Finding a relevant internship isn’t rocket science, but it does take some thought, a little footwork and a healthy dose of gumption. Two specialists offer up some tips to help you find the right placement.
1. Know yourself
As an intern, you should know what you want and what you are capable of handling before you apply for a position, says Francine Picard, internship coordinator in the Social Work Department at the Cégep de Rimouski. Make sure you’ve got the skills the position requires. If you’re studying social work and you’ve got good social skills and enjoy working with teens, try getting work at a youth centre. It might suit you better than a job at a retirement home.
2. Polish your resumé
“Students should highlight their education, skills and personal qualities,” explains Maryse Deschênes, manager of the internship centre at the École Polytechnique in Montreal. If you haven’t got much work experience, beef up your resumé with school or community activities. For example, volunteer experience at a counselling and referral centre would be worth mentioning. Employers will see that human values are important to you.
3. Get in touch with companies
“I tell students to identify which organizations in their field might welcome interns and call them directly,” says Mrs. Picard. Ask to speak to the human resources manager or the general manager if it is a smaller company. Once you’ve spoken to them, send your resumé.
4. Work your contacts
Parents and friends can be a great help. “You may know someone who works in your field of study,” points out Mrs. Deschênes. “These contacts can pass on your resumé to the right person in the company.” Studying computer science? Ask your neighbour who works at Ubisoft or CGI to talk to their boss.
5. Read up on the company
“It’s very important that interns learn as much as they can about the company and the position they are applying for,” indicates Mrs. Deschênes. For example, before you submit an application at a law office, find out if they specialize in family, commercial or criminal law. “Employers want to know that the student has done their homework and is genuinely interested in working for them,” says Mrs. Picard.