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Practicums, Internships and Co-op Placements

Nowadays, many employers narrow the talent pool by opting to hire their staff through student placement programs. These types of programs offer employers the ability to choose from candidates who – first and foremost – are interested in working in the industry, which helps them take some of the guesswork out of the hiring process.

As a student seeking to gain industry experience while still in school, these types of placement programs can be extremely useful in helping you gain work experience while also contributing to your overall career goals.  Check out the Work Experience Directory to search for co-ops, internships, volunteer, and project work in BC’s tourism and hospitality industry.

Realizing the important role of practical work experience, many educational programs include student work placements as part of their curriculum.  While adding to the theoretical teachings of the classroom, these programs also offer students the opportunity to explore this vast industry.

Student work placements generally comprise three forms:  Practicums, Internships and Co-operative Education Placements.  Below, you’ll find more information on each of these programs.

  • Practicum:  Considered unpaid volunteer work conducted for a short period of time.
  • Internship:  A term of work as part of a post-graduate program; this type of placement is sponsored by the respective corporation/organization and must be paid.
  • Co-op Placement:  Considered a midway option, a co-operative placement is a paid position for a specific block of time spread through the student’s educational program.   In order to graduate, the students’ total work term requirement is between eight to 12 months.  Co-ops always finish on a semester, with students returning to the classroom at the end of each work term.

Similar to any relationship, work placements require balance and value for both parties.  Students are expected to manage their work responsibilities with great focus and dedication.  During the placement process, employers specifically seek out students who demonstrate positive attitudes and an ability to work as part of a team.

When in a work placement program, students should continually strive to make a positive contribution and leave a remarkable impression as opportunities could arise (whether sooner or later) to grow professionally with the company.

Similarly, employers are also expected to provide students with quality work and responsibilities, as well as valuable earning opportunities, to help complement their tourism educational program.  To learn more about your legal obligations as an employer, read Caution: You Need To Pay Your Interns.

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