Finding an internship placement is similar to a normal job search process. However, the primary goal is to find a placement that provides a great learning opportunity related to your academic and career goals.
The more clear you are about what you want to do, the more valuable you will be to the organization and the more you will learn what you want to. Below are some questions to consider when deciding what type of placement and where would be a good fit.
Questions to ask yourself
Placements in domestic and international locations, and in any sector of work will offer great opportunities for learning and applying your skills as a PACS student. It's important to understand what you hope to gain and how each placement will help you achieve your goals. If you're unsure, discuss your hopes and concerns with the Internship Coordinator to help you find the right fit!
1. What causes or issues matter the most to me?
Research organizations to determine what kind of work they are doing and whether their mission is in line with your values. Working for a cause that you're passionate about will make the experience more significant and beneficial for both sides.
2. Do I want to work in a situation that uses the skills I already have, or do I want to do something different?
- Consider what skills you can bring to your placement, either professional skills, specific training, or soft skills (good listening, friendliness, openness, etc.).
- Consider what skills you'd like to improve on or develop, and see how an organization might benefit you in that way.
- The goal is to find a balance between what you can offer and what you'd like to learn.
3. What would I most like to learn from my placement?
An internship is a learning experience so it's important to know what you want to gain from it and look for an organization that will best help you achieve it.
4. What don't I want to do?
- To make sure you enjoy your internship, it's a good idea to identify what you don't want to do and what your limits are.
- At the same time, don't be afraid to step outside of your comfort zone, as some of the most valuable learning experiences come from things that are difficult or challenging.
5. Who do I want to work with? What kind of environment am I looking for?
- Consider if you'd like to work more independently or in team situations.
- Who will benefit from your help? Do you want to work with a specific group, such as children, elders, refugees, etc.?
- Are you interested in working in a multicultural environment?
- Consider the size and structure of the organization. Would you prefer working for a large or small organization? Smaller organizations are generally best for "self-starters", whereas larger organizations might have more structure in place for volunteers.
- Make sure the structure of the organization is set up to help you accomplish your objectives.
6. How much time can you afford to spend?
Internship placements can be pursued full or part-time, however, international placements must be full-time.
7. Is a domestic placement right for me?
A domestic placement within Canada might be a good fit if...
- you're interested in learning / engaging with social problems found in Canada
- you want to develop networks and connections with possible employers (and want to pursue a career in Canada).
- you want to pursue an Internship part-time
- you are looking to minimize costs
8. Is an international placement right for me?
An international placement outside of Canada might be a good fit if...
- you're interested in learning / engaging with international social problems
- you're interested in completing the Internship full-time
- you want to be immersed in another culture and have significant opportunity to engage with and learn about another culture
- this includes a willingness to accept and respect different cultural systems (such as male-dominant authority, hierarchical leadership, different police and military systems, etc.).
- Many countries prioritise relationships over time. This means that things may take longer than expected and there is more room for spontaneity.
- Many countries, particularly developing countries, have challenges with power and corruption. It's important to be aware of the risks, such as being asked for bribes, being hassled, or being threatened. Understanding these risks and how to mitigate and handle them is important for ensuring a positive international placement.
- you are flexible and able to deal with change and unfamiliarity
- you are generally healthy
PACS Career Guide
The PACS department has developed a Career Guide (PDF) for our Master of PACS students. This guide can also be used to aid in your exploration of career options and possible internship paths.
Centre for Career Action
The Centre for Career Action at the University of Waterloo is an amazing resource for students. They offer workshops, one-on-one appointments, and online resources to help you figure out your long term goals and planning your career path. This is an excellent resource to utilize as you begin your search process.