by Allan Perkins, 4th year W2017, tsn.ca intern
When to start
Many of you may wonder (and with good reason) ‘When do I start my search?’ It’s certainly a good question to ask, and sometimes it can be vital to the type of placement you end up with. Generally, you have to use common sense. It’s hard to pinpoint an exact time frame because every case is different, but we advise giving yourself at least 10-12 weeks.
For most students, this is enough time explore multiple placement options, do interviews and have some time on the back end just in case. However, this time frame is arbitrary and is by no means the “right way.” There can be advantages and disadvantages in reaching out to employers at any time. In most cases though, 10-12 weeks works. It’s always better to start earlier rather than later. Starting the search early shows employers that you’re interested in their placement, lets you shop around and choose what’s best, gives you time to explore other options if things don’t work out, and finally, lets you relax and not have to scramble.
Remember; being fourth-year university students, it’s your job to take matters into your own hands and read the situation. Listed below are some potential downsides of reaching out too early:
Note: We are NOT saying that if you set up your placement, say, four months in advance that these things will happen. We advise you to set up your placement as early as you want. These are just things to consider.
- Interests or potential career paths change (as they often do);
- An organisation may not know its needs so far in advance and have only vague answers for you about placements;
- Alas, we’re in 2017 and traditional newsrooms are often shrinking, not growing. This is quite uncommon, but it’s possible an organisation’s need for an intern simply evaporates due to downsizing. The longer you wait to set up your placement, the less likely this is to happen (though the odds are long to begin with);
- A number of more attractive placements emerge.
Here are some things to consider if you start your search too late:
- The longer you wait, the more at risk you are of not finding a placement. This is very rare, but don’t let it happen; take charge of the situation!
- Your peers (or students from other programs/schools) beat you to your desired placement;
- You may not have as much time to shop around and consider different placements;
- Employers are put off by your lack of interest in their organisation: it’s not unreasonable to assume someone who reaches out far in advance is more interested than someone who leaves it to the last minute.
Remember: Read the situation, be prepared and leave yourself lots of time. If you do those three things, your odds of running into any of these less-than-ideal scenarios are a lot lower.
Certain placements may require more time
If, for example, you’re interested in a placement at the CBC, the “official” process normally begins four or five months in advance, and requires a few extra steps. So if you’re interested in this type of placement, you need to get a move on! Make sure you have a great-looking CV, and that you can provide links to your best work samples. Ideally, have an up-to-date, attractive, visually-rich website where those branding tools can reside and be viewed by prospective employers now and in the future. Have a generic covering letter ready to go, and be prepared to customise it for each application you make. If you have not been a regular CBC listener or viewer up to this point in your life, then in the months leading up to your fourth year, take in as much CBC programming as you possibly can. That way you’ll have the necessary level of awareness of the CBC and its mandate to be able to handle yourself in an interview. Jagg will be in touch on behalf of the CBC, but preparing yourself for placements at other high-level organisations may require lots of time too.
For placements that involve travel, obviously, this will take more time to set up than most local placements. Travel arrangements, visas and logistics always take a long time to work out. A placement abroad doesn’t materialize in a matter of weeks, but more commonly a matter of months.