Tag Archives | internship

Image by COD Newsroom, Flickr

Image by COD Newsroom, Flickr

My name is Chelsea – I’m a fifth year student at the University of Toronto, and I just got an internship! Yay, right? Well, I sure am excited about it, but there are others who aren’t so thrilled (and they make some good points).

I should specify that this internship is unpaid. There’s a lot of debate over whether or not unpaid internships should be legal, but I will say that in my case I believe it is justified. This is because I’m interning for a tiny non-profit that raises money for mental health research and creates awareness. They only have 3 employees. They likely can’t afford to pay me.

I’m going to be posting about my experience throughout the summer, because so many students end up in internships or want one, but it’s difficult to know what it will be like until you’re there. My particular situation may be a little unusual but I hope that it can still shed some light on what you can expect (or at the very least, entertain you)!

First, the basics:

How I Got The Job

  • I was contacted by the executive director to be filmed for a video project they were doing. She reached out to me because she read an article I published in our student paper (you can read it here). Although you should never do something just because you feel like it will “look good”, sometimes your extracurriculars really can get you noticed!
  • I did not apply for anything. In fact, the position wasn’t even advertised. I asked about potential opportunities. They asked for my resume, I had a meeting with them, and that was it! Even if you don’t see an open position, it never hurts to ask!
  • Although I haven’t yet graduated or study in the mental health field, I demonstrated good leadership skills and good ideas. Every time I interacted with them I was enthusiastic, and I wasn’t just putting it on – I really am passionate about the cause and the work they do.

Why I Wanted The Job

  • I am NOT expecting it to lead to a paying job. If it does, that would be the best thing that could ever happen to me, but it would be unrealistic to expect that. No matter where you’re interning, even if it’s for a massive company, don’t do it just because you want a job there. Do it because you enjoy the work and want the experience!
  • I had opportunities to take a full time paying job this summer (even if it was just retail). I did this instead because I am passionate about it. I can get a full time job when I graduate! My parents disagree and we’ve had numerous arguments over it, but at the end of the day, I can still support myself, and what matters most is what you want, not what your parents want.
  • Mental health awareness is very important to me because I struggle with mental health issues and so does someone close to me. That’s why I’m willing to go to the lengths that I do in order to work here. I work 7 days a week most weeks. Typically, my schedule is that I work Monday-Thursday at my internship, and then I’ll work Thursday night, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at my (paying) part-time job. I have to do this in order to be able to support myself.

I hope that this is helpful, and I’m looking forward to sharing more of my experiences with you this summer! I’ll be back next month with entry #2. If there’s anything you’d like me to cover, let me know! If you have any questions or want to talk, you can tweet me.

Follow Chelsea on Twitter, Tumblr, and WordPress.

"All I want for Xmas is an unpaid internship in accounting." Image by Newtown graffiti, flickr.

“All I want for Xmas is an unpaid internship in accounting.” Image by Newtown graffiti, flickr.

In most industries, it seems there are more applicants than available positions for full-time jobs. What differentiates the successful hires? Although there are many factors, a solid way to get ahead is to build up work experience. Volunteer positions, active engagement with non-academic organizations on campus, and internships are great ways for college students to start.

The Oxford English dictionary defines an intern as “a student or trainee who works, sometimes without pay, in order to gain work experience or satisfy requirements for a qualification.” My favourite part of the definition is “work sometimes without pay”. This is becoming increasingly common in today’s economy, but the undisputed benefit is the amount of experience gained. There is quite a bit of speculation about the legality of college students and new graduates working as unpaid interns, especially those who put in 40-50 hours per week, while holding weekend jobs that pay just enough to cover their cell phone bills and the next month’s bus pass.

The laws of supply and demand in the full-time workforce also apply to internships; moreso for paid positions. The movie The Internship, starring Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, pokes fun at how competitive it is to land an internship at one of the world’s largest tech companies.

Don’t get discouraged. If you’re reading this article, you’re already a step ahead of the competition. Congratulations on your initiative! Here are the best places to start your hunt for an internship:

  1. Through Niche Websites like TalentEgg
  2. When you think of online videos, I’m sure you think of YouTube. When you think of the online internship hunt, you should be thinking of TalentEgg. The number one online job board for students and new graduates, it should be on your radar throughout your job hunt.

  3. Through your College/University Career Centre
  4. If your academic program doesn’t include an internship option, you should visit the Career Centre. Just as entrepreneurs head to banks to get funding for their businesses, employers head to Career Centres to find new talent for their organizations.

  5. Through your own Network
  6. What if your friend is the brother-in-law’s cousin of the hiring manager for the internship position you so badly want? It seems like a long shot, but according to the theory of Six Degrees of Separation, everyone and everything is six or fewer steps away, by way of introduction, from any other person in the world. That means a chain of “a friend of a friend” statements can be made to connect any two people in a maximum of six steps. Your internship search can and should start with speaking to your own friends and family.

  7. Through your Professor/Instructor
  8. Your instructors not only have industry knowledge – they also have a wealth of industry contacts. Whether they work outside your university or not, it’s worth getting to know your professors and feeling out any connections they may have.

  9. Through Professional Organizations
  10. Chances are a group of experienced people in your desired industry comes together several times a year to exchange ideas and insight about their industry. These groups are looking to educate and mentor the future practitioners of their trade. Get in touch with them and try to attend open events or conferences they host.

You can’t go wrong if you start with these five places on your search for an internship. Make sure when you apply, you follow these basic resume tips to give yourself a great shot at being accepted!

Image by Elvert Barnes, Flickr

Image by Elvert Barnes, Flickr

Friends and family aren’t the only ones checking your social media accounts; many recruiters do research on applicants by searching their names online. If you were a recruiter searching your name, would you like what you see? Several things from your profile picture to the things you post can be huge red flags to your potential employer. Here are some things you can do to prevent putting your career in danger:

Remember the two P’s of posting

No matter what or where you’re posting content, make sure they follow the two P’s of posting: your content is professional and positive. For example, if you want to complain about something, keep it PG and be sure to offer solutions. No one likes a whiner, but everyone appreciates someone who gives good constructive criticism.

Appearance is everything

Your picture tends to be the first thing anyone notices when they look at your profile. Make sure it is appropriate. Check anything else on your profile including text posts, other pictures, links, groups you’re in and things you’ve liked. Ensure that you have nothing on your profile that you would be embarrassed of if a recruiter were to see. This does not only include the stuff that you post. Check to see if your friends have any unsavoury pictures of you posted online.

Privacy settings

Review the privacy settings of your accounts to guarantee that only the people you want can view your profile. However, there are always ways for your potential employer to see your profile. It could be as simple as a shared friend that will give them access, so don’t expect to be safe just because you have all of the security settings up.

Stand out

All of these precautions don’t mean you should stop posting and being an active social media consumer altogether. You should use social media as much as possible to shine in the eyes of the recruiter. Liking Facebook pages or following Twitter accounts of industry experts is a great way to do so. LinkedIn is a wonderful website that helps you get noticed. Make your online presence count by joining LinkedIn groups related to your desired career path and start expanding your network early. If you want to join the public relations field or be a writer, consider starting a blog. Create a website and post your portfolio to let others see your amazing work. Overall, show recruiters that you have a personality and that you are a great fit for their company.

Do a vanity search

Do as the recruiters do and search yourself on the web. Think of yourself as a brand and social media as a marketing tool. Are you marketing yourself well? Not only are you using it carefully, but are you also using it wisely? Most importantly, do you seem valuable enough for your prospective employers to invest in you?