Top 5 Tips to Find an Internship in Canada for International Students

April 3, 2020
Posted in Student Internship


UPDATED: NOVEMBER 2021.

Are you an international student or graduate trying to find an internship in Canada, but don’t have enough experience? Finding the right internship opportunity can make a big difference to successfully starting your career. But finding your internship can prove difficult when you don’t have much, if any, work experience. 

At Stepwest, we have helped interns from all over the world land career-defining roles in their field of study – many who had little or no previous work experience. In this post, we sat down with our lead internship expert to get her five best pieces of advice for successfully landing an internship in Canada in 2022. So, whether you’re an international student looking for a summer internship in Canada or a career-driven traveller or graduate seeking a one year internship in Canada, discover our top tips on getting an internship in Canada with no experience.

Why Should I Get an Internship in Canada?

First things first, why Canada? If you are from a country that holds an active agreement with Canada under International Experience Canada (IEC Canada), then Canada is the perfect place to gain real-world work experience. An internship in Canada will open doors for your future career and be a valuable asset for your CV. Canada is consistently hailed as one of the most liveable countries in the world, which, coupled with an incredible array of internships available across every industry, has all the ingredients for a pretty great work-life balance. If English isn’t your first language, this is also a great opportunity to practice your English. 

Christiane during her Engineering Internship in Vancouver!
We helped Christiane from Germany land an engineering internship in Vancouver.

Stepwest is a Recognized Organization of the Government of Canada. We assist students from around the globe with finding their perfect work experience opportunity and complete career-boosting internships in Toronto, Vancouver, Montreal and Calgary. Just ask our intern Christiane from Germany! She completed an internship in Vancouver to support her studies in economics and mechanical engineering before starting her Masters.

Meet Cassandra, Stepwest's Internship Expert

Meet Cassandra, Our Lead Internship Specialist

Cassandra is our Lead Internship Specialist at Stepwest. She graduated from Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C, Canada and has a background in sales, business development, and administration. While previously working for a large Canadian telecommunications company, she sharpened her ability to build connections in her professional network. This experience helps her to identify ideal opportunities for our interns, by determining their key strengths and potential for professional and personal growth. She updated us on what employers are looking for when hiring international students for an internship. 

Being an Internship Specialist at Stepwest means she is responsible for the success of your internship experience. This includes:

  • An internship consultation to make sure we can provide you with an internship in Canada that aligns with your career goals.
  • Resume revisions to make your internship application stands out from other applicants and lands you an interview!
  • Interview preparation to be ready to interview with Canadian host companies.
  • Coordinating your internship with the host company including getting the necessary documents required for your work visa.
  • Making sure that you can safely travel to Canada to complete your internship, complying with all the COVID-19 regulations for your trip!

Cassandra has worked with hundreds of students from all around the world seeking a wide range of professional careers and knows everything you need to find an internship in Canada. Here’s her best advice for landing your dream internship experience in Canada in 2022:

Tip #1: Start Your Internship Search Well in Advance

Finding an internship in Canada takes time, now more than ever. Not only because of the hiring process, but also to secure your internship work permit in Canada (International Co-Op). Processes for visas and permits after COVID-19 have been affected, so the sooner you start the better.

In order to allow for the extra time needed to organize your international internship, we recommend you start your internship search at least five months in advance of your desired start date. We recommend this because the visa process can take from eight to 11 weeks, and you can only start your visa application once you have an internship offer from a Canadian company.

Securing an internship as an international student or graduate takes time, and even if your school asks you to start your internship in September or October, we recommend you start the process between January and March.

Find internship canada - stepwest
Starting your internship search early will ensure you don’t run out of time to organize your trip.

Tip #2: Adapt Your CV Format

A good CV (known as a resume in Canada) will be your strongest tool in your internship search. From one country to another, the CV format is different. In Canada, there are specific do’s and don’ts that you should keep in mind when putting together your CV.

To adapt your CV to the format used in Canada, we recommend the following:

  • Title the file ‘Resume’ as the term ‘CV’ is not used in Canada.
  • Develop your resume as much as possible without going into too much detail. Try to keep it to one or two pages maximum. The purpose of your resume is to highlight your best selling points and invite questions from the host company in the interview. Putting together a robust resume is something we can help you with on your internship program.
  • Do not include any pictures or personal information such as your date of birth, age, gender, marital status, etc.
  • Make sure you have a professional contact email address with your first name & last name included.
  • Use chronological order on your resume, starting with your most recent experience and ending with your oldest experience.
  • Make sure you include the duration of your experiences (month/year).
  • Do not include primary school, start with secondary school if you made notable achievements during this schooling. Otherwise, start with your university or college program.
  • Where possible, translate names of previous schools/universities and academic programs so that your Canadian employer understands your education background.
  • Write out the full names of previous companies and schools and do not use abbreviations or terms not known outside of your home country.
  • If you did any sort of training or education program or remote internship from your home country during the COVID-19 lockdown, make sure to include it!
Samira marketing internship in Canada
Samira from France chose to do her internship in Canada to improve her English skills.

Tip #3: Value Your Skills and Volunteer Experience

Are you thinking that you won’t be able to find an internship because you don’t have enough work experience?

You’re wrong. Just because you do not have a lot of work experience, does not necessarily mean that you won’t be able to land an opportunity. It may be a bit more challenging, but it’s not impossible! 

Focus on your education, skills, and any past volunteer experience you may have. For the work and/or volunteer experience that you do have, be as detailed as possible about your roles and responsibilities. Even if you’ve only had one job, describe exactly what you did and any accomplishments you had during your time there. This helps give the prospective employer a detailed understanding of your work ethic and most importantly – your potential!

In addition, do not hesitate to include any experience you might have from helping your family business. If you worked during a summer for your parents or uncle’s company; or covered for one of your family members while he or she was away – this is real work and this experience is valuable as well! Canadian companies will value any experience you’ve done!

Tip #4: Spend Time on Your Internship Preparation

It is imperative to research the company prior to the interview. It will provide more context about the role you will be doing, what the company does, and also allow you to feel more confident and prepared for the employer’s questions. Make sure you know as much as possible about your potential company before your interview. 

If you secure your internship experience through Stepwest, we will guide you through the interview preparation process and give you a heads up about what to expect during the interview and information about the company work structure during COVID-19. Remember that we are facing a new reality so depending on your industry, many companies are allowing employees to work remotely or are combining working at the office and from home.

Also, make sure you prepare questions to ask at the end of the interview. This part is very important as it shows you have initiative and a genuine interest in working for their company.

Some example questions you could prepare ahead of time to ask include:

  • How many people would I be working with?
  • Who would this role report to?
  • How do you think this role will help me develop my skills in (your) industry?
  • What is the biggest challenge this role will face?
  • What do you enjoy most about working at your company?
  • Where do you hope the company will be in five years?
  • How is the work dynamic at this time? Is the whole team working remotely or are you working on a hybrid schedule?
Claire digital marketing internship in Canada
Claire from France completed an internship of a lifetime in Digital Marketing in beautiful Vancouver.

Tip #5: Consider Other Industries for Your Internship

If you have little or no previous work experience, we recommend not focusing your job search on just one industry. It is important to remember that when you are starting your career, you should seek opportunities to develop your skills. Many skills are transferrable across different industries. It’s better to find an internship that will provide you with the best opportunity to build your skillset. Then you can use these newly developed skills to move into your desired industry when you return home.

The most common industries for internationals in Canada are marketing, finance, and engineering. However, Canada overall is a country with a lot of internships in many different industries.

If you’re a business student, for example, we recommend you focus your research not just on one specific specialization like marketing or finance. Instead, target several areas that could allow you to develop important skills such as problem solving, communication, teamwork and creative thinking.

Applying to different industries will improve your chance of landing an internship in Canada.

Secure Your Internship in Canada!

2022 is coming full of opportunities for an internship in Canada, but you will be facing a few challenges. Would you like to avoid the long process of looking for an internship? We have the right solution for you! At Stepwest we can help you secure an unpaid internship in your field of study in one of Canada’s top cities: Vancouver, Toronto, Montreal or Calgary.

In addition to a guaranteed internship placement, we will help you with everything you need to complete an internship in Canada. This includes:

  • Resume revision, and interview preparation
  • Assistance with your work permit
  • Welcome orientation when you first arrive in Canada
  • Setting up your social insurance, bank account, cell phone, accommodation, travel insurance and more
  • On-going support from our team in Canada for the duration of your internship

One Year Internship Canada 

If you are looking for a long-term paid internship, we can help through our Hospitality Internship program. This program is aimed for Hospitality Management and Gastronomy and Culinary Arts students interested in completing their education with international work experience, which is extremely important as it can define your future career!

You will be able to work at a top hotel in the Canadian Rockies in Alberta or in famous destinations such as Whistler in British Columbia! Our Hospitality Internship program, and the experience you will get through it, will give you a competitive advantage in the job market and contribute to faster career progress.

This is one for hospitality students looking for experience in the hospitality industry, with the added bonus that it is paid! 

Summer Internships in Canada for International Students 

If you are looking for an internship for summer 2022, make sure to connect with us right away, so that you have enough time to organize your internship visa application. Please note that the processing times can be between eight to 11 weeks, and that’s only after you are already hired for an internship, so we highly recommend you to get in touch with us at least four months before your desired start date!

Getting started is easy. Simply fill out our online application form and our team will get back to you shortly to discuss your internship potential in Canada for 2022!

Apply Now

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