Hosting an Intern – Rules and Responsibilities

How to become a host company to future interns

The team here at Stepwest have placed hundreds of candidates in professional internships in Canada, both paid and unpaid, depending on their study or professional requirements. Throughout the years we have been able to develop our dedicated programs and partnerships in the best way possible in order to make the experience as beneficial and exciting for the intern as well as the host company.

Recent stories of exploitative host companies or unhappy interns have been seen across North America. We feel that this was a problem that needed to be addressed rapidly in order to protect the rights of both the intern and the host company and to counteract this problem we have put in place a strict set of regulations surrounding each internship placement – whether paid or unpaid.

In order to become a host company partner with Stepwest, your company must adhere to our full set of regulations, which are put in place not only to protect the rights of the intern but also to protect you and to showcase host companies who are complying with all regulations in a legal and professional manner. Some of the main requirements to be able to host an intern are as follows:

  • The internship/practicum/co-op should be primarily educationally focused
  • Unpaid Internships cannot exceed 6 months in duration
  • Unpaid internships are only available for candidates who are currently enrolled in an educational program
  • Primary language at the workplace must be English or French (depending on location)
  • The intern cannot replace/displace the role of a paid employee (applicable only to unpaid internship)
  • The host company must be open to onsite visits by Stepwest staff for intern monitoring
  • The host company must adhere to Stepwest’s conflict resolution policy
  • In the case of college/university co-op programs, the internship placement cannot exceed the duration of the education period of the co-op.

Why should I host an intern?

Highly Educated

When you decide to host an intern from Stepwest, you will be able to avail of someone with a fresh outlook and educated background who will bring new ideas to your team and turn out to be an invaluable asset. All of our interns come from international backgrounds and generally speak multiple languages along with bringing wealth of enthusiasm and motivation to your company.

Strictly Regulated

We guarantee that all of our internship programs in Canada fully adhere to our strict set of regulations and employment standards so you can be at ease knowing that you will be part of a well structured program whereby you are not only giving a participant a great international opportunity but you will also be gaining a valuable team member who can bring their educational and professional background to the fore.

Beneficial for all

Throughout the internship program you will be able to offer a great insight into your North American business culture to the intern. Aside from this, you will also be able to obtain great international ideas and concepts from the intern’s educational and professional background. This real-world experience may prove to be invaluable for both sides in the future.

Structured Program

As it can prove to be an expensive procedure to source, hire, train and supervise an intern, the team here at Stepwest has devised a specialized and highly structured program for each intern. Therefore, we are able to match the best intern to meet your company’s ethos and industry principles. We work with several local and international colleges and universities whereby students seek to partake in an internship or co-op, which is related to their course. This means that we can match you with interns who are already specialized in your industry and have a strong grasp of the business culture. Therefore, you can concentrate more on discussing with your team potential projects that the intern could work on once started – cutting out the time needed to source the relevant candidates. Pairing with Stepwest will also give you the peace of mind that you are compliant with all industry standards and that you are giving a driven and well educated candidate a great internship possibility.

How can I create an Internship Program?

Create a structure

By developing an agenda of what it is you want the intern and your company to achieve, you will obtain a far greater insight into how you can plan the day-to-day operations of the internship. Discuss upcoming projects with your team and see what parts will be beneficial for the intern to be a part of. After Stepwest give you a detailed description of each intern available, you can see what aspects you will have the most opportunity in – marketing, accounting, administration or even design. When designing this structure, remember that it is an intern and not a regular worker/employee that is in question. Therefore, the tasks cannot prove to be financially beneficial for your company. They should be educationally focused, giving the intern an insight into your company but also giving you a fresh outlook on different project aspects.

Appoint Supervision

Interns must to have someone who is responsible for their professional development throughout their professional internship in Canada. Therefore, appointing a dedicated supervisor who will be responsible for overseeing their progress will be a crucial part of a successful internship. Interns should never be left alone or in control of a project, office or with clients as they are there to primarily learn about the business. They should be appointed someone who understands completely what the internship means and how it is structured so they can guide them effectively.

Stay Compliant

As long as you and the intern are complying with the regulations set out by Stepwest regarding the placement, you will be fully compliant with all industry standards.


You should regularly review the intern’s progress. As internships are generally short-term, it is a great idea to do a weekly or bi-weekly review with the intern as it will not only give them an insight into their progress and achievements but it will also allow you to see what aspects can be improved or changed to better the experience for both sides. Stepwest also carry out monthly monitoring of all interns and liaise with host companies to better the program for all.

Paid Internships & Unpaid Internships

Stepwest offer various programs in Canada, both paid and unpaid, depending on your program type, program length and applicable visa. Our Student Internship Program is primarily designed for current students enrolled in an Educational Program and are typically 6 months or less in duration. Any internship that is less than 6 months in duration and is directly related to an educational program can be unpaid. For programs greater than 6 months, the internship will be paid in accordance with industry standards and provincial employment standards. Our Professional Year Program and Hospitality Internship Program are paid programs whereby candidates are typically recent graduates and young professionals who want to obtain North American experience in a professional environment. Both of these programs are usually up to 12 months in duration and are paid internships. We also offer various other paid programs such as our Working Holiday Resort Job Program or our Working Holiday City Job Program, whereby candidates can obtain paid casual work in the tourism and hospitality sectors across Western Canada.

When can an internship be unpaid?

A strict set of regulations has been set out to govern unpaid internships across Canada. These rules and regulations are provincial so depending on your location they may vary. In all provinces (excluding Ontario), companies are permitted to host unpaid interns but the internship/co-op/practicum must be in direct relation to an educational program at a recognized college or university. The internship cannot not exceed the duration of the study period or exceed a duration of 6 months (whichever comes first). If an internship does exceed 6 months, then the intern must be notified at the beginning and also must begin to receive a remuneration or salary/wage from the host company. The primary focus of an unpaid internship must be educational whereby the intern can put their educational skills to practical use in a professional environment. This professional internship may also be used as course credit to go toward the intern’s graduation or course completion. Stepwest strictly adhere to all industry standards surrounding unpaid and paid internships and strive to provide the most professional service possible to both host companies and interns alike.