Get started on a tech career this summer with internships

student internThe job market is tight for any kind of summer employment. And, it’s especially tough for high school students who want to build a resume for a future tech career before enrolling in related university or college programs.

Summer internships can help you start climbing the ladder to a high-paying tech career while giving you an insider’s view of what a career at a tech company will be like. Even though many companies offer internships as unpaid positions or low hourly rates, they’re still a great way to pick up valid work experience and a positive employer reference for your resume.

You can start searching now for internships by checking employer career websites, job fairs, community employment centres or knocking on doors of companies you think you’d like to work for. Ask your parents and your friend’s parents to help you network with their professional contacts to shake out hidden opportunities for interns.

Some major companies like Microsoft and IBM don’t distinguish between paid internships and co-op positions which are usually filled by university and college students already studying for careers like engineering, graphic design or tech marketing. The no pay - or lowest pay - types of internships often get a bad rap because they’re almost like volunteering. But it’s up to you to decide how much real work experience and a positive employer reference is worth to your future.

The Globe and Mail recently ran a story - First things first: Getting a foot in the door –  on the value of internships in helping young workers get their careers going in the right direction. The Globe says, “According to a new survey of 1,100 Canadian interns between the ages of 18 and 29, by the not-for-profit Career Edge Organization, 65 per cent said they were in an internship that aligned with their eventual desired career path.” The story also has a list of tips on how to get the most out of an intern assignment.

Another Globe story - Can’t decide on a career? Sample many - describes how “job shadowing” internships can help you decide what kind of career is right for you if you’re unsure of which program to choose at university or college. Toronto high school graduate, Michael Warshafsky, organized a job-shadowing marathon last summer, trying out 60 jobs in 60 days. He figured if he “shadowed a different job every day through the summer, I could get a taste of every possible career.” Warshafsky also said finding professionals to job shadow was easier than he expected. He told the Globe, “People are pretty helpful if you reach out to them in an honest way. Even total strangers were happy to make suggestions of people they knew.”

So, if you’d rather not face a summer of hanging at the mall or playing video games, take the initiative to chase down an internship or follow Warshafsky’s job shadowing example. Read about employers you might be interested in like Microsoft, IBM, Bell, Cisco or Dell at CareerMash’s profiles of Workplaces.  If you aren’t sure which tech career will fit your personal strengths and interests, find the right career classification for you at the CareerMash Types Comparison chart.

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