When CIRHR student Susannah Cao applied to the Arts & Science Internship Program (ASIP), she was hoping to get a leg-up in a competitive labour market.
“I realized that it’s becoming increasingly more difficult to apply for a job after graduation if I don’t have any work or research experience,” she says. “ASIP allows me to complete a co-op work term which, in turn, helps me gain valuable work experience that prepares me for my future career.”
Now in its second year, the ASIP is a unique co-op program that combines access to employers and work-placement opportunities with interview and workplace-readiness courses.
“We’re working hard to develop work term opportunities for students across a wide range of industries. The ASIP business development team regularly does outreach and attends relevant professional events to engage new employers. We’re also partnering with other co-op programs at U of T to make it easy for employers to hire U of T co-op students across different Faculties and Programs,” says Libby West, Associate Director of Student Learning and Professional Development. “When one [department] receives a co-op opportunity it gets advertised to all students across our units, thus increasing the variety and access to opportunities.”
This is a big win, not only for the University of Toronto's diverse student population across multiple departments and campuses, but for employers too.
“From our perspective, we get to capitalize on the eagerness, fresh ideas, and novel perspectives that the younger generation brings,” says Nicole Mombourquette, Senior Project Officer with the IDEaS program at the Department of National Defence. “From the student’s perspective, they get a chance to see what type of work is available to them once they finish school; sometimes it helps reinforce that they are heading in the right direction, and other times it’s an experience that propels them in another direction.”
She goes on to say, “With an open mind, a willingness to learn and contribute in their unique way, a workplace experience can be a really cool opportunity to learn a little bit more about themselves and where they want to head - a way to grow their professional network and make a little bit of money along the way.”
We’re very happy to report that fourteen of our undergraduate CIRHR students have been onboarded to ASIP this year where they’ll receive robust training to make themselves more competitive to employers.
“Competing for an internship opportunity is a tough process,” says Ms. Cao. “However, ASIP and their courses prepared me to write a resume and advertise myself during the interview process. My program coordinator has also been there every step of the way to guide me through the application process, and went over interview techniques with me one-on-one.”
In addition to interview readiness, ASIP offers professional development courses that help students develop transferable skills, market and articulate themselves to stakeholders, and demonstrate their skillsets to employers. “We lead them through professional development modules,” says Ms. West, “like sustainable development, design thinking, universal design, project management, and workplace communications, which they complete with support from an industry partner”. The program also delivers modules on workers’ rights, health and wellness in the workplace, and tips for success in those critical, early days, weeks, and months in a new job.
Ms. Cao tells us that the program has also been uniquely valuable to her as a student in the CIRHR. “I’m getting a first-hand view of what the HR department thinks and what the recruitment process looks like… It feels a little like having a cheat sheet.”
Applications to the Arts & Science Internship Program are generally open from June to July with offers going out in September. For more information, including eligibility requirements, admission criteria and general application instructions, please visit https://www.artsci.utoronto.ca/current/academics/asip.
Organizations interested in hiring a student for a co-op term, participating in mentorship events like career panels or resume workshops, or just learning more about different ways to engage students in the workplace, can write to email@example.com to learn more.