Monday, March 16, 2015

How to Hunt for an Internship in Canada

By: Ishita Ghelani, Marketing Management student at Humber College
This article originally appeared on i-studentglobal on February 25, 2015

It’s that time of year again when students are either hunting for an internship, a summer job, or first job after graduation. Last year, when I was looking for an internship, I was very surprised to learn that, it typically takes anywhere from around 2-3 months to get hired for even an internship position in Canada. This is often because, the hiring process here is very systematic and the hiring managers often do a thorough background check by contacting your previous employers irrespective of where in the world you may have worked previously.


“As my program at Humber College is coming to an end  …”

As my program at Humber College is coming to an end, it is time for me to put together and use all the amazing tips given to me by my very knowledgeable professors. If you are looking for an internship or a job for the first time in the Canadian Job Market then, do try some of the tips listed below as they might help smooth out your process:

1.    Shortlist your Top 10 companies: Before starting your search, identify the type of industry you are interested in working in. Based on that decision, shortlist the top companies. I usually divide these companies into three different categories – ambitious, moderate, and safe.  This process always helps me set realistic goals and expectations for my search process as by the end of it, I always know in which companies getting a job is ambitious and in which company there is higher possibility of getting hired, etc.

2.    Select Roles: Once you have shortlisted a specific industry and companies where you would want to work, start shortlisting the types of roles you would enjoy. For instance, if you are interested in working in Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) companies, then find out what department you would want to work in: marketing, operations, finance, etc. Once you know you want to work in the marketing department, find out what roles there are in that department such as brand manager, product manager, etc.


“Go For Informational Interviews …”
3.   Go For Informational Interviews: Through informational interviews, you get an opportunity to meet those who are currently doing your dream job. It is very important to understand that you are not asking for a job when you meet people for an informational interview. It only gives you an opportunity to know more about the company, its culture, people, etc. When going to an informational interview, make sure to ask for tips for your internship/job hunt, ask about the latest trends in the industry, the type of job the person you are interviewing is doing, etc. People working in the industry are often very helpful, and they will be more than happy to answer all your questions. Also, if the interview goes well, they might just refer you to speak to someone else within the industry, thus helping you make more connections.

4.    Attend Networking Events: On the upside, attending networking events helps you make connections with industry professionals. On the downside (not really), you will get comfortable introducing yourself to strangers and striking up a conversation with them. When going to a networking event, make sure you have a business card for yourself.  Get comfortable sharing your business card at such events. It will also make it easier for you to ask for a business card from someone you want to connect with. It is not necessary that, every time you share your business card, someone will share his or hers in return. But, 90% of the time, people don’t want to be rude and, as a courtesy, will share their business card with you.


“Attend Networking Events …”

5.    Do Cold Calls: A lot of times, companies don’t post internship listings online. It is worthwhile to call up the companies and ask whether they are currently looking for any interns and whom could you send your resume to within that organization. In the worst case scenario, they will say no. But, if they are looking for interns, you are already ahead of the game by making that phone call.


“Do Cold Calls …”
6.  Get your facts right: Whenever you see a job or internship posting online with a generic email address, call the company. Always ask the company to whom you should be addressing the application. Surprisingly, not everyone does that and it will help you stand out from the rest. It will send out a clear message about how serious you are about the position.

7.  Volunteer: If none of the networking events are helping you make the right industry connections, then volunteer! Volunteer for advertising/marketing annual awards shows or even conferences. These award shows or conferences are usually very expensive to attend and, as a student, you definitely cannot afford to attend. But, guess what!? You can still attend by volunteering for the event. Most of these conferences let the volunteers attend some part of the seminars for free in exchange for their help at the event. These are the events where industry experts come; you should definitely try to volunteer for one such event to connect with them.

8.  Get Help from the Career Centre: Go to your school’s career centre and fix up your resume and cover letter. This is compulsory for international students as oftentimes, our resumes may not be as per the Canadian industry format and standards. Since career centres, just like our professors, have years of experience, they can solve our problems within minutes. It is also good to always get your resume reviewed by at least two to three different individuals, as they may be able to correct your mistakes instantly.

9.    Maintain a Positive Social Media Presence: If you are interested in the advertising and the marketing industry, it is necessary to have some kind of social media presence such as an account on Twitter or Instagram. Most agencies nowadays ask candidates to share their Twitter handle. Also, make sure your Facebook privacy settings are well in place, as you wouldn’t want recruiters to see an unflattering photograph. It is better not to upload such photographs online. Why? If you can’t handle your image and keep your social media presence positive, no company will trust you with theirs!

10. Prepare Your Elevator Pitch: This 30-second pitch briefly describes your current education, past work history, industry of interest, etc. It is crucial not only to prepare your elevator pitch, but also to be comfortable and confident while giving it. It can be used at a networking event or even in interviews for questions such as, “Tell me something about yourself.”


“Prepare Your Elevator Pitch …”
Lastly, never underestimate the opportunities given to you. They may seem not as big as you dreamed of, but every opportunity when taken, takes you somewhere, and it only takes you a step closer to your dreams. You may not be able to connect the dots instantly, but later in life you will be thankful to yourself for grabbing every opportunity on your way to your dream!

Even though the thought of leaving Humber College saddens me, I am excited to start a new journey in my life and see how my life shapes up in Canada.

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