Ask Ainsley, Student Life

Ask Ainsley: Finding your perfect summer internship

Dear Ainsley,

I have been stressed out of my mind and completely flipping out trying to find an internship. It’s now the end of February, and I feel a low, dark hopelessness creeping in. My mind is a never-ending swirl of  “Have other people really applied to 50 internships already?” “Should I pick something directly related to my career plans?” “Is that even an option at this point?” “Am I lowering my chances if I’m looking for something outside of Montreal?” I wish everything was just in one place. Could you please help?    


Freaking out over Internships (FOOI)   

Dear FOOI,

I’ve been in your shoes. You didn’t secure that stupidly-high-paying-CV-bedazzling bank internship the second the clock struck 12:00 on the new year, and now you’re stressing. I’m here to tell you not to count yourself out just yet—there are still so many options available. You don’t have to just take my word for it. I sat down with a couple of experts who assured us that it’s going to be okay. 


If you’ve heard it once, you’ve heard it a thousand times: Network, network, network! But how do you actually go about establishing connections, and how do you call on them when the time comes? 

Career Planning Services (CaPS) Director Darlene Hnatchuk offered some insight into the best practices in an interview with The McGill Tribune

“I would cold contact people on LinkedIn,” Hnatchuk said. “I would maybe cold contact some smaller organizations having found a name to whom to send the application and what I would [think, is] do I have any kind of connection?” 

Establishing contacts can be as simple as finding an organization that you’re interested in, looking at their LinkedIn page, and seeing if you have any sort of connection to someone who works there. Maybe they’re a McGill alum or share similar interests. Just go for it and reach out. Hnatchuk explained that when people are in a position to help students, they almost always will.  

Use McGill Resources

Resources like the CaPS, MyFuture, and the Arts Internship Office (AIO) websites are great ways to find your perfect summer internship. 

Catriona Arnott, U2 Arts, participated in the Faculty of Arts Internships Mentorship Initiative (AMI), where she signed up as a mentee and was assigned a mentor who guided her through the internship search. Through talking to that mentor, Arnott learned about the funding awards available within the Faculty of Arts.

 “It’s very accessible, and they have a lot of awards to give out,” Arnott remarked, stressing those searching for internships to take a deep dive into the internship offices of their faculty and CaPS.  

Each faculty has its own specific internship office with specialized opportunities, and CaPS works with students from all faculties. Using these resources can open you up to a world of new opportunities, while advisors and mentors can point you in the direction of positions you may never have even thought of. 

Experience > Everything

One of the biggest concerns for many students is wondering how a future career, or even graduate school applications, might be negatively affected without “the perfect internship.” But Hnatchuk reassures students that there is no such thing. 

“There are different ways to be gaining experience. It doesn’t have to be, you know, exactly, directly aligned to what you want to be doing in the future,” Hnatchuk said. “We just need to be able to think about and reflect upon what are those skills, areas of knowledge [that my desired career requires] and figure out well if I didn’t get it here, maybe I can get it from someplace else.” 

If you work hard at whatever job you’re doing, you’ll be guaranteed to gain skills that’ll help you in your desired career down the road. Your “uncommon” experience might even make you a more attractive candidate.

So, there you have it, FOOI. This is by no means an exhaustive list of ways to find an internship or advice, but it is the truth: It’s not too late, there are still amazing opportunities out there, and you can do it. Good luck, and happy internship-shopping!

Share this:

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.


Read the latest issue

Read the latest issue