What is a practicum and why would you do one?

IMG_2807A practicum or internship is intended to supplement education; it is meant to familiarize and acculturate a student to operational business practices in a relevant organizational setting. Practicums are designed to give students the chance to get real-world, hands-on, career-relevant, specialized experience in their industry.

The quality of a given practicum will depend on a number of factors, including: university requirements, industry sector, relevant experience/education, the time of year and duration, not to mention the specific conditions of the host organization. Done correctly, practicums are the best possible way to put theory learned in school into practice and to broaden ones business network. Most practicums are composed of unremunerated participation in an operational business environment or occupation in order to gain a functional insight into the industry sector and business processes. In some cases candidates may be paid a stipend or basic salary though this should not be the main consideration when organizing a placement; if you an afford it, you should focus on he content of the placement rather than whether or not you get paid… Practicums should be primarily for the benefit of the student and designed to give candidates the chance to both observe and participate in operational activities in order to better understand the hosts industry sector and work environment.

Practicum students and hosts should be absolutely clear that a practicum is not a job. Practicum students should have the chance to participate in and explore different aspects of the host organizations operations and different roles with in the organization. Activities and tasks should mostly be project-related but can include some operational day-to-day tasks as well. These may not always exciting but are a necessary part of any practicum, however these sorts of tasks should not comprise more than 20% of practicum activities; it should not be about making coffee any buying donuts. Practicums should be non-supervisory in nature though candidates are given some real responsibility and accountability for the tasks they undertake. Placements are designed for the benefit of the candidates but are in real, functioning organizations and due care, an understanding or processes, limitations and protocols as well as a professional attitude are critical. Ultimately a practicum requires a lot of flexibility and a participant that can adapt to the style, culture, processes and environment of a host organization.

Have a look here for the specific requirements employers need to meet to host a practicum or internship student in the USA

J-1 Visa an option for Canadians wanting internships in USA

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INTERNeX can now assist Canadian post-secondary students with the J-1 Visa application if you have found an internship or co-op placement with a company in the USA. Once you have secured a placement offer from a U.S. employer, we will assist you and your prospective host employer in navigating the whole J-1 visa process.

We can also help you with resources on finding an appropriate internship based on your specific area of study and university requirements as well as accommodation options and a social program in many of the cities in the US where we have regional representatives. We make sure everything meets the standards set forth from the State Department concerning your placement and that you will have all the support necessary to be successful during your stay in the US including…  an opportunity to engage local culture.

The program includes:

  • Determining your eligibility for a J-1 Visa
  • Determining your prospective host companies eligibility to host you
  • Ensuring prospective hosts that they have created a proper training plan
  • Supplying you with the necessary paperwork for the visa
  • Processing your program application
  • Providing you the required accident and sickness insurance that exceeds State Department requirements
  • Ongoing support and assistance throughout your program as necessary

Requirements:

  • You must be a student currently enrolled in a degree or professional certificate program in a college, university, or other post-secondary academic institution in Canada (note you do not need to be Canadian citizen, you just need to be enrolled at a Canadian institution)
  • Or; you must have graduated from one of these institutions within 12 months of the planned internship start date
  • You must be between the ages of 18 and 38.
  • Internships must be directly related to the your academic field of study
  • Interns must be at least halfway through their degree programs before their program start

Check out all the program information here