Montreal offers a piece of Europe without leaving North America. Home to the highest number of historic sites in Canada, Montreal’s French architecture and culture make it one of North America’s most unique cities. Montreal is the second largest primarily French-speaking city next to Paris, so it’s an excellent destination to indulge in French culture. It has the second highest economy in Canada and its downtown is an epicenter of technology, finance, and commerce, hence internships in Montreal offer excellent international work experience.
Internships in Montreal
Engineering & Technology. Montreal’s historic French architecture juxtaposed with modern development make it both an aesthetically rich and technologically progressive place. The technological advancements made in Montreal have opened up several opportunities for engineering or technology focused internships, including jobs at software engineering companies like Autodesk. Hydroelectric power jobs with Hydro Quebec have also been on the rise, in addition to video game development, amongst several other industries in Montreal.
Graphic Design & Fashion. Montreal is also home to a prolific and accredited art culture. Recognized as a UNESCO city of design, Montreal offers several opportunities for internships in graphic design and other visual mediums. The city is the headquarters of Alliance Film, along with the National Film Board of Canada, which means film and television internships in Montreal are ideal. Finally, having a strong influence from French culture, Montreal is a hub for fashion and design. With both a Fashion Magazine office and a couple Holt Renfrew locations, Montreal’s fashion industry is not just up to date but thriving.
Duration & Work Schedule. Internships in Montreal can last anywhere from two weeks to six months, but the common duration is around four to six weeks. The workload of an internship in Montreal depends on the specific program, employer, and the intern’s personal preference. Some internship opportunities in Montreal are full-time commitments, consisting of 40 hour work weeks, while other internships are more relaxed and part-time, allowing more time for exploring the city as well as potential career pursuits. Individuals who want to intern in Montreal will not be required to have prior work experience in most cases, but employers will most likely ask that interns be intermediate to advanced speakers in either English or French and be currently pursuing a degree.
Life in Montreal
Montreal has maintained a prominently French feel since its inception, and this French influence is so strong that a majority of Montreal habitants identify themselves as French rather than Canadian. This French identification has led to an ongoing desire for Quebec to secede from Canada. Though this attempt at sovereignty has been impeded by the dependency on the rest of Canada’s natural resources, the desire still persists among many locals, creating a distinct European-esque native culture.
This cultural affiliation is reflected in social interactions, as well as in the city’s business culture. French is the city’s official language, with roughly 57 percent of the population speaking French at home. The city also takes many of its customs from French culture, such as long lunches, a refined wine culture, and adopted French clothing and styles.
Aside from reflections of French art and fashion, Montreal is ruled by an ice hockey crazed culture. Attending a hockey game in Montreal is comparable to a soccer game in Berlin, only shrunken down to the size of an indoor arena. Even if you are unable to catch a game in person, the overall energy and excitement is carried throughout the city, helping many get through their cold winters.
If you don’t find yourself interning in Montreal during the heart of hockey season, there are numerous sites to see and activities to do year-round. Historic “old Montreal” is covered with cobblestone roads and historic architecture, such as the Notre-Dame Basilica. Old Montreal is the perfect area to walk around, soak in the culture, and grab a famous Montreal smoked meat sandwich. Mount Royal, in the heart of the city and the basis of the city’s name, is an excellent place to unwind after a long day at your internship. Designed by the creator of New York’s Central Park, Mount Royal Park provides a nice getaway from the urban bustle.
Salary & Costs
Though internships in Montreal are mostly unpaid, each one provide the necessary experience and networking needed to kick start a career in any given field. Once an internship is completed, it is common to be hired as a full time employee, allowing individuals to earn enough to get by in the city as a full time expat.
However, it is highly recommended that interns arrive in Montreal with substantial financial funding to get them through the duration of their internship. Generally, the cost of everyday items, like food and clothing, are going to cost about the same amount as items in the U.S., but the exchange rate works in the favor of American visitors, making items cost slightly less. The cost of living in Montreal fluctuates based on location and circumstances.
Accommodation & Visas
The most common living arrangements for individuals interning in Montreal are private apartments. It’s also an option to stay with a host family, which may provide daily meals. Most internship programs in Montreal will provide help in finding accommodations, but will not cover the costs associated. A room in a house can cost between 400 and 700 CAD a month, while a downtown one bedroom apartment will range between 600 and 900 CAD.
American students do not need a visa to intern in Montreal for up to six months. If you plan to stay and intern in Canada longer than six months then you must apply for a visa 30 days prior to the expiration of your tourist visit along with a work permit. There is a 100 to 150 CAD application fee, depending on the exchange rate, and applications can be submitted online. Travel insurance is also required for individuals who intern in Montreal, and some programs offer significant deductions through their insurance providers.
Benefits & Challenges
- French Not France. Montreal is a melting pot of cultures, languages, and diversity that will distance you from the rest of North America. Though the prevalent French language and culture may come as a shock, the diversity from around the world balances the culture into a somewhat neutral territory.
- Bilingual City. English speakers will have no difficulty in Montreal. You will not find yourself asking people if they speak English, so it is expected for visitors to just start speaking English to the locals.