A guide to internships

 

Watch our Internship Info Session!

Do you want to pursue an internship next summer but don’t know where to start? Are you interested in learning about internship resources available for McGill Arts students? The Internship Offices Network has teamed up with the Faculty of Arts Internship Office (AIO), to bring you this internship information session.

What is an Internship?

An internship is a short-term, hands-on, supervised work experience with a professional organization. It provides the student with an invaluable opportunity to apply the skills and knowledge acquired in the classroom to real world problems and enables the student to broaden their understanding of the field. An internship is more than a part-time job or volunteer experience; it includes:

  • Specific learning objectives designed to increase the student’s knowledge
  • Training to hone existing skills and develop additional ones
  • Supervision to guide and mentor the intern

Through their internship, the student is able both to expand their horizons and to engage in a meaningful collaboration with their corporate or community organization for their mutual benefit.

Voluntourism and Fee-based Organizations

Voluntourism

It has been brought to our attention that for-profit “voluntourism” companies have been actively recruiting students. While students are free to take such tours at their own expense, this is not something that the Arts Internship Office can endorse by providing these firms a platform for selling their tours. For this reason, the McGill Internship Offices Network prepares students as much as possible to go with the proper mindset and help ensure that the organizations they work with are both appropriate and willing recipients of our tremendously motivated students. Aside from the fact that such tours fall outside of our efforts to ensure a good learning experience for students, the fact that they often generate significant profits by charging our students steep charges is antithetical to the university’s teaching mission and runs the risk of generating a backlash in host countries that will only make it more difficult for us to find quality internships for our students.

Fee-Based Organizations

Please note that the McGill Internship Offices Network does not fund for-profit, third-party, student-administered, or fee-based organizations which find internships for you. These programs are not eligible for academic, credit, or recognition on the Co-Curricular Record.

Why do an Internship?

An internship provides hands-on experience in a work environment with knowledgeable professionals outside the classroom. An internship can help you make career choices, point you in new directions for further education, allow you to develop new skills, and provide you with valuable qualifications and contacts when looking for employment.

Develop job skills and learn what career is right for you

Internships give you valuable real-world experience. Skills you acquire during your internship may involve new technology, project development, client relations, report writing, working as part of a team and much more.

An internship can help you narrow down what field is right for you, or even exclude certain job fields. The relationships you develop during your internship can also help you determine your career path, allowing you to learn from the experience of others.

Develop contacts and network with experts in your field

The people you meet during your internship can prove to be valuable contacts. You may work under experienced professionals who can play an important mentorship role as you narrow down career choices. Or they may later provide employment opportunities, end up as your colleagues, clients or even competitors. For this reason, it is important to be courteous with everyone you meet during your internship. You never know when you will run into them again. All of them offer potential networking opportunities.

Explore career options

Since it is a limited term and usually conducted during your studies, internships are a great way to explore different career options. Internships can also help you make choices regarding graduate education, allowing you to explore an area of interest before applying to specific programs. 

Just as important as learning what you do like about a job is learning what you don’t like. Some interns discover that their “dream career” is actually not for them. These lessons are just as valuable and can help avert wrong career decisions.

The benefits of internships

An internship allows you to explore career options while working with a specific organization or company, but it can also be your foot in the door. Companies may hire interns on as permanent employees, since they already have work experience and knowledge of the company’s operations, and they have already proved themselves in the field.

At the same time, you can assess the company. Is this a place where you would enjoy working? Is this the right field for you? You may find you need to do a bit more searching and try an internship in another area or with a different organization. 

Steps to an Effective Internship

1. Evaluate what topics interest you

  • What interests you?
  • What do you feel qualified to undertake?
  • What languages can you speak?
  • Are you willing/able to learn a new language?
  • How much time do you have for your internship?

2. Set a realistic timetable

  • Start early!
  • If you are looking for an internship for the summer, start looking in the fall.
  • Set aside some time every week to research opportunities, write cover letters, make phone calls, follow up with organizations, etc.

3. Finding an Internship

Look for potential host organizations:

  • Tap connections with friends and family.
  • Mention your interests to professors and other people who work in fields that interest you and ask for their suggestions and guidance.
  • Talk to students who have participated in internships in the past.
  • Use the Web: it may seem overwhelming at first, but careful searches can yield a lot of information. It can be a useful resource, especially when getting started.
  • Phone organizations. Don’t rely on email alone when approaching organizations. Phone and speak to someone to determine what opportunities exist and to get the name and contact information of the person responsible for interns. Sending email to the right person improves your chances of having your request read. 

Things to remember throughout your search:

  • Be proactive. If you are applying directly to host organizations, follow up on your applications with an email or a phone call.
  • If you do get an internship, make sure to get a letter of confirmation from your host organization saying you will be interning with them. 

Internship Timeline

Here is your comprehensive, step-by-step, internship training timeline to find your summer internship, apply for it, succeed at it, and use it to launch your career. This timeline includes timely workshops, info sessions, and mentorship events throughout the academic year to help you through each step of your search and your internship. Brought to you by the Arts Internship Office and the Internship Offices Network, in partnership with McGill’s Career Planning Services (CaPS) and Youth + Entrepreneurship Montreal (YES).  

Details for all events can be found on our event page!

A poster outlining the steps to a successful internship

Resources for your Internship Search

CaPS Programs and Services

As McGill’s central career service, the McGill Career Planning Service assists students from all faculties, schools and departments at all levels from undergraduates to postdocs. Continuing Studies students, as well as recent alumni are also eligible to opt in to the services. CaPS is distinctive among McGill services in that they support student success both throughout their time at McGill and during the critical graduation transition to work/further education.

For a list of some of their programs and services, click here.

CaPS CV & Cover Letter Guides

The following comprehensive guides have been developed by CaPS to help you during the internship search process. You are encouraged to consult them as you write your CV or cover letter, prepare for an interview, job fairs. Click here.

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