A Canadian’s Internship Experience

Some of you may know by now that today is my last day as an intern at INTERNeX. You didn’t think you were the only one doing an internship, did you? Many Canadian students also have to complete an internship for their post-secondary education, like me :). I have been a Public Relations intern with INTERNeX for three months now. My main tasks were organizing events, conducting orientation seminars for you guys and doing some design work as well. The time here has gone by so quickly and it seems like just yesterday I was new to Vancouver!

I flew to British Columbia from Ontario on April 28, 2010, excited for what the next three months would bring. I had always heard that Vancouver was an amazing city, and that B.C. was an gorgeous place, so I had high expectations when I first arrived. Ontario is quite a flat province, so flat in fact that on a clear day, the CN tower can be seen from where I live – about 82 km away from Toronto. That being said, you can imagine what I was doing in the cab from the airport: Marveling at the province’s rolling mountains as my eyes darted from peak to peak. That was only the beginning of my most memorable summer experience.

Looking back, I remember dreading the thought of an unpaid internship. The idea of working full-time for a company seemed so unfair and cruel for a student that was already broke from paying tuition. What I didn’t know then, was that my summer internship would prove to be a priceless experience, and the rewards would be far greater than a paycheck.

When you start any new job (an internship is pretty much a job – a bridge between the classroom and a real work environment), you try to imagine what the experience will be like. Will you like the position? Will you get along with your coworkers? What is the office environment like? All of these thoughts raced through my head as I walked to work on May 3, 2010.

As I approached the door to the INTERNeX office, I realized that – as cheesy as it sounds – I was about to open a door to a new experience , and to a new chapter in my life. Internship Tip #1: Breathe.

When I stepped into the office that day, I was greeted with big smiles and polite hellos from the staff. This of course, was a relief, because entering a new work environment can be daunting. Internship Tip #2: Relax and Smile. My first week at INTERNeX was CRAZY, but in a great way. I was able to dive head first into a number of tasks and projects, each one teaching me about the nuts and bolts of the company’s core values and objectives. The more things I did, the more I learned, which brings me to Internship Tip #3: Show initiative. Learn about the company. If you’re done a project, ask for a new task. Help out a busy coworker, even take the office pet for a walk if everyone else is too busy. If you show initiative, this will lead to more responsibility in the future.

Of course when you first begin your internship, there can be a lot to learn. You may suffer a bit of information overload (like I did), so take your time. The company knows you are new. They’re there to help and answer any questions you may have, so when in doubt, ask. Throughout my internship each and everyone of the employees were to help me understand certain programs or visa requirements. All I had to do was ask :).  Internship Tip #4: Communicate.

After learning about the business side of the company, I was able to get to the really fun stuff – events and promotions! Being in PR, this is what I was pumped about! Getting to organize events for clients, and promote partner trips was very exciting to me. My first events with INTERNeX were planning a pub night and a barbecue, both of which enabled me to meet program participants and learn about many different cultures. It was fun to hang out with INTERNeX candidates, but it was also great to hear about their experiences as well. One thing to mention was that because I worked for INTERNeX and became friends with their clients, I had to maintain a professional attitude. This is why Internship Tip #5 is important: Be Professional. Every intern’s duties vary, but you should always be punctual, dressed appropriately and be professional in everything you do.

If you’re looking to complete an internship or are currently completing an internship, remember Internship Tip #6: The Success Of Your Internship Depends On YOU! Someone is not going to hold your hand at work. If you really want to learn, you need plunge into the ocean of opportunity available at the office. There are endless ways to learn and grown personally and professionally in a work environment, so, will you take the plunge?

I can say that my internship experience has been amazing. I have made professional connections, developed friendships, and have learned a tremendous amount. I got to work alongside the owner of the company, the program managers, and other interns. Even Nala, the office dog, taught me something: If you’ve had a busy day, take a short walk outside to clear your head and stretch your legs. You’ll feel amazing.  By following Internship Tip #7: Take Risks, you will find that if you push yourself, you will discover that you’re capable of more than you think ;).

If you’re looking to gain real-world, hands on experience, I would definitely recommend completing an internship. If you have a real sense of adventure, then doing an internship abroad makes the learning experience even more valuable. This world is a huge place. It’s full of great people,  amazing history and beautiful landscapes. What are you waiting for!

Canada is such a beautiful country. Since being in British Columbia I have had the opportunity to see some beautiful, picture-perfect landscapes.  My most recent and most-loved experience was a camping trip to Garibaldi Provincial Park. When you see the following picture, just know that what it looks like to you is nothing compared to when you’re standing in front of it. A picture says a thousand words but seeing with your own two eyes leaves you speechless. This is just one of the amazing places in Canada and I hope you get the chance to see it!

As my day slowly comes to an end, I still can’t believe my internship is almost over! I’ll miss the international staff, the busy atmosphere , even the gurgle of the water cooler beside my desk. But as one door closes, another one opens. Moving on is a simple thing, it’s what you leave behind that’s hard!

Goodluck to everyone in the future, and thank you to everyone at INTERNeX for a life-changing experience.

– Laura

Shinya a.k.a MAX

So last week when I was trying to figure out our next potential candidate for the “expose” post, I was wracking my brain trying to find someone that could truly give us a glimpse into the “INTERNeX experience”. Little did I know but I had this person right in the office with me sitting across the room. Can you guess who it is? It’s Shinya! This once shy Japanese boy came to Canada and managed to see more places and do more things in one year then I’ve done in the past nine years that I’ve lived here. So yeah since he did just about everything that was possible and participated in every one of our programs he is the perfect candidate!

What is your name?
My name is Shinya but my “Canadian” name is Max

Where are you originally from?
Kobe, Japan

Why did you choose Canada as the location of your placement?
Well I’d been to Australia and New Zealand so Canada just seemed like the next stop for me

How did you find about INTERNeX International Exchange?
I found about it through the Japanese Embassy

Which program(s) did you participate in throughout your stay in Canada?
Well I actually participated in all three of the programs offered by INTERNeX

haha O.k. well let’s take this one program at a time then…What was the first program that you enrolled in?
Initially I started off with the hospitality program because I thought that this would be the best opportunity to improve my English skills and truly immerse myself into the Canadian culture. I was placed in Lake Louise, Alberta and for the first month I was a Dishwasher then when the second month came around I continued to do Dishwashing but in addition to this I was both a server and a clerk in the resort gift shop. After a total of 3 1/2 months working at the resort I moved back to Vancouver and applied for the PR/Communications internship offered by INTERNeX at their Vancouver office. The reason why I chose to taken on this position was because I thought that this would be able to take my experience to the next level and be that final step towards breaking me out of my shell. I was an intern at the office for 5 months but due to the fact that the internship was unpaid I had to find another means of gaining an income so I could continue to stay in Canada. Thankfully INTERNeX was gracious enough to set me up with a coffee shop located just a few blocks away from the office in Gastown. It was at this location that I worked as a Barista for 4 months. Then during the 2009 Christmas Break I decided since I’d already done the other two programs why not do it all…so i enrolled in the Ranchstay program. For two weeks I was placed on a mixed farm in Montana where I had many “firsts”. For the first time in my life I rode horses, fed cows, herded buffalo and took care of numerous farm animals. This was definitely something that will stay with me forever. And last but not least, most of you know that Vancouver was the host of the 2010 Winter Olympics so before I returned home I thought what better way to end my trip then to try and get a job in the Olympics…so that’s what I did. I hired on as a member of the event service staff who were responsible for assisting media personnel and essentially acting as security by ensuring that everyone had the correct accreditation in order to gain entrance into the media tent. Throughout the few weeks that I worked there I met a considerable amount of athletes/celebrities. Some of the most memorable ones are Aiko Uemura, the Japanese Mogul Skier, Russian Figure Skating silver medalist, Evgeni Plushenko, Gold Figure Skating Couple, Tesse Virtue & Scott Moir, and last but not least BC Premier, Gordon Campbell

What was one of your most memorable moments of your entire stay?
I would have to say it was throughout my entire hospitality placement. It was such an entirely new and scary experience for me. For the first time in my life I was living all by myself in a foreign country where I knew no one. At first it was really hard but the staff that I worked with soon enough became my family and all my previous fears were completely gone!

If you to choose one program that you would recommend, which one would it be and why?
The internship program because it really helped me to grow on both a personal and professional level. Even though it is not a paid position the benefits that you reap are invaluable and it truly helped me to make lifelong connections with people from all over the world. Every day I was exposed to something new and I cannot even begin to explain how this has made me who I am today

What are some of the skills that you gained from your internship placement?
Good customer service skills, communication skills both intra and inter personal, building trust and numerous web site building skills

What one place/event/festival would you encourage people to check out?
Definitely Stanley Park. This amazing park, less than a mile from downtown Vancouver, is one of the city’s main tourist attractions and offers over 1,000 acres of an evergreen oasis. The park is full of wildlife and sometimes there is just nothing better then just to relax and take in the natural surroundings…it truly made me forget at times that i was still in the city

So what are you planning on doing once you return home to Kobe?
First i am planning on going back to University and to continue on with my environmental studies and I am also working on maintaining my connection with INTERNeX by recruiting Japanese University Students for the Ranchstay program. So it’s not really over yet…

If you have any more questions or queries about our programs please do not hesitate to contact us at the office:

INTERNeX International Exchange
Suite 200 – 211 Columbia Street
Vancouver BC -V6A 2R5-
Web: http://www.internexcanada.com
Phone: +1 (604) 662 8149
Email: info@internexcanada.com