5 Tips to Find an Internship in Canada with Little to No Experience

April 3, 2020
Posted in Student Internship


Are you trying to find an international internship in Canada but don’t have enough experience on your CV? 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 sit down with our lead internship expert to get her five best pieces of advice for successfully landing an internship in 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 while improving your level of English. An internship in Canada will open doors for your future career and be a valuable asset for your CV.

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

Stepwest is a proud 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. 

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.

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:

Tip #1: Start your internship search well in advance

Finding an internship in Canada takes time. Probably more time than in your home country. In order to allow for the extra time needed to organize your international internship, we recommend you start your internship search at least 4 months in advance of your desired start date. We recommend this because the visa process can take up to 8 weeks and you can only start your visa application once you have an internship offer from a Canadian company.

Securing an international internship 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 June.

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 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 dont’s 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 around 1-2 pages long 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.
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.

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 5 years?
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 internship canada

Secure your Internship in Canada!

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

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!

Apply Now

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