Letters from the dorm: summer holiday? Nope. Time for an internship

By Tacye Hong, University of Toronto
By Tacye Hong, University of Toronto |

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I strongly believe that university students should do something different every summer. Not only can it broaden your horizons, it also helps build up your CV, showing future employers that you have different skill sets.

Last year I was a mentor for a programme for those aged 12–17, but this year I wanted to do an internship. It was easier said than done.

Whenever my friends in Hong Kong complain about how hard it is to get a summer internship, I think that they have it so easy over there. Hong Kong universities generally have a list of internship opportunities and work-study jobs for their students. The University of Toronto also has something called a Career Learning Network, but it only lists a few job openings – all in Canada.

That would be OK, but I had already planned to return to Hong Kong for the summer holiday, so I had to search for internship programmes myself. The whole process was super-challenging, because a lot of internship programmes were meant for those who were studying in Hong Kong.

As I am studying financial economics and actuarial science, I was hoping to find an internship related to my field. I started targeting all the financial institutions that I could think of, and googled “summer intern” to dig up as many jobs as possible.

Tacye Hong (left) with fellow intern Jacquelyn during a break from work.
Photo: Tacye Hong

I applied to a number of companies, and after taking several online tests and doing a few phone interviews, I finally landed a position at one of the largest banks in Hong Kong. And after three long months, my internship finally came to an end last month.

Throughout the summer, I worked alongside other interns from Hong Kong, Canada, and Britain. The actual work I had to do was not related to my field at all; it was customer service stuff, which was a bummer. However, I was still immensely grateful for the valuable experience I gained from the placement. I am very happy that I got the chance to have a taste of the real world at my age.

With a mentorship and an internship both completed, I am hoping that I can devote next summer to doing some research. I am sure that it is going to take an even greater effort to find the right opportunity, but, hey, let’s dream big!