1. I studied Boichemistry (Toxicology) at BSc level in the UK. The University offered a 4-year degree course where the third year was spent working. I spent a year in the drug metabolism department at Wellcome Research (before they merged with Glaxo).
2. The University Department had a list of employers who were willing to take students some did 12 month placements, some did 2 six month placements. You added your name to whichever placement you were interested in an were interviewed until you were placed. we didn't have to go out and look for our own "internship".
3. Eleven months, however the area of the country I lived in had a 25% unemployment rate at the time (nationally it was over 10%) and the country was in a recession. However, I did run into the "lack of experience wall' where the interviewer comments on your lack of experience. I found the best response to be that experience will only come with employment and as this will be my first job since graduation it is to be expected.
4. my first full time job was in Medicinal Biochemistry performing blod testing at a hospital laboratory. After 11 months of employment I was able to get a job in the field I wanted (Toxicology/drug development).
5. 5000 pounds per year, but it was 1985.
6. As a manager, now partly responsible for hiring new staff I am constantly surprised that many applicants expect top-dollar salaries immediately and expect to be in management positions within a couple of years. Nobody is going to pay top-dollar for a graduate with no experience.
My advice would be initially take any job you are offered as in my experience it is easier to get a new job if you are already employed (I think it shows employers that someone else was willing to "bet" on you already). As your experience increased, hopefully salary and promotions will follow.
If you are dead set on getting the best paid job you can then getting the best degree class possible, collecting as many academic awards as you can and a healthy publication list wouldn't hurt.