What students and prospective employers should know to get the most out of the experience
Many post-secondary schools require students to complete internships and co-ops as part of their degree before they graduate, but what should they expect to gain from it? Luckily several employers that hire interns are moving away from the stereotype of bringing in students to fetch coffee and work for free, and the government has regulations in place that give students rights and help prevent them from being taken advantage of. If interns are given the proper environment to learn, they can prove to be a vital part of a successful company.
Alberta Advanced Education reviews ‘practicum’ practices at 26 institutions
Unpaid internships are far from new to the student experience as soon-to-be graduates sacrifice a paycheque for hands-on, resume-building training. But the value of these unpaid stints has become a hot-button issue following the death of an Alberta student.
Students proving to add value to the workplace
Alberta industry professionals say that students working with them as interns are more than just cheap labour. Interns can increase productivity, offer valuable insight and create constructive brand awareness — given the right environment.
Unpaid internships illegal, except for university credit
Free labour is a growing issue among Albertans, particularly with students being “exploited in their efforts to gain work experience,” said Andrew Langille, general counsel for the Canadian Intern Association.
“They are being taken advantage of,” said Langille. “I think if somebody is doing work for an organization they should be paid.”
On-the-job learning advances classroom education
Coffee runs, photocopying and late nights have long been the stereotypical tasks of a student’s first professional work experience.
And while some students may wonder if putting on the work uniform while still in school is really worth it, work experience co-ordinator Jane Hawkins says she sees no cons to work placements while studying.
Hawkins, whose job consists of co-ordinating work terms for the policy studies degree students at Mount Royal University, says, “I see them as positive in all aspects.”