Internship opportunity brings York U grad full circle

Not only did Denise Bang’s undergraduate internship opportunity in human resources lead to her first professional career position; it regularly brings her back to York University to recruit other interns and potential future employees.

Denise Bang

“It was a great learning experience,” said Bang, now a campus ambassador for CGI, the information technology consulting firm where she undertook a human resources internship. “I found out what it was like on the other side.”

As a student in the Human Resources Management Honours program, Bang pursued her internship through the YU Experience Hub. The hub is home to the Internship and Co-op programs for students from the Faculties of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and Science. Students in these specific undergraduate fields may secure valuable positions that offer valuable experiential education.

Staff at the YU Experience Hub perform outreach to corporations, encouraging them to recruit students from the programs for paid full-time internships. Once students apply and enter the program, staff assist with their job search, resume critiques and interview skills. After students secure a work term, an on-the-job success workshop is provided.  Approximately 200 students are monitored annually while on the job and support is provided as they achieve their specific learning objectives.

“We don’t place students,” Kristen Papadakos, internship coordinator in the YU Experience Hub said. “The internship program mimics real life recruitment practices. The employer decides who to hire after students submit resumes and are interviewed. They have to be polished professionals to best display their skills.

“Internships are an excellent opportunity for students to test drive their careers and determine if their majors are realistic in the current job landscape,” said Papadakos. “The experience that students gain while on internships also helps students beef up their resumes so they have concrete experience when they graduate.”

“We don’t place students. The internship program mimics real life recruitment practices. The employer decides who to hire after students submit resumes and are interviewed. They have to be polished professionals to best display their skills.” – Kristen Papadakos, internship coordinator in the YU Experience Hub

Bang was very grateful for the assistance the YU Experience Hub provided.

“The workshops helped with resume writing and the mock interviews were great,” Bang said. “Once I landed an internship, I was able to experience the human resources field to see if I liked it and determine whether what I learned in class applied to the field.”

Bang’s first job tasks centred on prospecting and pre-screening potential candidates to fill open positions at CGI. Eventually, she also took on reporting and analytical tasks related to the success of the ongoing recruiting efforts.

“My internship employer gave me real work,” she said. “It was a huge learning curve, but it was great.”

As her internship progressed, Bang’s supervisor told her that she was eligible to apply for a full-time position with the company. She successfully applied for a campus recruitment position and arranged her remaining coursework to fit her new work schedule. Today, she recruits university students to fill internship positions with CGI, a job that regularly brings her back to her alma mater.

“If it weren’t for the internship program, I would never have had this opportunity to apply for junior roles at CGI,” Bang said. “The internship experience gave me the chance to interview the employer too, and it is a great fit.”

By Elaine Smith, special contributing writer to Innovatus

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