Find yourself an internship

Self-matching internships with SMEs

Update August 2020: Funding has now been finished for summer 2020. We will post an update on funding availability here in due course.

Self-matching is all about giving you the opportunity to find your own internship.

Keele University, in partnership with Santander Universities, is offering eligible companies up to £1,260 towards the internship wages (see below for more details).

You can use this incentive to open some doors and secure yourself some paid experience! All current Keele students and recent Keele graduates are eligible.

How it works?

The Self Matching Internships offer has been set up to help you find your own internship - the Keele Internships team work with employers in the Keele/Staffordshire area, but we recognise that you may prefer to work somewhere else in the UK, perhaps nearer to home, or with a company that can offer you a specific type of internship that more closely matches your career interest.  

You can use a funding incentive to speculatively apply to companies - this internship funding offer is only open to small and medium sized organisations (otherwise known as an SME).  See below for eligibility criteria.

How much is the internship funding?

The Keele/Santander contribution is £4.50 per hour.  The company will need to pay you at least £9 per hour. The maximum funding we can allocate any company is £1,260 for 280 hours. Companies will be paid at the end of the agreed internship, upon invoice to Keele University.  You will need to connect us with your company and we will confirm all these details with them.

How long can the internship be?

Any length from 4 weeks full time to 8 eeks full time can be part funded by Keele/Santander.  The funding contribution is calculated in hours - the min we can part fund is 140 hours (equivalent of 4 weeks' full time) and the max is 280 hours (8 weeks full time) - Any length between 140 and 280 hours is fine too.  If you and your company agree, then the hours can be worked on a part time basis.

Why work for an SME?

In the UK 99.9% of private sector companies are small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), employing over 16 million people. Working in a small business provides the opportunity to get your ideas heard and to get hands-on experience quickly. Some benefits that people say about working for an SME are:

  • variety in day-to-day work as well as a varied working environment
  • early responsibility and autonomy, and possibly a higher profile within the business
  • opportunities to make a real contribution to the business
  • more contact with senior members of the company
  • greater likelihood of getting to know everybody, staff and clients
  • opportunities for career advancement in expanding companies

Company (SME) Eligibility

Business must be registered and based in the UK, with an annual turnover of under £50 million and under 250 employees.   Eligible organisations include companies, sole traders, and partnerships.  If you are unsure about eligibility, contact the Internships team.

We suggest that you use Keele Careers Online (see below) to help you find some suitable companies, but you should also use your network of family, friends, colleagues, university tutors and previous employers to see what might be on offer.  They may know of an opportunity or could at least give you the contact details for someone at the company.

The wage funding incentive that you can use is for UK based SMEs  - over 99% of UK companies are SMEs - an SME is a small and medium sized company employing less than 250 staff and with a turnover of less than £50m.  If you are not sure about the size of the companies you are approaching, you can use the website.  If you are really stuck you can email and we can check for you.  Otherwise, you can send them the employer flyer (see step 3 below) and this will inform the company of the eligibility.

Useful link from Keele Careers Online:

You will need the following 3 documents:

  1. Your CV (see below if you would like us to help you with this)
  2. Your speculative cover letter - you may wish to use Self Matching Speculative Cover letter
  3. The Self-Matching Flyer that explains the funding incentive to the company - you can download and attach to emails that you send to companies.  We have some hard copies too in Careers if you would like to use these.

If you would like Keele Careers to review your CV and/or cover letter you can Book yourself an appointment

How should you write to companies?  

  • Email - this is probably the most usual way to approach companies, but you will need to ensure that you have the correct email address for the person responsible for recruitment
  • Traditional post - this can make a great impact in a world that is increasingly digital

Other tips for writing speculative cover letters:

  • Always try to write to a named person (you may need to call the company to find out who this is)
  • Explain the reason for the contact
  • Be clear about what kind of experience you are looking for and your availability
  • Explain why you are interested in the organisation or sector
  • Show how you would connect/fit in
  • Demonstrate an understanding of what skills and knowledge they may require and provide examples from your education and/or experience
  • Finish with a call to action - how and where you can be contacted

Useful resources from Keele Careers Online:

Once you have been offered an interview, it is vital to do some preparation

If you wish to get some face to face advice from Keele Careers and Employability, you can book yourself an appointment here

There are plenty of resources on Keele Careers Online:

Before you start your internship, it is essential that you connect us with your proposed internship company (and indeed, the company may wish to contact us at any stage so that they can understand the funding)

We will not be able to guarantee any company funding unless you and your company have had approval from us before you start.

Please ask your company to contact us at

Benefits of doing an internship and getting some work experience

A degree is vital in securing your ideal graduate job, but work experience is also critically important. ‘Over half of recruiters reported that candidates who have no previous work experience have little or no chance of receiving a job offer’. High Flyers 2014#

In addition, work experience is essential in order to enable you to make informed career decisions through exposure to different areas of employment. Equally, work experience in an area related to that to which you later apply is invaluable in order to convince employers of your motivation.

Graduate Employers will seek evidence of:

  • Work experience, in particular the learning and personal development gained from the experience/s.
  • Transferable skills developed and applied in the workplace, for example communication, oral presentation, team work and leadership.
  • Ability to transfer skills and knowledge to new situations.

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