The SME Internship Fund offers Imperial students studying STEM degrees and recent STEM graduates the opportunity to apply to paid project-based internships with start-ups and SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) over the summer vacation period. 

A position with a start-up or SME is a unique career growth opportunity. Smaller companies can provide experiences that allow you to learn, grow and be challenged. Interns have the space to impact on many aspects of the business and contribute to the growth of an early-stage innovator. If you are looking for an experience with diverse responsibility and greater autonomy, consider exploring the positions available through the SME Internship Scheme. 

Previous participants have said, “During the internship I really enjoyed working in a start-up environment. I found it fascinating to network with the people around me and I loved how tight-knit and interdependent the community was.” 

The 2023 SME Internship Scheme is due to launch over the Easter vacation period.

Please contact the Internship Unit with any queries in the meantime.  

SME Internship Fund

How do I find these internships?


SME Internship positions are advertised via ‘Exclusive Opportunities’ on your JobsLive profile. This can be accessed by using the ‘Search’ tab (pictured below).

 Exclusive Opportunities on JobsLive

Internship positions for summer 2023 will start to be advertised at during the Easter Vacation period and will continue to be added over the following weeks so be sure to check back regularly.

Please contact the Placement and Internship Unit at with any queries you may have.

The recruitment process

All internships will include an application form that will require you to upload a copy of your CVs and resumes and provide details on your interest in and suitability for the relevant position. A strong application will provide answers tailored to the specific internship and corresponding organisation. Review the information and resources on the Application Process section of our website for further guidance on making applications. For further support book a Careers Discussion on JobsLive to discuss  your draft application.  

Prior to the application, you must consider your eligibility to undertake an internship in the UK. To discuss details regarding work eligibility and visas please contact the International Student Support Team.

After the vacancy closing date, all applications will be reviewed by the Placement and Internship Unit. A shortlist of candidates will then be forwarded to the recruiting organisation so they can decide who they would like to interview and offer the internship to.

Internship offers are made directly by the recruiting SME. They will pay you directly and provide you with a contract of employment, detailing duties and responsibilities, hours of work, induction, location of work, health & safety and holiday entitlement.

Internships usually start in July and August, but often organisations can be flexible. Internships may be undertaken full-time or part-time at the discretion of the host SME. If you have any queries around this please contact the Placement and Internship Unit at

Please note you can only undertake one internship as part of the SME Internship Fund.

If you successfully secure a position on the SME Internship Fund, you will be required to complete a short reflective learning journal to help you learn from your experiences. Aspects of this journal may also be used for promotional purposes.

SME Internship FAQs

Are the internships paid?

Yes. All internships as part of the SME Internship Fund will be paid a minimum hourly rate in line with the Real Living Wage.

Are all students eligible to apply?

No. The internships are exclusively for STEM Imperial students and recent Imperial graduates that have completed all aspects of their degree.  Please note Imperial College Business School students are not currently eligible to participate in this scheme.  

What is an SME?

An SME is a small or medium-sized enterprise. According to the EU, an SME is a business with fewer than 250 employees, and a turnover of less than €50 million. Within this umbrella, there are three different categories: medium-sized, small, and micro-businesses. 

SMEs make up around 99 per cent of all the businesses operating in the UK, and are therefore enormously important to the UK economy. 

Can I apply for the SME Internship Fund if I have found my own SME Internship?

Yes. If you have already secured an internship with an SME that you think would be eligible for our part funding, please direct them to the SME Internship Fund page for employers where they can find further information on eligibility and submission deadlines.

Could I undertake the project part-time?

Most internships are advertised as full-time opportunities. However, often host organisations can be flexible if you would need to undertake the position part time. We would recommend speaking directly with the SME organisation if you are invited to interview.

Can I do my project remotely?

Most internships are designed to take place at the host SME organisations workplace. However, where possible, organisations will accommodate a virtual internship with remote working. We would recommend speaking directly with the SME organisation if you are invited to interview.

If you have any other queries please email the Placement and Internship Unit at