Getting experience in your field

The process of looking for a summer or part-time job is quite different than looking for a full-time job. This page will provide you with tips and advice to help you get experience in your field, bringing you closer to your desired career.

Start early

A great way to get experience in your field is to plan ahead and start looking while you’re still in school. Try looking for summer or part-time jobs that could give you relevant experience and skills that could transfer nicely into your professional career. If you can start planning for your career while you’re still studying, you will be better equipped to land a rewarding job when you graduate.

Employment opportunities as you study

Internshipsco-operative education and apprenticeships can be great options to gain valuable work experience while studying. Sometimes you can even get paid for this work experience! The Government of Canada also offers a number of grants and initiatives to help post-secondary students gain work experience while financially supporting themselves during their studies.

The Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) could help you gain valuable work experience within the federal government. Various departments and agencies hire students to do work related to their areas of study.

Students and recent graduates can find summer job and internship opportunities from across Canada through the Young Canada Works program from Canadian Heritage and Parks Canada. This program includes opportunities to improve second language skills, work in heritage preservation, and work within Canada's National Parks system.

Career counselling

Many post-secondary schools offer career counselling services to help graduating students find jobs. These programs use school-to-employer networks to help find job openings that are applicable to your program and field of study. These counselling services will often help you find interviews in your last year of study, in the hope that you will be able to start working as soon as you graduate.

If your school has a resource like this, it’s an excellent way to reach employers and find job opportunities you might otherwise not have found. Contact your academic counsellor to find out if your school has a career counselling service. 

Volunteering

It’s a smart move to volunteer for an organization or company in your field of study. These positions can not only provide you with hands-on experience, but they can also give you a chance to meet people in a professional setting who can become part of your network. The following page will provide you with more information on the benefits of volunteering and give you advice and resources to help you start getting involved in your field.

Networking

Talking to people you know who work in your field can be a great way to get your foot in the door. Your professors in school can be a great starting point to introduce you to key people and to introduce you to your field.

A great way to get experience in your field is to find a job in the hidden job market.

Top five tips for getting experience in your field

1. Find a mentor

A more experienced person who works in the line of work you’re interested in can help you by giving advice on how they got to where they are in their career. Mentors are a great go-to resource to help answer questions you might have or give you advice on how to approach challenges you might be facing.

2. Do some research

Learn about the organizations or companies in your field that are close to where you live, or in places you’d like to live. You can also find out where the most jobs in your field are. Sometimes getting a job in your field requires you to move to a different part of the country.

3. Keep an open mind

It’s good to remember that careers develop over time, not overnight. Taking a job that might seem unrelated to your ideal career can open you up to new fields of work you didn’t realize you would enjoy, or teach you skills that could help you become a well-rounded employee when you finally land a job in your chosen field. Your first job doesn’t have to determine the rest of your life.

4. Everyone needs to start somewhere

It’s common for employees starting off in a new line of work to be expected to “pay their dues.” This means you might find yourself doing less than glamorous work to start off, but if you keep a learning attitude and do a good job, you will increase your chances of success. You might have to start off at the bottom of the food chain, but that will provide you with experience and open you up to potential opportunities in the future.

5. Take the part-time job

Although you’re probably looking for full-time work, experience gained from a part-time job in your field could help you get your foot in the door and get you one step closer to accomplishing your career goals.