For many young Canadians, an internship teeters on that fine balance between weeks of unpaid labour, work experience and that hope you may just land a job with your dream company. And if numbers are any indication, the percentage of people willing to walk that tightrope is on the rise across the nation.
A 2009 poll of graduating students by the Canadian Undergraduate Survey Consortium revealed that 55 per cent had completed an internship, co-op program or other practical experience, up from 35 per cent in 2000. In the United States, the numbers say something similar. According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers, 50 per cent of 2008's graduating class held internships, according to the National Post.
In the U.S., a debate has erupted around the legality of hiring interns, citing the challenging environment some interns face with little to no financial compensation for their work. This is complicated by the requirement from many university and college degrees for graduates to receive credit for their time at a placement. In Ontario, anyone who works for a credit is exempted from the Ontario Employment Standards Act, meaning that they're excluded from certain rights like vacations, the option to buy into a company, sick leave and the big one -- a wage.
Still, for Meg Button, the associate art director at Totem, a Toronto advertising agency, her time at Totem as an intern was what what helped her secure a job later in life.
"For me, it was a great time to be an intern because you didn't have the pressure of someone with seniority who worked there," said Button, who recommends treating internships as a learning experience. "Ignore your job title, have a positive outlook and treat it as an extension of your school."
Button's internship experience has also fuelled her latest project: a guide of internship advice written by former interns for current interns. Below is a sample of some of the advice interns have been sharing with Button through Twitter.
Do you have any wisdom you'd like to share with Canada's growing intern army? Feel free to sound off on the comment section below or share with us on Twitter @HuffPostCaLiv.