As part of my Master’s degree, the expectation of the degree is I get a cooperative education (Internship or work placement as many people know it). This gives students the chance to put into practice all they have learnt in the classroom in a real work environment. There are usually tonnes of opportunities for students in this category in Canada. I felt it was the best opportunity to gain more experience, try out a different career path and for me to understand what I want professionally.
As an International student, you are required to apply for a coop work permit to allow you to work full-time as part of your education requirement. The application is free as it is part of your study permit and visa payment. The only supporting document you will need is a coop letter. The process could take 3 months or more. Check the Canadian Immigration website for more information.
The last four months have been low in terms of finding an internship. I started applying for coop jobs casually hoping one would come soon. I started off applying to only opportunities within Halifax, but as time progressed I began applying outside of Nova Scotia. Also, I was comparing the job hunt process to how easy it was to find a part-time job in less than a month. Little did I know that four months in, I am yet to get a placement. I would say I was a bit too relaxed with the expectation that my university will sort me out in terms of placement (so they said ). I already knew from the get-go that the Canadian experience was a very important thing to have especially as a foreigner which is why I took up a part-time job. I discovered the importance of Canadian work experience by reading Black Immigrant blog. Read her guest feature post here. I thought that would be an added advantage and employers would not read too much meaning to my foreign experience on my CV.
My class is filled with International students, and only 2 people have been able to secure a placement. Some students have decided to go back to their home country to have an internship while the rest of the class is left with no opportunity. I took a class with majorly Canadians this semester and those who were pursuing coop opportunities this summer have been able to secure a place. Whenever I bump into an international graduate student and we get talking, I find out they are searching for a coop placement, the story is the same as mine. It brings the question of if there is a bias toward foreign work experience or whether the priority is given to Canadian students.
I initially thought I was doing something wrong so I sent my CV to an HR professional in Toronto to review and He said I do not have to change anything on my CV. The Coop office at my University has looked at my CV and cover letter as well and said everything looks good. The person who attended to me stated not a lot of people in my program have been able to get job interviews. So far so good, I have only had 2 interviews after over 100 job applications. I have made use of different websites – indeed, monster, LinkedIn, career beacon and so much more.
If you have any tips on how to navigate through getting an internship position in Canada, please share them in the comment section.