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Getting Canadian Experience


As a newcomer, you may find one of the most difficult aspects of looking for work is getting Canadian experience. Many employers look for Canadian experience to show you are able to fit into to the Canadian work environment.

This can mean having the right communication and language skills, familiarity with work expectations, and understanding Canadian workplace culture. It can also mean proving that work experience or skills from your home country are similar to Canadian standards.

This guide discusses how internships and mentorships can help you find suitable work in Canada.

What is an Internship?

An internship is on-the-job training offered by an employer to provide you with practical experience. Often internships are offered to recent graduates of a degree or diploma program to improve your resume and gain experience in your field. There are also internship opportunities that help newcomers to Canada gain Canadian experience.

Internships are normally for a set time, usually 3 to 6 months. They can be either part-time or full-time hours.

Note: Because internships are considered “work” by the Employment Standards Act of British Columbia, all advertised internships must be paid positions.

Occasionally internships will be advertised as unpaid experience for school credit. This type of experience is actually classified as a practicum in British Columbia.

Internships and practicums are different. A practicum is part of your formal education in college or university. Practicums are not considered “work” because they provide hands-on training required to complete your degree or diploma. No wages are paid for this type of work experience; instead you get credit toward your education.

Protect Yourself

In British Columbia, it is illegal to advertise unpaid internships. If a company does not offer at least minimum wage for work done during an internship, it is in violation of the Employment Standards Act of BC.

The only types of companies that can advertise unpaid positions are not-for-profit or charity organisations looking for volunteers. Volunteer positions are not covered by the Employment Standards Act.

Finding Internship Positions

Internships are posted on many job boards

    A search of “internship” in Vancouver will pull up a range of internships.

What is a Mentorship?

Mentorships are one of the most successful strategies to help you find suitable employment.

Mentorships are programs that connect internationally-trained professionals with your Canadian counterpart. They can help you meet and learn from other professionals in your field.

The benefits of having a mentor include:

  • building your network
  • meeting new people
  • gaining an understanding how things work within your industry
  • increasing your knowledge of Canadian workplace culture

For more information:

Finding a Mentor

As a newcomer to Canada, it can be difficult to find a mentor. A number of options are available specifically for newcomers like you.

For career mentoring:

For small business start-up mentoring:

  • Futurpreneur Canada
    A mentoring program for young newcomers aged 18-39 who want to start a small business
  • Mentorship BC
    Lists mentoring programs available for small business owners

Additional Resources