Internship Programme at Sotheby’s London


Internship Programme at Sotheby’s London, Autumn 2021

Sotheby’s, the oldest and largest internationally recognised firm of fine art auctioneers in the world, has been uniting collectors with world-class works of art since 1744.

We are looking for exceptional candidates at graduate-level or equivalent to participate in our unique 12-week paid Internship Programme this Autumn.

The objective of the Sotheby’s Internship Programme is to provide practical training experience to candidates interested in pursuing a career in the auction world. Placements are available across our Specialist areas of the business. Interns will be assigned a department based on their academic interests and professional goals, and will work under the supervision of a designated staff member. Over the course of the autumn auction season, our interns will have the opportunity to learn about the inner workings of a renowned auction house, see great rarities and works of art, and discover potential industry careers. Interns will also attend seminars led by senior staff members on a regular basis and will be assigned a group project to present to a panel of programme sponsors during the final week of the internship.

How to Apply

Our Autumn 2021 Internship Programme will run from Monday 27th September - Friday 17th December 2021.

The deadline for applications has now passed and we are currently in the process of shortlisting.

Please note, once your application has been submitted, you may not receive a response until early July 2021. Providing you received the submission confirmation email, we have received your submission. If shortlisted, you will need to have availability for interviews throughout July 2021. Due to the ongoing UK restrictions, all interviews will take place via Microsoft Teams. Further details will be shared should you be shortlisted for interviews.

Sotheby’s will continue to monitor guidelines in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The safety of our employees and interns is our top priority. Currently, we are looking forward to welcoming our intern group onsite. We will notify candidates of any ongoing changes and programme expectations.

If you require any additional support with your application or to attend an interview please do get in touch.

Candidate Profile

  • A curiosity and passion for learning
  • Teamwork experience
  • A positive attitude and self-motivation
  • Strong interpersonal skills
  • A strong academic record

Eligibility Requirements

  • Candidates must be graduate level or equivalent
  • Must be able to commit to the full-time 12-week programme
  • Must be authorised to work in the United Kingdom without visa sponsorship
  • Must submit a completed application (incomplete applications will not be considered)


Using the list below please indicate within the application form up to 3 departments (in order of preference) for your internship placement. Sotheby’s will strive to match each candidate with an appropriate department based on interests and background. We cannot guarantee you will be placed in a department of your choosing and not all departments offer internships every programme cycle.

Global Fine Arts Departments:

  • 19th Century Continental Pictures
  • Antiquities
  • Chinese Works Of Art
  • Contemporary Art
  • English & Continental Furniture
  • Impressionist & Modern Art
  • Indian and South Asian Art
  • Islamic Art
  • Japanese Works of Art
  • Modern and Contemporary African Art
  • Modern British Pictures
  • Old Master Drawings
  • Old Master Paintings
  • Photographs
  • Prints & Multiples
  • Russian Paintings
  • Russian Works of Art
  • Sculpture
  • Silver & Vertu

Luxury Departments:

  • Books and Manuscripts
  • Jewellery
  • Wine and Spirits


  • I am not available during one month of the suggested dates, can I still apply?
    The internship dates are set in-line with our autumn auction calendar. We will only be able to offer placements to candidates available for the duration.
  • How do I apply for a UK visa? Would Sotheby’s be willing to sponsor this application?
    If you do not have the right to work in the UK, please go to the following website for more information:

    Sotheby’s is unable to sponsor any visa applications for our internship programme.
  • Does Sotheby’s offer internships in other offices other than London?
    We currently offer internships in our New York and Hong Kong premises. For more information, please refer to the relevant sections on our careers page.
  • Will you still accept my application if the deadline has passed?
    Unfortunately, we are not able to consider your application after the closing deadline.
  • Do you offer unpaid work experience for any time period?
    We are only able to offer twelve week, full-time paid internship placements.


Are you looking to apply for an internship at Sotheby’s and have you ever wondered what it is like working in a specialist department? Now you can gain a glimpse into the inner workings of our auction house through our regular internship blog. If your passion for Sotheby’s is sparked further by this article please submit your application for our next internship intake through our careers site.

We’ve asked two interns in Contemporary Art to provide top tips for future interns and their internship highlights.

1. What has been the most valuable thing you’ve learnt during your internship?

Ben: The internship provides you with a lot of insights, the importance of strong team coordination, especially among the interns and the passion that drives this world leading art business. For me the most valuable takeaway was how from day one your knowledge about a variety of artists quickly expands. Wherever you begin your career, there are very few places in the art world where you can build knowledge so quickly about a comparably rich set of artist’s.

Haleigh: During this internship I’ve learned a great deal about many different contemporary artists through assisting specialists with research. This knowledge is invaluable and will stay with me throughout the rest of my career. I have also learned about—and participated in—many of the different components that contribute to the preparation for an auction, from writing catalogue notes, researching using artist catalogue raisonnés, to helping set up the galleries for exhibitions. Having just finished my master’s degree, this internship has complimented my academic knowledge of art history and has offered an incredibly valuable and unique perspective of the commercial art industry.

2. What is a typical day for an intern in Contemporary?

Ben: That depends very much on the time of the year and the preferences you discussed during your interview. If you like writing and join during a time that leads to the sales, you will be gathering lots of information about prominent artists of our time and get the chance to prove yourself at note writing. Whether you prefer to be more on the content side or on the operations and business aspects of the department, the supervisors will make sure that you get a great deal of exposure to what is going on in the department.

Haleigh: A typical day as an intern in the Contemporary department usually begins with research using the department’s extensive book library, as well as online resources such as Artnet. On certain days we are asked to do external research at libraries such as the National Art Library at the V&A, or the library at Tate Modern. Other tasks include taking installation photographs in the galleries for each work in a given sale, as well as organisation of the department’s library inventory and sending catalogues out for delivery.

3. Do you have any advice for future interns?

Ben: Don’t be shy to ask questions. Prior to joining have a close look at past auction catalogues of the respective department you will be working in to have a head start.

Haleigh: Stay organised and on top of tasks as best you can, as work in the library can get very busy particularly around sale time. Writing lists and prioritising tasks is incredibly beneficial. It is also great to show an enthusiastic attitude and a keen interest in the tasks at hand; this will not only contribute to a positive working environment amongst the interns, but also foster a greater depth of knowledge during your internship.

4. What has been your most memorable moment during your internship?

Ben: When the final catalogue arrived and I found that the specialists had allowed for notes I had written to make it through to the print version. That was a moment where I felt hard work had been truly appreciated and I had been given a real opportunity to be a productive part of the lead up to the sales here.

Haleigh: My most memorable moment has been helping a specialist to catalogue a painting in an upcoming sale by checking the condition of the work. This first-hand, direct experience with the art was very special and it is extraordinary to see these artworks in person once you have dedicated so much time to researching and writing about them.