Montreal is the second-largest city in Canada, after Toronto. Located in the province of Quebec, near the border with Vermont, the city embodies a diverse heritage. A true cultural capital, Montreal is home to the largest number of National Historical Sites in Canada. The Parc Mont-Royal, the largest greenspace in the city, was plotted by Central Park designer, Frederick Law Olmsted. The city center, a train hub as well as an international meeting place, juxtaposes the modern economic center with the historic architectural monuments of Old Montreal.
- Main Industries: Aerospace, Electronics, Pharmaceuticals, Software Engineering, Telecommunications, Textiles, Petrochemicals, Transportation, and Service
- Popular Destinations: Old Montreal, Parc du Mont-Royal, Montreal Biosphere, Planetarium
- Cost of Living: About $1500/month, Canadian ($1200/month, US)
- Visa: Interns to Canada generally require a work permit visa, though sometimes this is not necessary, in which case a tourist visa for an American passport holder is good for up to 180 days
- Fun Fact: In Canada, milk usually comes in a plastic bag, rather than a carton. To drink the milk, a hole is cut in the corner of the bag, and the bag is placed into a jug or pitcher for pouring.
Montreal's professional scene has a distinct international feel to it, so internships in fields such as international relations, or with businesses that have international components are common. Internships, or co-ops, are an integral part of the Canadian education system. Therefore, the city is not only welcoming to interns, but also offers internships through the municipal government.
- Film/Media: Montreal, along with Vancouver, is a hub of film and Television production in Canada. The Canadian film scene is known for producing gripping and award-winning documentaries. Alliance Films has its headquarters in Montreal, and the National Film Board of Canada has five studios in the city. The head offices of Telefilm Canada and Television de Radio-Canada are located in Montreal as well. A film internship in Montreal offers a window into a well-respected filmmaking community. For those who prefer video games to movies and television, Ubisoft Montreal, EA, Eidos Interactive, and THQ are just some of the video game companies that have a strong presence in Montreal.
- Engineering: Montreal is the 4th largest center for aerospace jobs in North America and is located near the Canadian Space Agency in Longueuil. Moreover, as a technological, financial, and cultural center, the city is a draw for engineers of all specialties, from software to civil. A software internship in Montreal presents the opportunity to develop your skills through hands-on experience while working in an internationally recognized technological hub.
- Cultural Development: Montreal's rich cultural life provides plenty of opportunities to intern in athletics, art, and history, among other fields. As the home of International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO, a United Nations body); the World Anti-Doping Agency; the Airports Council International; and the International Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce (IGLCC), Montreal is the perfect place to get valuable experience working for local and international organizations. This kind of internship can give you a unique insight into the culture of Montreal as you work to maintain and improve the sports, museums, and general quality of life in Montreal.
A town hall in Montreal
When and Where to Look for an Internship:
Internships are available year-round in Montreal. One excellent place to look for internships is through The City of Montreal itself, which has listings for internships in a vast variety of fields, including: Library Science, Communications, Engineering, Urban Planning, Recreation Science, Computer Science, Transportation, Biology, Finance, and Social Work.
Cost of Living in Montreal
Montreal is relatively affordable compared to other major cities. Rent outside the city center is not too expensive. Shampoo and milk are surprisingly expensive. Here are some expenses to give an idea of the cost of living in Montreal
- Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre: $855.43 US ($900 CAD)
- Monthly Pass (Regular Price): $71.76 US ($75.50 CAD)
- Milk (regular), 1 liter: $1.76 US ($1.85 CAD)
Work Culture in Montreal:
- Etiquette: Canadians have a reputation for being polite to the point that it has become a stereotype. Nevertheless, it's a good idea to err on the side of politeness in conversation, though still laid-back and casual. Handshakes are the most common greeting, particularly in a professional environment. Canadians often maintain a separation between their work and personal lives.
- Language: Although Canada is officially French-English bilingual, the provence of Quebec, in which Montreal lies, recognizes only French as its official language. Since it lies close to the border with the United States, English is spoken more frequently in Montreal than in other parts of Quebec. About 55% of people in Montreal speak English; however, many quebecois(e) expect to go about their daily lives speaking only French. In addition to being the majority and official language, Quebec's Charter of the French Language outlines specific language rights for francophones, including the right of workers to carry on activities in French and the right of consumers to be informed and served in French. A recent amendment to this charter has revived many of the tensions surrounding language in Quebec. Therefore, it may be best to consider your internship in Montreal as a great opportunity to work on your French. In fact, the provincial government provides free French lessons and resources for those who are planning to enter the country but do not speak French. There are also internships available that are for those who are learning or do not know French. It is likely that your internship will clarify their specific language expectations.
- Networking: Montreal is an excellent city for networking; in 2009 the city was named North America's top host city for international events by the International Congress and Convention Association. As such, many trade shows, conventions, and conferences are held in Montreal throughout the year. Canada's second-largest city, Montreal is also home to many networking groups in a vast variety of fields. Furthermore, the city's internationally-recognized universities, such as McGill, draw cutting edge academics to present their research in Montreal.
Work and Labor Laws in Montreal
There is no written legislation defining internships in Canada. Student internships in Canada are called "Co-ops" (Cooperative education). These placements can be competitive for Canadians, let alone foreign nationals, particularly at the university level. While there are some unpaid internships in Canada, particularly in Media and Communications fields, many paid internships also exist.
Interns in Canada must require a visa in order to enter the country. The US State Department and Canadian Immigration have more information on visas.
A map of Montreal in 1907
Why Intern in Montreal?
Montreal is a vibrant city that provides work opportunities in a variety of fields, and promises plenty of entertainment in off-work hours. Internships in Montreal offer a unique chance to improve in the French language, as well as other professional skills, in a bilingual environment. Living in Canada also presents the unique chance to get coffee and donuts from Tim Hortons every day, develop an appreciation for curling and hockey, and make life-long connections at internationally recognized organizations.
Photo Credit: Montreal Skyline, Montreal Town Hall, 1907 Map