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  • Lori A. Jazvac

The Value of Paid Internships for Career Development

As a Certified Resume Strategist, I work with many new graduates on a daily basis – fresh out of university – armed with a new degree, but not all of them possess a clear career goal. Many recent graduates have not had the opportunity to explore their career options in detail. Equipped with a new hope and optimism for the future, they are eager to unearth the vast inventory of experience and take their skills to the next level.

Every day I hear exciting career stories of graduates who have completed internships and gained an enormous return on investment. The other day I created a stand-out resume for a new graduate exploring an internship in labour relations with the public sector. Structure and routine are important values in his career. I am also working with a student who is preparing for her summer internship in environmental engineering – a high-demand field these days. Her goal is to make a tangible contribution by improving her environment and raising awareness about important environmental issues. Gaining such practical hands-on experience is becoming a popular way to not only stimulate business growth, but personal growth as well.

New graduates, if you are uncertain about your career path, don’t be afraid to explore and test the waters. Look upon this time as a unique opportunity to freely try on different hats. Whether that means a local internship or one abroad, this is your chance to unleash your full potential.

Leadership Skill Development

An effective way to explore your options is through investing in a paid work placement in areas that peak your interest and challenge you. You will receive valuable mentoring in exchange for developing valuable leadership skills. Many new graduates have successfully completed internships and have gain increased confidence, clarity, and recognition for their innovative achievements.

Here are 13 useful strategies that will help you build your career:

Apply for internships through the private or public sector.

Invest in internship opportunities in areas that are interesting and meaningful to you. The public sector offers different internship programs with good compensation.

List all your skills and interests.

Outline all your diverse competencies and interests. Then come up with possible roles of interest and investigate them. Narrow your focus on the ones that matter to you the most.

Take the research challenge.

Consider what problems or challenges that you want to solve in your career or targeted field. Why should the employer hire you? What specific and unique value do you bring? Asking yourself these questions is the key to fuelling your authentic purpose and pointing you in a fruitful career direction.

Coordinate informational interviews.

Ask questions about careers of interest. Talk to professionals either face-to-face and/or via social media about career options.

Investigate labour market trends.

Access HRDC, specific associations, National Occupational Classification (NOC), newspapers, company websites, alumni networks and other mediums to look into labour market trends. Do some research at the library. What do the prospects look like for your field? How and where could you contribute the most?

Refresh your brand with a new resume and LinkedIn profile.

Have both your resume and LinkedIn profile customized by a Certified Resume Strategist. Develop your unique brand that sets you apart from the competition. Connect with professionals regularly on LinkedIn. Keep updated about industry and market trends.


Invest in offering community leadership skills in an organization that you are passionate about and that aligns with your values. Get involved and stay connected. Your next volunteering role in the non-profit sector could lead to a rewarding career opportunity.

Job shadow professionals.

You will quickly find out what a typical day is like at a certain job and what are the highlights of this role and the drawbacks.

Assess your workplace values.

Do thorough research on what you need in a workplace and organizational culture. Do you want stability? Does creativity matter? What about workplace flexibility? These values are crucial to pinpoint beforehand.

Unleash your entrepreneurial side.

If you are a natural leader and want to venture out on your own, now is the time to take the risk, explore your options and do your research.

Stay connected with your alumni network.

Explore career opportunities, practical internships, and meet-ups through your alumni network. Keep in touch with recent graduates. Find out what your peers are doing and exchange creative ideas.

Engage in creative self-reflection.

Write out a vision and mission statement. Keep a log or journal. Find out: what are the criteria and values that you would enjoy in a career and what don’t you enjoy doing? This will help you gain clarity concerning your career.

Develop and maintain your marketable skills.

After conducting informational interviews and self-reflection, uncover what skills do you need to work on or require additional training? Training can be both formal or informal through self-study, online, or working towards a certification.

Today, internships are not only beneficial for marketable skill development, but allow new graduates to connect with leading professionals while growing their careers.

An internship may take you on an interesting path that you never anticipated with your career.

Trust – have faith and fun in the career exploration process..and you will achieve your career goals!

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