Summer is coming up! That means the weather isn’t going to be in the negatives and maybe a small break from school. But for many, it also means trying to get some practical experience with your program. Most deadlines are at the end of this month or early to mid March so if you’re interested in internships/volunteer work, now is the time to apply! The Career Learning Network is a great resource to help you find positions on and off campus (https://cln.utoronto.ca/home.htm). If you want more personalised responses however, a great way to learn about opportunities is by talking to your professors. From my experience, they can almost always help you get what you want, as long as you have the qualifications, demonstrate the knowledge and show some interest.
In my Cognitive Psychology class last year our professor spoke about Research Assistant positions for the summer and I was slightly hesitant to apply because I wasn’t sure if it was my area of interest. However my professor strongly advised me to apply anyway and I was so glad I did because after the interview I was able to get a position in the Adult Development Lab, which was a better fit for what I was interested in. My point is when you haven’t worked in a particular environment before it’s always helpful to have someone who knows much more about it advise you on what your next steps should be. Even if Professors are not sure themselves, they always have tutorial assistants (many of who completed their undergraduate degrees at U of T) who will gladly tell you about their on and off-campus work experience and guide you with yours.
Another useful resource is your program department. Most program departments have undergraduate and graduate administrator’s that will pretty much cover all your concerns in terms of what you need to get to your desired career path — your required credits, grades, and work experience. I would strongly recommend talking to your department before your professors if you have concerns about a grade requirement to get into a program or the number of courses required to get into graduate school or the kind of work experience that will help you climb the ladder. In summer 2016 I was able to go to Chicoutimi with the Explore (a French immersion) program and it only started with a simple “I’m not sure how I’m going to finish the required credits” to the French undergraduate administrator. She helped my friend and I with all the information we needed and it made for both a great summer and a whole lot of French outside the classroom! If you’re interested in getting a credit for a language course outside the city, an immersion program is a fun and refreshing way of spending your time in the summer. The Explore Program is also completely free for Canadian students (other than transport of course), if you are interested you can read more about it here — http://www.myexplore.ca/en/.
Here’s a picture of my friend and I in summer 2016, when we did the French Explore program (Chicoutimi)!
I hope you use reading week to think about these opportunities and more importantly, formulate questions for your professors, tutorial assistant and program departments so they can help make this summer (or the next) one full of new experiences and discoveries.