Internship Competencies

Welcome to the final workshop of your experiential learning program! We hope your start-up placements this year were enjoyable and allowed you to improve on your competencies. Today we will be taking time to reflect on your experiences, as well as how you can use these experiences to further enhance your marketability to future employers.

Please ensure all prior material has been completed before continuing. This includes: Student Guide, Placement Agreement Form, Formal Agreement/Contract, and Personal Learning Plan (Part A).

During your placement, you have had lots of opportunities to work on different tasks and gain valuable work experience. However, simply having experience is not enough. It’s important that you understand the competencies that you were able to develop, as you need to be able to articulate them to your employers clearly. Managers of your future jobs will assess these through resumes, tests, interviews and while you’re on the job. So, it is important to know your strengths and what you need to work on, as it can directly impact your chances of getting a job or promotion.

Let’s review competencies! They are a collection of related abilities, knowledge and skills that enable a person to act effectively on a job. The core competencies form the foundation for successful performance for all jobs in the organization, often linked to the values and plans. Competency sets translate the core competencies to action. For example, a core competency of “business strategizing,” can include project management and communication.

Now that you have established how you demonstrated these competencies, think about how they are related to your field of study. Your placement may not have fit directly with your field of study; however, the competencies you developed should be applicable to other types of work. Unlike specific skills such as cold calling, for example, the competencies related to doing that task effectively such as communication and records management can be transferred to other types of work.

For your placement we wanted to ensure a learning experience that consisted of meaningful work to which you would have had opportunities to contribute to. We hope the assigned projects allowed you to develop your skills and competencies, while helping your assigned start-up company. Take some time to review the work you did, and your accomplishments. This can include your personal achievements while working on the projects, or overall benefits that you have contributed to the start-up.

We will now work on combining your experiences and competencies and translating them into your resumes. Resumes are important screening tools and often lead to the first impressions and inferences about personality, as they evaluate your experiences. You should figure out what the employer is looking for in their ideal candidate and see how you fit in that role. The most important info will come from the job description, make sure to always read and evaluate how you fit that role. You should be able to understand the knowledge, skills, abilities and other characteristics (KSAO’s), along with competencies that are sought for that position.

When describing the experience on your resume, it is important that you use action verbs to describe what you did and the result and impact of that experience. The result/impact of your work can be qualitative or quantitative. Also, make sure your KSAO’s and competencies on your resume are targeted toward the job description is because of the growth in E-recruiting. As companies are flooded with thousands of resumes that get stored in data banks, searching for keywords that match what the job is looking for is a way companies can filter through the resumes.

When it comes to interviews, you will once again have to demonstrate the competencies that interviewers are concerned with. It is very unlikely that they will make you do the actual job to demonstrate your proficiency as it is time consuming, and in some cases dangerous. However, they may take a major task from the job and conduct a situational simulation that aims to duplicate features of the job. These can be done through situational exercises and situational judgment tasks.

Situational exercises are conducted in order to asses your aptitude or proficiency in performing important tasks. You will often have to complete less realistic tasks than those performed on the actual job. Along with assessing your proficiency they will also asses your problem-solving ability, communication skills and other competencies. Situational judgment tests are designed to measure the applicant’s judgment in the workplace. These tests include paper and pencil questions that are focused on understanding how you would respond in different situations at work.

Though we can’t directly help with situational exercises, since they require a physical setting and equipment, we can still help you understand how to go about answering situational judgment test type questions, along with other types of interview questions.

When it comes to your preliminary interview the focus of the interviewer is to fill the gaps on your application and inquire more about what you displayed on your resume. This can be done over the phone or online. The goal is to understand your motivation, attitude towards work and potential job and organizational fit. If they find you a viable candidate, you will be called in for a more traditional, in-person interview. There may be even a third stage for additional testing for your proficiency on certain tasks depending on the job you have applied for. At all stages, you may be asked situational or behavioural questions. While situational questions will look at important situations employees are likely to encounter on the job, behavioural questions will look at what applicants did during their previous experiences.

With situational and behavioural questions, the interviewer is giving you an opportunity to demonstrate a particular competency. One of the best ways you can go about answering these questions is called the STAR method. The STAR method is a great way to ensure you include all relevant details in your answer.

Let’s now use the STAR method to respond to a situation your interviewer may ask about.

Question: Tell me about a time you were working on a team and encountered a challenge.

S- SITUATION: Here you want to describe the context of the situation you were in when you performed a job or faced a challenge. Do not generalize, describe a specific event as it will make your answer more credible, and will set the scene for the rest of the answer, making it easier for the interviewer to follow.

Situation Example: I was working as a research assistant at the Political Science Department at the University of Toronto as part of the three-person team.

Question: Tell me about a time you were working on a team and encountered a challenge.

T- TASK: Talk about what you were working on and your responsibility in that situation, along with the issue that arose when trying to complete the task. Task Example: We were analyzing election results in electoral districts of Canada deriving from demographic variants and other contemporary political topics. We were having difficulty coming to a consensus as to how to analyze the data.

Question: Tell me about a time you were working on a team and encountered a challenge.

A-Action: This is where you describe the steps you took to complete the task or solve an issue. When explaining this, focus on what you were able to do contribute to the task, instead of what your team did. Use the word “I” instead of “we” when describing the actions.

Action Example: I recommended that we meet to present our ideas and reasoning behind it. 2- I suggested that we should individually consider the various methods and to meet in a few days. 3- We met again and discussed openly and respectfully the various methods, highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of each. 4- Over two meetings, we brainstormed how to blend the valuable parts of each method and negotiated a new analysis strategy which was an amalgamation of the methods proposed.

Question: Tell me about a time you were working on a team and encountered a challenge.

R-Results: This is what job applicants tend to forget the most. What was the outcome of the actions you took? Talk about what was accomplished and the experience you gained. Make sure you have multiple positive results, this can include how your relationships were affected within your team, with your manager, or client, or even how it allowed for other opportunities to arise.

Results Example: 1- Prevented delays in the project’s completion. 2- Maintained a collegial working relationship with team members. 3- Arrived at a method of analysis that was superior to the ones proposed.


Start-Up Experience League – Tying Experiential Learning with Entrepreneurial Activities on Campus

Investigator This study will be conducted by Dr. Nicola Lacetera, Associate Professor at the Department of Management – University of Toronto Mississauga; Donna Heslin, Director of ICUBE; and Ignacio Mongrell, Strategic Relations & Innovation Manager at ICUBE, University of Toronto Mississauga.

Invitation to Participate Thank you for volunteering to participate in our self-assessment and survey study for the Start-up Experience League. This self-assessment and survey is part of a larger project, which is described below. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Ignacio Mongrell by email at, OR contact the Office of Research Ethics (for questions regarding participant rights) at 416–‐964–‐3273 or by email at

Description of the Project Work-integrated learning is understood to be the pedagogical practice whereby students come to learn from the integration of experiences in education and workplace settings (Billett, 2009). While there are several working definitions of WIL (BHER, 2016; Billett, 2009; Patrick, Peach & Pocknee, 2009; Academica Group Inc., 2011), the main definitional criteria include the following:

1. Participation in workplace activities  2. Connection with academic curriculum  3. Integrated learning

The Start-up Experience League is a new work -integrated learning program that is being run by ICUBE UTM and it’s designed to support two key groups: a diverse range of undergraduate students, and seed and early-stage start-up companies supported by ICUBE UTM or it’s partners.

This project intends to assess the impact this work-integrated learning program has on the start-ups and participating students such as start-up survival rates, student competency development and general interest in entrepreneurship after being exposed to a start-up. Our intent is to publish the aggregated results of this study in a peer-reviewed academic journal.

Participation Your participation in assessing the impact of this project is voluntary. This means that you can choose to not have your data included in the analysis of the project. Once withdrawn from the study, you may request that all of your data be deleted.

Methods/Procedures The study consists of multiple work-placement assignments throughout the term, a survey and self evaluation piece. Any student data associated with these assignments will be anonymized prior to results analysis. Please see the section below.

Access to Information, Confidentiality and Publication of Results The information obtained from you will be available only to research personnel who are involved in this project. Your name will not appear on the assessment results and your data will be identified with a code number (not your student number). The key connecting your name with this number will be kept in a password‐protected computer file by Ignacio Mongrell, making the analyzed data anonymous.

This consent form, containing your name, will be stored separately from the data in a locked drawer. When the results of the study are presented and/or published, only grouped data will be provided; no individual participant will be identifiable.

If you are interested in obtaining a copy of the research results at the conclusion of the study, contact Ignacio Mongrell at

Risks/Benefits There are no foreseeable risks, harms or inconveniences associated with this project. It is the opinion of the collaborators that this research is pedagogically beneficial to start-up companies and students from different disciplines, as it will assist them in building up skills that are core to their studies.

Consent Statement By signing this document you consent to participate in the project:

This statement certifies the following:

• You are 18 years of age or older
• You have read the consent and all your questions have been answered
• You understand that you may withdraw from the study at any time and that you will not lose any of the benefits that you would otherwise receive by withdrawing early
• You give the researchers permission to use your assessment answers for research and teaching purposes.
• You have the right to see the results prior to their being published