Did you know that March is National Co-op and WIL Month in Canada?
Earlier this month, Outcome Campus Connect hosted a webinar for post-secondary students in partnership with RBC Future Launch called “The Student Survival Guide to Finding a Co-op or Internship Placement.”
During the hour-long session, the expert panel shared their insights on current work-integrated learning opportunities (WIL), provided practical advice and tips for remote networking and recruitment, and answered student questions about finding a great placement during COVID-19.
If you’re a post-secondary student who is looking for a placement right now, here are seven tips from the experts that can help make your search a success:
There are many places you can look for WIL experiences, says Cara Krezek, CEO, CEWIL Canada and Director, Co-op, Career & Experiential Education at Brock University. She suggests connecting with on-campus incubators and your school’s WIL or career services office, networking as much as possible, applying for subsidies and grants where possible, knocking on doors to bring your ideas forward, and even turning classroom projects into co-op opportunities.
These are not business-as-usual times for job seekers. Krezek notes that during the Covid-19 pandemic, the overall number of placements available on career job boards on campus has gone down by about 15 per cent.
This is the time, she suggests, to be open and flexible with your job search. “Think about the skills you’re developing and not job titles,” says Krezek. The labour market is very much evolving, and there are many different types of opportunities out there. And be sure to stay on top of the trends and news in your industry, because that will help even during the interview process.
Brien Convery, the National Director, Early Talent Communities and Inclusive Recruitment at RBC Canada, has a few guidelines for networking success: approach it as part of your career and your future, and not as a ‘game’; seek to make friends instead of contacts; and do your research and be prepared when you show up. Know that networking is a skill that you’ll get better at with practice, and keep in mind that it should be a two-way street.
Even as a student, you likely have a lot of relevant experience you can include on your resume and talk about during your search, says Convery. Besides any paid jobs you’ve held, remember that you can include experiential learning and life experiences as part of your job application.
In her role as the Executive Director of the Canadian Alliance of Student Associations, Kalin McCluskey works with many student leaders across Canada. Her key advice for job seekers looking to make a lasting impression? “Put your best face forward, whatever that is,” says McCluskey. “Make it polished, and make it you.” When you are presenting your authentic self, you will feel more confident—and potential employers will notice!
Jasman Bisram, a recent graduate from Brock University, recommends students reach out and ask for “virtual coffee chats” with individuals already working in their field. “9 out of 10 people that you reach out to will say yes,” says Bisram. Take that opportunity to really get to know them, learn from their experiences and, if possible, develop authentic, lasting connections.
Ready to get started with your search? On Outcome Campus Connect, which is funded by Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC) and created in partnership with Orbis and Magnet, you can search for placements, jobs and opportunities specifically targeted at post-secondary students and recent graduates.
For more expert tips to help you find a work-integrated learning placement, watch the full webinar below.