Archive for August 5th, 2009

Working in Canada:Types of Jobs -Serie I-

Working in Canada: Types of Jobs

  • Casual work
  • Internships, placements and exchange programmes
  • Voluntary work
  • Teaching
  • Academic research and lecturing
  • Consultancy
  • Creative industry

There are many types of opportunities for spending time working overseas, both during your degree and after you graduate. Depending on what you want to do, your skills and experience, and the time and funds you have at your disposal, you might consider one of the following:

Casual work

Working holidays are a popular way for students and graduates to earn some money while travelling and seeing a bit of the world, either during summer vacations or for a short time after graduation. Much of the work available is in the hospitality and tourism sectors, for example, in hotels and bars, or working as a holiday rep. Other typical jobs can be as varied as fruit picking to au pairing. The developed economies of Western Canadian provinces offer the best opportunities. Making speculative applications to potential employers, such as hotels, youth hostels, tour companies, etc. may bring good results.

There are a number of useful guides to casual work in Canada, see contacts and resources

Internships, placements and exchange programmes

A variety of short-term opportunities ranging between a few weeks and 18 months are available in a number of Canadian and international organisations, and they can often provide relevant experience for permanent or longer-term employment locallyand overseas. For examples of these, see Local and international employers.

Many Canadian students have the opportunity to spend time abroad as part of their course. This could either be to continue studying at a partner university in Europe, the USA, NewZealand or Australia, or to do paid work in a placement year in a sector relating to your course.

  • Opportunities in Canada may come under the Student Exchange Program Canada
  • Opportunities in USA may come under the Student Exchange Program USA
  • Opportunities in Europe may come under the Erasmus European Exchange Programme.
  • Opportunities in Australia may come under the Student Exchange Program Australia
  • AIESEC (Association Internationale des Etudiants en Sciences Economiques et Commerciales), the world’s largest international student organisation, offers international internships from 2-18 months.
  • The Council on International Educational Exchange (CIEE) can help students and new graduates find internships in the USA.
  • IAESTE (The International Association for the Exchange of Students for Technical Experience) is administered in the UK by the British Council and provides science, engineering and architecture undergraduates with paid work experience abroad relevant to their studies.
  • The Leonardo da Vinci Programme offers funded work placements in Europe, which are available through the European Union’s vocational training programme. All applications must be made by an organisation, so you cannot apply as an individual. However, some universities are members of this scheme, so ask at your careers service to see if this might be an option.
  • Paid work in a sandwich year placement in a sector related to your degree is usually found with the help of your university, which holds employer presentations on jobs you can then apply for. Alternatively, you could find a placement yourself through speculative applications.

If your course does not include a year out, you may still be able to negotiate an individual placement year. Give your tutors a list of what you consider to be the advantages of your  year while in Canada and how it would deepen your understanding of your subject. You will probably need to find the placement yourself but ask if your tutors have contacts in other provinces that you can use. Above all, be prepared to be proactive and persistent.

Voluntary work

There are an ever growing number of organisations providing short-term volunteering opportunities aimed at students and graduates.

These projects are often based in the developing areas, and tend to work with local canadian communities tackling issues around health, social care, education and conservation.

  • Projects generally last from a couple of weeks to several months and are very diverse, ranging from working in an orphanage to assisting with reforestation programmes.
  • The work is generally unpaid and many organisations ask you to finance your volunteering trip through sponsorship or other types of fundraising.
  • For short-term volunteering opportunities you are not usually expected to have relevant experience, but a strong interest in helping others and a willingness to get involved and learn new skills are important.

For all volunteering opportunities, you should check the requirements, aims and philosophies of any agency to which you apply. Have a realistic idea of the contribution you can make and what is expected of you. Most agencies can put you in touch with a returned volunteer who can give you first-hand information.

Examples of organisations offering short-term opportunities are:

  • having a range of volunteering opportunities in different fields, including Vancouver, Calgary and PEI;
  • Parks Canada supplying volunteering opportunities in schools and communities in Nepal;
  • Egale Canada , offering customised volunteer and internship programmes in Canada.


Teaching French or Spanish as a foreign language (TEFL) is a very popular way for new graduates without specialist experience and skills to obtain work in Canada or overseas. Teachers are employed in commercial language schools, state schools, education and development organisations, large companies and the Canadian Council.

No particular degree discipline is required for teaching a language. However, advertised positions increasingly ask for a TEFL qualification. It is still possible to find positions for which a TEFL certificate is not required, but in some cases the pay for unqualified teachers is lower and certain countries will not grant a visa to anyone without a TEFL qualification. Detailed information about entry and training routes, and where to find opportunities, is available at French, English or any other Language as a foreign language teacher.

There is no doubt that teaching provides some of the best opportunities for working overseas. As well as opportunities to teach your language as a foreign language, there are international schools operating all over the world in need of qualified educators. Experienced teachers are recruited to teach the normal range of subjects at primary and secondary level. English is invariably the language of instruction, with the curriculum based on either an American or British model.

Academic research and lecturing

Every year, large numbers of Canadian citizens take up places at American and, to a lesser extent, UK and Australian, universities to undertake postdoctoral research. The academic market is international in scope and some canadian academics are successful in obtaining permanent posts in the USA. The Canada university bulletin  publishes a regular bulletin of jobs in Canadian universities.

The number of opportunities for academic jobs in Europe is also increasing. European Researchers Mobility Portal (Euraxess) is a one-stop shop for researchers moving between EU countries and includes details of research vacancies, fellowships and grants and other practical information.

Research posts and lectureships are increasingly advertised by individual institutions but details can also be found in relevant Canadian journals and through national recruitment services on the internet. Personal contact through collaboration and shared academic interests is also still a key route to securing academic positions overseas for many people.

To be successful in this competitive field, you must have a good academic record at undergraduate, postgraduate and postdoctoral level.


There has been a steady growth in the volume of consulting business undertaken by Canadian companies overseas in the last few years. This is particularly the case in the construction and utilities industries, in areas such as China, India and the Middle East. Consultancy work, especially for experienced professionals, can be found with both large international companies and smaller niche businesses.

Creative industry

The creative arts lend good opportunities for work in Canada, from touring musicians to artists promoting and selling their work. The main markets are to be found in Ontario, Quebeck, Vacounver, and Calgary . Ontario has a leading reputation in the creative industries abroad and there are various government initiatives supporting exports from the sector. This includes the Artists in residence program provided by the Arts Council Canada, which helps those who wish to set up their own fellowship/residency either as an artist or organisation. There is also the Candian Culture site, which aims to promote even cross-border mobility of those working in the sector. It is dedicated to bringing greater cultural cooperation between Canada provinces and provides funding for various projects that help meet this objective.