Great alternatives to unpaid internships for graduates

By Oliver Sylvester-Bradley on 20 Apr 2015 - 14:45

Ever wondered what you might do after college or university? Ever been to a careers fair and been totally disillusioned by the crap-sounding options in mind-numbingly-boring businesses? Ever been to see a careers adviser and been shocked by the lack of practical, relevant and appropriate advice you get? We know how you feel but you shouldn't despair, there are plenty of alternative options to help you discover what you want to do with your life, find out how to get there, receive training and support and hopefully have a little fun in the process! We've put together the following guide featuring five of the best alternative options available.


If you've got an idea for a small business, or social enterprise Altgen may be able to help. Their aim is simply to get young people out of unemployment, unpaid internships or working for peanuts, and get them to start up something that they love and get paid for it!
As a co-op themselves, Altgen helps young people (18 - 29 year olds) to set up their own co-operatives to create a more equal and sustainable economy, where young people are in control of their working lives, get paid to do what they love and have a positive social impact.

How can you get involved?

Check out their simple guide on how to set up a co-op and attend or request a workshop. Applications for their first round of start-up grants just closed but they may have more soon so keep your eye on their site or sign up to their mailing list.

Year Here

Year Here challenge bright graduates to a year of building brilliant solutions to social problems. The programme is a full-time postgraduate course in London designed for smart and curious graduates. Unlike a traditional Master's degree, Year Here is immersive and experiential – it's a new kind of education for a new kind of leader.
Those selected to become Fellows embark on a mission to build creative and entrepreneurial responses to social problems, supported by a frontline service experience, industry mentoring and a rigorous social innovation curriculum.
Year Here was launched at Number 10 Downing Street in March 2013 and, since then, has run three programmes for 37 graduates and been named one of Britain's 50 New Radicals by Nesta and The Observer.

How can you get involved?

New programmes kick off in September most years. You can attend an introduction to the 2015 programme for prospective applicants and apply to the next Year Here programme online.

The creative Society

The creative society is an arts employment charity that assists young people to get into jobs in the creative and cultural industries.
The creative industry works with leading figures in the arts, the government and with entrepreneurs to help unemployed, young people and graduates, get into creative placements in the UK.
In 2010-11 they successfully placed over 800 unemployed young people into six month work placements in arts organisations across the UK. These jobs range from working with musicians and bands for the Notting Hill Carnival, digitising historic photos and documents with London Metropolitan Archives, organising theatre and education projects at the National Theatre and hosting visitors at the Southbank Centre.

How can you get involved?

They run a number of creative placements and projects, such as This Is It, check out their website!


Worthwhile is a charity led by local student hubs across the UK. Their mission is to “Show everyone that they have the power and potential to shape a better world”.
The Worthwhile Graduate Scheme seeks to provide a clear career path from university into the social impact space. Through the facilitation of ten-month meaningful work placements, support networks, training and networking events, the Worthwhile Graduate Scheme is the strongest starting point for those passionate about a social impact career. 
Graduates are placed at one of Worthwhile’s partner organisations in Oxford, London, Bristol, Cambridge, Southampton or Winchester.

How can you get involved?

check out their page all about the Worthwhile graduate scheme.

Before I Die Network

If you're not sure what you want to do with your life, and our post on finding you passion to find your dream job didn't help, the Before I Die Network is for you.
Inspired by Candy Chang’s Before I Die project, the Before I Die Network was born from the founder's own experiences of being young and unemployed, and the disillusionment with the support available. The Before I Die Network is a space for young people to figure out what they want to do with their lives and how to get there as part of a supportive community.

How can you get involved?

They run regular socials for graduates to meet over a beer, talk about what they want to do with their life and plan how to get there.

If you know of any other good options for graduates let us know and we'll add them to the list.