labor market | Companies hire interns

To ensure they succeed in hiring valuable professionals, employers are now looking for interns. By giving their loyalty to the company, students from Québec universities can receive scholarships and awards.

Posted at 5:00 am

Isabelle Dube

Isabelle Dube
The press

After his first internship in wood engineering, Jean-Sébastien Lavoie was offered three $1,000 scholarships by his employer for the three stages of study he had left at Laval University. “I had to sign a contract. If I leave three years ago, I’ll have to pay back part of the scholarship,” explains the recent graduate on the phone, who says he really wants to work in this coffin factory.

“Since I didn’t want to work while I was studying, the employer offered me these scholarships to keep me I suppose. »


Brigitte Watier, Head of Vocational Training at ETS

The hunt begins

“We get more internship offers than there are students,” says Brigitte Watier, director of dual studies at the École de technologie supérieure (ETS). The labor shortage that everyone is talking about is reflected at the level of trainees. »

“We are seeing an increase in the offerings at Université de Sherbrooke,” says Alain Tremblay, Head of Internship and Professional Development at Université de Sherbrooke.

At the same time, we received 40% more internship offers than in the previous year. People see it as a gateway to meet the need for labor.

Alain Tremblay, Director of Internships and Professional Development at Université de Sherbrooke

The director explains that he used to help students find internships, but now he has to accompany them in their multiple choices.

“Some students are anxious and we add an extra layer of anxiety to them because they’re overwhelmed, they’re being offered things and we’re putting a little pressure on them to accept them,” says Alain Tremblay.

The most sought-after students are engineering, economics and computer science courses.

“It’s like the permanent employment market,” agrees Marco Beaulieu, Head of Talent Acquisition and Internship Experience at Bombardier. The hunt for interns is as strong as the hunt for talent. »

The Canadian multinational has been employing 1,200 interns annually since 2018. More than half of the students, or 55%, are in engineering and 45% in marketing, human resources, communications and finance.

“There are more requests for interns than available interns,” confirms Marco Beaulieu.

Those who work as an intern in talent recruitment are finding that internships are becoming increasingly popular with employers because internships say more about the quality of an employee than a simple interview.

Interest in internships has also increased with Canadian government grants. The Student Work Placement Program awards $5,000 to $7,000 per intern and can be combined with the provincial tax credit.

“Companies are all chasing after the same candidates, but we’re fortunate to have a good, well-structured program with good projects, and it’s bearing fruit,” says Louise Charest, director of talent acquisition at Desjardins, which has expanded its offering of internships due the growth of the institution.

The conversion rate from trainees to employees has been 73% since 2019, she says.

Advertising, gifts or culture

The head of the University of Sherbrooke Internship Service observed several techniques of seduction employed by employers. Some call students to make sure they give their company a good review, others make “mistakes” by pretending to multiple interns that they really are the “best candidate.” But the students talked to each other, he emphasizes.

Offering scholarships and cash bonuses with a contract that guarantees the graduate’s return as an employee is becoming more common, observes Alain Tremblay of the University of Sherbrooke.

“These are things we advise against,” he says. Our role as advisors is to stimulate the student to think. Yes, it’s fun to get paid for your studies by a company, but are you sure you want to work here when you graduate? Wouldn’t you rather choose? Because in four years there will be just as many jobs. »


Lilian Nguemtchouang decided to do an internship at Bombardier because of the interview and the company culture.

It wasn’t a bonus that made Lilian Nguemtchouang choose Bombardier for her internship, but the recruiter’s way of conducting the interview, which “looked more like a discussion than an interrogation,” says the aspiring Concordia University electrical engineer .

“I really appreciated his warmth and his interest in me. Some of the interviews I had to do focused a lot on the education and technical knowledge and much less on the person himself. In fact, it was the culture of this company that won me over,” she concludes.

Internships follow a hybrid fashion

Like the job market, internships have changed in two years. How are the internships carried out in hybrid mode? Do they have the same value as before? Overview.

After two internships in virtual mode, Jean-François Vo, a third-year software development student at Concordia University, was relieved to complete the internship in hybrid mode this summer.

“Being always online is tiring and demotivating,” he said during a meeting with blunt teams With The press.


Jean-François Vo, intern at Desjardins Digital

When you do virtual internships, it takes a little time to bond with the team and open up.

Jean-François Vo, software engineering student at Concordia University

Jean-François Vo was keen to experience real team collaboration, like the one currently experienced in the Desjardins Digital internship team: 12 students from different universities and programs spent the summer trying to find a real solution to a potential problem in the institution.

“My motivation is higher when we work as a team on site. Communication is easier and at noon we go shopping together for lunch,” says Jean-François Vo, software development intern at Desjardins Digital.

40% Hybrid

According to data from the University of Sherbrooke, as of October 2021, 58% of internships in Canada were in hybrid mode. Currently at the University of Sherbrooke, 40% of students intern in hybrid or full telework mode.

The percentage is higher for internships in communications, computer science and administration, says Alain Tremblay, director of internships and professional development at the University of Sherbrooke.

“If we look at the internship offers for this fall, we see that the trend is continuing. We have 22% of the offers that are hybrid and 33% of the offers that mention the internship will be in-person,” he notes.

benefits and fears

The Director of Internships says some students are positive about telecommuting internships because they don’t have to leave their home in Sherbrooke and can get internships at international companies.

But the university, which has been offering cooperative courses for many years, is facing a new challenge: the supervision of the students.

“We have certain fears and that worries us, says Alain Tremblay. Each of the students is mentored by a professional development consultant from us and we work on and then adapt this support.

“Yes, the internship is an experimental environment for the students, but they study and need support. There are students who are doing very well and others who are having a harder time. We take on the role of mediator. »

Mentoring: more important than ever

The Université de Sherbrooke team systematically visits all new companies offering internships. She has also developed a guide that requires the student to create a progress report and answer specific questions: Is it going well? ; Did you meet your manager? ; Are the tasks clear? ; Do you have all the tools to be successful in your work?

“To our great surprise, things are going very well,” says Marco Beaulieu, Talent Acquisition and Internship Experience Manager at Bombardier. Among the 1,200 interns there are some who have probably been forgotten, but this has not come up in our surveys that we regularly conduct to find out how the internship is going (first week, mid-term evaluation sessions, etc.). »

The interns don’t seem disappointed with their internship. I had no fluctuations in intern and supervisor satisfaction rates for 2020 and 2021.

Marco Beaulieu, Head of Talent Acquisition and Internship Experience at Bombardier

At Bombardier, great importance is attached to the welcome and close supervision by the supervisor throughout the internship on the first few days.

“There is a so-called point of contact that is established with the team members to know their stress level, to know if they need help when there are emergencies. There are also one-on-one interviews with the manager. »

For the 2022 summer internship, interns and supervisors will return to the office one or two days a week and are happy to be able to make contacts in this way, says Marco Beaulieu.

Having a mentor is even more important than before, says Louise Charest, director of talent acquisition at Desjardins. You have to stay in close contact with the trainee and have regular contact, she says. “Caring for others is very important for good integration. »


Jérémy Lauzon-Grenier, IT Director at Desjardins Digital (left) and interns

In training as in the reality of 2022

The aim of an internship is to integrate students into the job market as it is and will be for them, says Brigitte Watier, director of cooperative education at the École de technologie supérieure (ETS), which arranges internships 3500 students per year in over from 2000 companies.

“So if the job market is such that there are a lot of jobs being done remotely or in hybrid mode, then we need to train students to work in the current market. »

Learn more

  • 3500
    Number of ETS students who intern in more than 2,000 companies each year


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