It is that time of year again – students are looking to secure summer internships and employers are looking for affordable and experienced talent to help them continue to grow and thrive. Summer student internships are a great way for corporations to build long-term pathways to great talent, and can sometimes lead to jobs for students. At University Canada West, we’ve identified what employers and students need to know as they embark on their respective searches.

For Employers: How to create a mutually beneficial experience for your summer interns.

1.    Partner with post-secondary institutions to find the best interns for your business needs.
Connect with your local college or university to see how they can ease the process, or, where their students can add value to your company. It is a win-win!

For example, at Riipen, a Vancouver-based ed-tech, “Engaging students early in our company showcases the culture, builds the brand, and gets them excited about working with us,” says Dana Stephenson, CEO. According to Dr. Hamed Taherdoost a professor at University Canada West, “If employers don’t have time or the training capacity, universities can play this role for you. Give us your problems and we’ll find the solutions. Faculties can play a key mentorship role for the students throughout their placements.”

2.    Define a project for the intern to work on, with concrete goals and objectives.
Having meaningful projects at work is crucial. Studies show employees are 43% more likely to work hard if they can see firsthand the impact they make on a project.

What does this mean? Your summer interns are not just for photocopying and getting coffees. They need to see that they can meet specific goals and objectives related to their assigned projects. Adopting this approach to internships can unlock potential in students, and you might even end up with new solutions that you didn’t realize were possible.

3.    Be flexible.
If anything, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us that we could do nearly anything from home. For the past two years, students have learned and employees have worked remotely. It is an employee’s market, and the fight for talent is tough.

Some candidates might be applying for your internship but planning to continue their studies simultaneously. Alternatively, it might be financially challenging to move to a big city centre for an intern role. Offering a flexible or hybrid working scenario might make your internship posting more attractive. In fact, 83% of workers prefer hybrid environments.

While this might not be every intern’s ideal scenario, offering flexibility opens up a new list of candidates to consider for internship opportunities, that otherwise might not have applied.

For Students: How to find the right internship for you.

1.    Take stock of your hard and soft skills.
Make sure to summarize the technical skills you’ve learned, but don’t forget about your soft skills too. Communicating a balance of soft and hard skills in your resumé and CV will make you shine as a potential candidate.

In fact, a study by LinkedIn shows that 57% of employers value soft skills over hard skills. The idea is that if you already possess effective soft skills like communication, teamwork or time management, employers can coach you on hard skills you need to perform themselves.

2.    Network.
In an increasingly digital world, many barriers that once existed to networking have been removed. As a student, you have access to a network of classmates, professors, alumni and career services. Use this, and LinkedIn, to your advantage and have as many discussions as you can about internships and career possibilities. This will ease the process of deciding which internships are worth applying for. And, you might even meet someone who can help you land your dream job.

3.    Take advantage of student-specific resources available, while you have them.
Students looking for internship opportunities have access to an array of great services that are in place to help student candidates land great internships. Do not wait until the end of your final year of study to access them.

At University Canada West, our Career Development Centre offers career development resources such as reviewing of resumés, cover letters, interviews, job search techniques, networking and coaching.

Once you have the tools, it is time submit applications. Unsure where to start? Try searching on Indeed and LinkedIn (bonus: you can send a message to the recruiter!), sign up for the Government of British Columbia Youth Employment Program, ask your professors and classmates, or apply directly on company websites that peak your interest.

At University Canada West, we offer internships for students. In the last year, UCW has brought on more than 40 paid interns who worked across a variety of departments including Student Affairs, Marketing and Communications, Health & Safety and the Library.

Published on June 3, 2022.