Each year, more than 1,000 students find their internship, practicum, or co-op placement through an Experience Education program. Students work in dozens of different fields across Canada, and in both official languages.
While most students are placed with an existing host company, nearly a third are placed with new host companies - either those that apply through our website or those that we recruit for a specific student. As a prospective host company, you have a lot to gain from hosting an intern, practicum, or co-op student.
Unpaid Internships, Stipend-Paid Internships, and Co-Op Placements
Experience Education manages three different types of work experience programs for our partner schools. These programs differ in duration, student background, and expectations and requirements on host companies.
Unpaid Internships (Practicums)
These are short-term work experiences of 400 hours or less (done over 4-16 weeks), in which a student works and trains at your company. They work directly under a supervisor in their desired field, they job shadow, participate in projects, and gain exposure to many aspects of your business. These students work in non-essential roles, and cannot do the work of an employee. However they are eager and welcome to join in on 2nd tier projects that give them a better idea of your sector - projects such as introducing new quality control measures, looking at impact of new regulations on your business, investigating best practices, supporting a one-off project, conducting market research, and more.
NB: In British Columbia, ‘internships’ are called ‘practicums’. Any mention of the word internship or intern on this page should be read in BC, as practicums and practicum students.
Stipend internships start at 400 hours and go as long as 960 hours. Students in stipend placements go a step beyond unpaid interns and do more hands on work - though they still cannot take the place of an employee, and still must have an on site supervisor in their field. In order to ensure these longer-term internships are open to students at all income levels, we ask host companies to pay students a weekly stipend - or 'honorarium'. Experience Education invoices companies for this stipend and pays students on your behalf - with a portion of the stipend fees collected by Experience Education being used to help offset program costs.
Co-Ops differ from internships in that they are real jobs. Co-op hosts pay students minimum wage or above, and place them in an entry-level position connected to their field of studies. Co-op students are able to contribute to productive work, and fill a role that could also be filled by an employee. Experience Education co-op students are generally doing 'capstone' placements - these are work experiences done at the end of their programs of study. Many of these students will be looking for full-time work at the end of their co-op terms, and where possible, choose to remain with their co-op hosts long term.
We regularly ask co-op and internship hosts why they take students, and what they get out of it. Almost every great host tells us the same thing - that they were in an internship or co-op program when they were in school, and now that they’ve succeeded in their careers, they want to give back, and to mentor students who are just coming up in their field.
Additionally, many host companies believe that they have a responsibility as a member of the business community to provide opportunities for students.
Where either of these intangible motivations is present, both hosts and students are happy, and fulfilled in their roles.
Whether it’s a short-term unpaid practicum opening, or a year-long fully paid co-op job, there are ways for companies at every level to give back and to contribute.
Interns and co-op students come to work with enthusiasm, motivation, and infectious energy. Nearly every company that hosts interns talks about how they are challenged by them, by their hunger for more and more projects, and their desire to learn and experience as much as they can at the company. Interns bring a new perspective - not just on your day to day work, but on your staff relations, on your industry, and on projects you've had on the back-burner.
That said, interns do take up staff time and consume resources - even if they are unpaid. But what they return to you and your staff, in terms of energy and commitment makes it all worth it.
THE BEST AND THE BRIGHTEST
Internships and co-op placements are restricted to people with good grades, who go to class, and who - by the very act of signing up for an internship program - show their serious-mindedness and career focus. Experience Education works primarily with international students - most of whom are coming into the program with previous degrees and work experience - making them standout against an already qualified pool of candidates.
Unpaid interns and stipend-paid interns are often assigned to special projects on their placements. These can include researching new government regulations and developing policy, probing new markets, doing SWOT analyses, or sourcing and testing new online tools to help your business operate more efficiently. These are projects that would be difficult and costly to give to a regular staff member, but are ideal for students.
In our co-op program, students can get more involved in hands on work from the entry level on up. They are cost effective, learn quickly, and, being temporary, they give new businesses the chance to create and try out a new position without the risk of long-term fixed costs.
SECURITY AND CLARITY
There are stories in the news all the time it seems, about unfair and unethical internship programs. We read about companies getting sued by former interns. We know that no one sets out to break the rules - but when the rules aren't written down anywhere, it can be hard - and we understand why some companies have had problems.
We help you avoid those problems. We've read the rules, we've talked to lawyers, to employment standards branches, to provincial and federal bureaucrats. We have invested a great deal of time and money on learning how to structure an internship program so that it is within the letter and the spirit of the law.
When you host a student through Experience Education, you can be certain that the placement meets all the requirements of provincial and federal law, that it meets federal immigration requirements, and that you are creating a legitimate and rewarding learning opportunity for a student.
Experience Education hosting guidelines are set by federal and provincial regulations, and in part by our partner institutions. To be eligible to host an intern or co-op student, your business must meet the following minimum requirements:
The intern to on-site employee ratio cannot be greater than 1:5
Your company must be registered with your jurisdiction's workplace insurance body or provide proof of exemption
The company must be located in a safe, transit accessible location
The primary language of the workplace must be English (or French if in Quebec)
The company must have a website that shows your current address
Besides these requirements, each placement has requirements, including making your workplace available for inspection by EE staff, agreeing to participate in Conflict Resolution before terminating a placement, and agreeing to sign a placement agreement document with EE for each student you host.
Creating a Good Hosting Environment
A good hosting environment is one that sees the relationship between student and host as a partnership, with each side contributing - and each respecting the placement as a learning opportunity.
Every education-based placement needs a key person in charge of the student who they can go to on a regular basis for reporting, learning and advice. In unpaid programs this person will have daily contact with the student and will often give them written instructions. In stipend paid and coop programs, the contact could be less, but will still be done on a regular basis to ensure the academic validity of the placement. In most cases, the supervisor should be in the field the student is looking to work in - so if the student is doing a marketing internship, the supervisor should be a marketer.
The workspace should be in a dedicated office, or - if it is a home-based business - an entirely separate part of the home from the living area with other employees present. The workspace should include a desk and chair for the student and a computer. If there are several interns at your company, we recommend distributing them around your workspace, rather than clustering them in an ‘intern pool’.
Duties are laid out in a training plan and placement agreement, and should be adhered to. Contrary to the stereotype, interns can’t get coffee, and shouldn’t be tasked with repetitive database or filing work. Work needs to be meaningful, and for unpaid placements, distinct from work that your staff would normally be paid to do. Due to cultural differences, some students may be reluctant to request new duties, but they are always eager to be assigned them - we suggest checking in with students regularly to manage their work load and see if they need more to do.
Unpaid placements are entirely unpaid - but stipend-paid and coop placements are paid. In stipend-programs, hosts are asked to pay a $325 weekly fee to be used as a living allowance, with a small portion reserved to cover program expenses. In co-op we ask that you pay the minimum wage.
How it Works
We want to make it easy for you to host an intern or co-op student. Here's the process from start to finish:
Read the eligibility and placements requirements on this page to make sure you qualify to host a student
Fill out the form at the bottom of this page
EE staff will review your form, research your company, and schedule a call with you to discuss hosting students.
When we have a student that matches your company profile, we will contact you with their resume. If you're interested in the resume, we will arrange an interview between you and the student. For new companies, an EE staff member will typically escort the student to the interview and conduct an onsite inspection at this time.
If the student passes the interview, we work with you to draft an Internship Placement Agreement (or Training Plan) describing the placement.
The student starts their internship or co-op.
Register to Host a Student