What does it mean to be an intern? Do you get paid? Do you not get paid? How many hours are you allowed to work? There are lots of questions that we’re sure go through your mind when you’re thinking of taking on an internship.
One thing that’s been proven is that a solid internship can provide the experience, skills and connections you need to land your first full-time job. So, don’t underestimate the significance of an internship. And like any job, you want to approach it the right way.
Here’s what you need to know about landing an internship in Canada.
Sounds like a simple enough question, but there are some important distinctions that you need to know about. Generally speaking, an internship is an opportunity to gain knowledge and experience by working for a company.
While gaining knowledge and experience may be the primary purpose, as an intern you’re still expected to do the job. If you’re a marketing intern, you may be expected to conduct digital marketing research or create content for social media platforms, Interning as a front-end developer, you’d have the opportunity to write code, while a newsroom intern may have the opportunity to conduct research for an investigative story.
Regardless of your duties as an intern, there are layers to consider. One of those is understanding the difference between a student intern and internships that are not specifically for students.
Student interns must be enrolled in a secondary or post-secondary institution. The internship you take on must fill the requirements of a given program at your institution and these requirements must be stated clearly by your institution.
The most important distinction is that student interns can be paid or unpaid. As long as the main reason for the internship is to “gain knowledge and experience,” then that satisfies the legal requirements here in Canada.
In Canada, non-student interns must be paid at least the minimum wage for the province. Under this definition of internship, you cannot be enrolled in any educational institution, even if the internship is outside of your program. You can be a recent graduate or looking for relevant experience as you change careers. While students have a length of time they can stay at an internship, which is guided by their program, non-student interns don’t have any restrictions on how long they can work at a particular company.
Another important distinction between student and non-student interns is that students cannot legally be paid overtime. There are no such payment or hourly restrictions on non-student interns, as long as they comply with general labour laws.
Now that you understand what an internship opportunity looks like, let’s talk about the steps you need to take to find an internship.
You’ve taken time to build skills in a specific area of study. When looking for an internship, think about places where those skills will be most applicable. Here’s how you can identify and adapt your skills:
When you approach an internship this way, you can show employers that you’re already taking the necessary steps to prepare for your career and have likely done projects you can present that capture your skills and experience.
Learn more about what types of skills employers are looking for.
When searching for summer internships, the deadlines are usually months before. That means you’ll need to start doing your research at least six months in advance. Some tips to consider when beginning your research:
You want all of your application materials to be up-to-date and customized for the specific opportunity you’re applying for. Make sure you prepare all of the following:
Even if you don’t have one lined up, it’s important that you stay prepared for an interview. You never know when you’ll get that call or email asking to be interviewed for your dream internship. When getting ready for your interview, consider these steps:
Internships are a great way to earn experience, try industries you might be curious about, and begin your career path. The information in this article will be useful in helping you identify and secure an internship. Here are some key points to keep in mind:
As you start thinking about which internships make the most sense, Prepped is here to guide you through the process. Premium job-search tools like our Resume Optimizer and AI engine that helps prepare you for interviews gives you an edge when applying for your internship. Sign up for Prepped today and jump start your career.
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This article offers general information only and is not intended as legal, financial or other professional advice. A professional advisor should be consulted regarding your specific situation. While the information presented is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. All expressions of opinion reflect the judgment of the author(s) as of the date of publication and are subject to change. No endorsement of any third parties or their advice, opinions, information, products or services is expressly given or implied by Royal Bank of Canada or its affiliates.