Trying to change careers? Aimless networking can’t beat a paid internship.
Q: Hey Jill! I’ve been reading your commentaries in the Metro for some time now and I must say I enjoy your personable expertise in the area of employment issues. Hopefully you can make me a happy reader, too!
Do you know of any networking workshops or conventions I could attend? I’m currently looking for a position in the banking industry and I want to speak to successful and experienced people in the field (i.e. managers, VPs etc.). I’ve changed my career field from tourism(I graduated from a two-year program at Seneca College in 2004) to banking and since then, I’ve been finding it difficult to land a field specific position.
I’m looking for something entry-level where I can get real hands-on practical experience, either as an employee, preferably, or as a mentee. Any help you can provide me with would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
A: Hey Damian! Thanks for writing in. I’m glad you find my comments useful. Sadly, I too drop the ball sometimes, like when I recently gave a reader wrong information about workplace breaks and standards — there was no shortage of readers who gave me the correct information, so thanks! —but I think I might be able to make you happy this time.
I think RBC Financial Group’s partnership with Career Edge, www.careeredge.ca, might be a great starting point for you. RBC Financial Group was one of the founding corporate sponsors of Career Edge.
Career Edge is an internship program that offers paid entry-level internship positions for recently graduates looking for work who may not have a great deal of experience in the field.
They offer six-, nine-, or 12-month paid internships within Canadian organizations in order to help graduates launch careers in their field of interest.
Their partnership with RBC involves placing interns to work in different departments within RBC Financial Group. RBC is reportedly the largest private sector participant in the program. (Career Edge also has a program called Ability Edge, which helps place graduates with disabilities in paid internships, and one called Career Bridge, specializing in job placement for internationally trained professionals.)
Aimless networking certainly can’t beat getting a paid internship where you’ll be learning for an extended period of time from seasoned staff which will likely include your wish list of managers and other seasoned decision makers.
While an intern there or wherever you might decide to connect with after registering with Career Edge (there are banking-related positions in tourism too you know!), I suggest you make the HR department your new best friend.
Be sure to keep your name fresh in their minds with updated resumes, in-person visits, queries about new positions or even just opportunities to be a mentee or to assist with special projects. The idea is to be seen and heard. Don’t just be another passive intern responsible for photocopies and coffee.
Here’s something you can do today: drop by your personal bank. Assuming you’ve been doing banking there for years, chat with your personal advisor or a teller. Ask questions, and be direct in asking for a five minute chat with the bank manager to see what opportunities may be right under your nose (read: walk with your resumé and always be ready to pitch).
Lastly, send out an eyes- and-ears e-mail to your friends, former instructors and colleagues. Let them know about your interests and some of your most current experience (including academics, i.e. grades in finance, accounting, etc.) so that they can assist you. Never be afraid to ask for help or to make it clear what you want.
- Should you ever have questions around workplace standards or treatment like Jean Taylor did on office breaks please visit the Ministry of Labour site www.labour.gov.on.ca, www.e-laws.gov.on.cafor the Employment Standards Act of Ontario (Sec.20 deals with breaks) or for general information www.gov.on.ca or call 416-326-7160. Don’t be the victim. Take action. You will most certainly be helping other employees too! Thank you to Philip R.A. Hooker, barrister and solicitor with Mills & Mills LLP, and other Metro readers who provided vital feedback both personal and factual on this topic!