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Learning the benefits of internships

Queen’s Women in Science and Engineering hosts networking event to help STEM students understand the value of internships.

Queen’s Women in Science and Engineering (QWiSE) hosted Spill the Tea: Internship Edition, an event to help promote how completing an internship can benefit students studying science or engineering. (Supplied Photo)

Internships provide students with opportunities to build their skills and make connections in career fields they are interested in pursuing. But not all students are aware of the benefits of internships or how to find them. A student-run club has been working to help women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) learn about the value of internships and the opportunities that are open to them as Queen’s students.

Queen’s Women in Science and Engineering (QWiSE), which has chapters across Canada, aims to support and empower women in STEM to help them achieve their full potential as future engineers, entrepreneurs, scientists, and leaders. From networking and outreach events to mentorship programs, this group provides opportunities to foster enthusiasm for science, while supporting women and girls in seeking equity in the STEM sector.

Their latest initiative, Spill the Tea: Internship Edition, promoted in collaboration with Queen’s Career Services, looked to increase awareness of how completing an internship can benefit students studying science or engineering. Queen’s students have access to many internship opportunities through the Queen’s Undergraduate Internship Program (QUIP), a degree enrichment opportunity through which students participate in 12- to 16-month paid, professionally supervised, career-related work experiences.

“This event was a great opportunity to use the QWiSE mentorship platform to share what we’ve learned,” says Ashlyn Secord, Co-Director of Mentorship with QWiSE. “By participating in the internship program, I gained so many soft skills I wouldn’t have gained in my academic career. There are so many internship opportunities that students in science don’t know about, whether it’s from a lack of understanding or lack of awareness.”

In an effort to share their knowledge and experiences, QWiSE decided to organize a drop-in networking event to connect former QUIP interns with students on campus, who may have questions about how an internship can fit into their degree plan. In collaboration with QUIP, QWiSE hosted dozens of students who have returned from internships for tea, snacks, and enlightening conversations about how to test-drive their career with an internship.

Members of QWiSE and QUIP would like to see Spill the Tea: Internship Edition become an annual networking event for students who are interested in internships. Both groups felt that Spill the Tea “was very much a success,” Secord says. “For events with a focus on career development, partnering with Career Services and QUIP is important and beneficial.”

Students who are interested in registering for the QUIP program for positions starting in May or September 2020 can attend an information session this January to find out more. 

For more information about QUIP, and how to hire an intern for a role on campus, visit the Career Services website.