Whether it is to earn money to pay for college expenses, explore different career paths, or gain work experience, many U of T students are scrambling for summer jobs and internships right now. If this is your first time seeking such a position, below are some things to keep in mind so that you can find an internship or summer job that best suits your needs and stand out in a massive pool of candidates. 

Know the differences

Since summer internships and summer jobs are seasonal — meaning that the employment is a temporary job with a pre-determined end date — what differentiates an internship from a job in Ontario is that internships come with a learning agenda, focusing on gaining skills and professional development.

Internships can be paid or unpaid, depending on the company. However, unpaid internships might not be the best choice if you need financial assistance.

Larry Afun, a third-year physiology and immunology student, found his paid internship opportunity through the ELITE Program for Black Youth. He believed his experience as an intern at a scientific research lab solidified his passion for science, as his supervisor was open to teaching him new skills. For instance, Afun had the opportunity to learn about starting a business.

“Part of the contract involved me working on a mock business startup… I was being paid to learn about business in the context of scientific endeavours and then do research. It was a brilliant opportunity,” he told The Varsity in an interview.

Where to look

Students can find summer internships and jobs offered by the university’s faculty, staff, or third-party employers under Jobs and Recruitment on the Career & Co-curricular Learning Network (CLNx). 

However, the university clarifies in its Non Endorsement Statement that it is “not responsible for the practices of employers or conditions of off-campus employment opportunities.” According to the statement, “students and graduates are responsible for researching organizations and verifying the employment terms and conditions with the employer before applying to or accepting opportunities.” 

If you cannot find anything that sparks your interest on CLNx, you can also turn to job boards. While Indeed is one of the most commonly used job boards in Canada, students can also consider looking at public platforms — like the Government of Canada Job Bank and Ontario Public Service Careers — and other private companies — such as TalentEgg, Workopolis Campus, and Magnet. Many jobs posted to these platforms are targeted toward students and recent grads. 

If you are an international student, you may work on or off-campus without a work permit, but you must have a valid study permit, a valid Social Insurance Number, and a full-time student status. There are no restrictions on the number of hours an international student can work on campus as long as they meet the eligibility criteria above. However, international students in Canada can currently only work up to 20 hours per week at an off-campus job during school terms.

Finding the right job

Now that you know where to look, the Career Exploration and Education Centre says you should ask yourself the following questions about your previous academic or work experiences: what did I enjoy in the experience? What made the experience meaningful? What skills did I develop or enhance through the experience?

Answering these questions can help you narrow down your options. The Academic Advising & Career Centre at UTSC offers an Online Self Assessment that walks students through these types of questions. 

It is equally important to read each job description carefully and research the company by visiting its website and reading online reviews on sites like Glassdoor before applying for an off-campus position. This prevents you from falling victim to job scams and toxic work environments

U of T also offers several internship opportunities, including the Arts & Science Internship Program and the Sidney Smith Commons Summer Internship

Annie Yan, currently a student engagement coordinator at Ontario College of Art and Design, attended U of T as an international student. During her time at U of T, Yan worked for the Sidney Smith Commons as an intern. 

She encouraged students looking for summer internships to apply for jobs using CLNx. Yan also emphasized connecting with professors or university staff. “At this age, money matters, but not as much.” She explained, “It’s your experience and your [connections] and all these things that matter more.” 

Selling yourself

According to the Harvard Business Review, employers look at résumés for seven seconds on average. This means every word counts on your résumé and cover letter. To captivate recruiters, résumés, and cover letters should be tailored to the hiring company’s needs, objectives, and values. 

To get started with your résumé and cover letter, you can refer to the Résumé Workbook or Résumé and Cover Letter Toolkit provided by the university’s Career Exploration & Education Centre.

Editor’s note (February 5): A News article published in Issue 16 entitled “The Breakdown: Summer internships and jobs” stated that international students in Canada can only work for a maximum of 20 hours per week at an off-campus job. While this is true during school terms, this rule does not apply during scheduled school breaks.