintage pieces up for grabs in exchange for a few quid. The catch? Your finds purely depend on your luck on a particular day.

£5–£25: Head to Oxford Street during the weekdays post-work (avoid weekends at all costs, lest you want to be stepped on by tourists in ‘I love London’ hats – but hey, no judgement). Go around the last week of July or February for the best deals. Expect high street brands such as Mango, Zara, H&M, and the likes.

£10–£50: TK Maxx is a bit pricier, but also better brands. You can get your hands on a chic Zara dress for £10. Bag a Donna Karan or Just Cavalli last season piece for anywhere upwards of £40. 

£40–£300: There are several designer sample sales that happen in Shoreditch, Soho and Covent Garden. The catch is that you have to be a model size UK 8 or lower, with at least £40 to spare for 1 item. Where to splurge: Sunglasses, shoes and bags. These are items that you could use every day forever. A quick google search for “latest sample sales London” should land you some options, more details on this later if the editor grants me a higher word limit.

– Vona Roberta

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Capital Placement offering global internship programmes for students and recent graduates since 2012 with one of our 1500+ partner companies across 25+ industries.
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