Tips to landing meaningful work experience

Dear Working Wise: I am in my second year of university and I’m wondering how I can get some work experience related to my fields of interest?

Dear Working Wise: I am in my second year of university and I’m wondering how I can get some work experience related to my fields of interest?

I’m majoring in political science, with a minor in French.

I think I’m destined to work in Ottawa one day, but with the slow job market right now, I’d like to graduate with some relevant work experience. Do you have any suggestions? ­— Eager Student

Dear Eager Student: Getting some related work experience certainly will help your job prospects upon graduation. Students can try to land themselves some meaningful work experience in a number of ways.

• Use your school’s career services office. Many employers, including government, use post-secondary school job boards to post summer student, work experience and other job opportunities.

• Let your network of friends, family and professors know what kind of job you are looking for — you never know who you might be able to reach through your social network.

• Call a few people who have your dream job and ask for an informational interview so you can learn more about the occupation and how to break into it. During the interview, ask about opportunities for volunteer positions, job-shadowing, entry-level jobs or leads on jobs in other similar organizations or positions.

• Check out the Canada-Alberta Job Bank at http://jb-ge.hrdc-drhc.gc.ca/ starting in April for potential summer student positions.

• Visit the Public Service Commission of Canada web site at http://jobs-emplois.gc.ca/index-eng.htm and check out the student work experience programs they have, including the:

• federal Student Work Experience Program;

• Co-op/Internship Program;

• Post-secondary Recruitment Program;

• Recruitment of Policy Leaders Program.

• have one other suggestion for you. You may want to apply for the Quebec-Alberta Student Employment Exchange Program.

The Alberta and Quebec governments co-operate to hire post-secondary-degree students for a summer work exchange every year. The program offers a chance to live, learn and work immersed in your second language for the summer.

This partnership creates work experiences related to the student’s field of study within the provincial government for those with at least a working knowledge of French.

Exchange students receive round-trip airfare to Quebec, their first week’s food and accommodation costs, a salary of $13 per hour, planned group activities and the opportunity to work alongside students from other provinces.

This year, the governments are exchanging up to 40 students studying a degree program from each province for a 13-week work placement that begins in May 2010. Last year, students who worked for the government of Quebec filled positions such as graphic artists, archeologist assistant, researcher, biologist, communications agent and tax auditor.

Each year brings new opportunities and jobs for students studying in an array of different industries. The job you could be matched with depends on your level of French and your field of study and career plans. Jobs have historically been available in Quebec City, Montreal and Rimuski. So, you get to earn money for school, practise your French, experience Québécois culture and gain valuable work experience with the Quebec government.

For more information on the Quebec/Alberta Student Employment Exchange Program, visit www.employment.gov.ab.ca/step-qa or call 780-422-5082.

Good luck!

Working Wise is compiled weekly by Charles Strachey, a regional manager with Alberta Employment and Immigration. Work-related questions can be sent to him at charles.strachey@gov.ab.ca. Working Wise is provided for general information only. Help with specific situations is available through Alberta Employment Standards by calling 1-877-427-3731.