International Student Employment Support Program

Applications for the International Student Employment Support Program have closed for the 2024 year.

The Experiential Education Department has partnered with Skills PEI to create the International Student Employment Support Program (ISESP). This program is designed for international undergraduate students who are seeking their first professional Canadian work experience.

This is a competitive program with limited seats; students must apply to be considered and not all students who are eligible will be accepted.

Students in ISESP must be:

  • international undergraduate students, returning to full-time study in Fall
  • seeking their first professional Canadian work experience
  • new to the ISESP program (past participants are ineligible)
  • legally entitled to work in Canada
  • available to complete two days of professional development training on April 6, 2024 and April 27, 2024
  • available to work full-time through the summer (Monday through Friday between 8:00 am and 5:00 pm, June 3 to September 2, 2024)

Screening for this program will happen in two phases this year.

  1. 50 students who meet the criteria will be identified and contacted
  2. Of those 50 students, 30 will be officially accepted

Those who do not get officially accepted will be waitlisted. Waitlisted students will be invited to take part in workshops and other program activities, and waitlisted students who take part in mandatory components may be invited into the program should space become available.

Click here to apply for the International Student Employment Support Program

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there fees for this program?

No, this program is free for participants, with no application fees.

What do you mean by “professional Canadian work experience”?

If you have had work experience that could be seen as an entry point into an industry that connects to your field, it likely counts as professional Canadian work experience, even if it’s a position that isn’t the sort of work you’d like to eventually pursue. The internships created through ISESP are designed to be entry-level roles that can serve as stepping stones along their career path.

Here are a few examples of what would or would not count as professional work experience:

Would be considered

Would not be considered*

Many student positions at UPEI

Food service work

Work within Canadian governments

Retail positions

Research experience


Positions related to your field of study


Co-op work terms

Custodial Services

* Note that some work listed here may be considered relevant depending on students’ majors. For example, some food service work may be professional work experience for Foods and Nutrition students.

What do you mean by “international student”?

For the purposes of this program, we are seeking students who are not Canadian Citizens, permanent residents or protected persons defined by the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. If you are paying international student fees, you are considered an international student. If you are a student who has moved to Canada from another country but you now have permanent residency and are paying domestic student fees, you are not an international student by this program’s definition. We are using this definition to target support to those students who are ineligible for many funding opportunities that exclude international students.

How will transcripts and resumes be evaluated?

We will be looking at resumes and transcripts to assess three things:

  1. What work experience do you have and how well does that align with the program?
  2. Have you completed some studies in your major and maintained academic success?
  3. Are we likely to be able to find suitable employment opportunities for you?


0–3 Points

4–6 Points

7–10 Points

Work Experience

Has previous Canadian work experience somewhat related to their field

Has little/no previous work experience

Has work/volunteer experience outside of Canada and/or not related to their field

Academic Work

Has fewer than 30 semester hours completed or a cumulative GPA below 2.3

Has completed at least 30 semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or higher

Has completed 60+ semester hours with a cumulative GPA of 2.3 or higher and coursework completed in their major beyond first year courses

Labour Market Alignment

There is low probability that the program could provide relevant opportunities to align with stated career goals.

There is some probability that the program could provide relevant opportunities to align with stated career goals.

There is high probability that the program could provide relevant opportunities to align with stated career goals.

Our hope is to identify candidates who would best fit the program, recognizing that we are still likely to have to turn away students who would be good candidates.

Are there other factors considered for who is accepted?

A range of faculties will be selected for the program. There may be caps on seats for any particular major to align with the labour market need section of the rubric above.

We expect more interest for this program than we can accept, and should many acceptable candidates score in the same range, names may be entered into a lottery to determine which students will be offered a seat.

Will all students accepted receive an internship?

At this first round of screening, we will invite 50 students into the program. All 50 students will be invited to participate in programming to support career development, but a second round of screening will identify which students have first access to internships and which will be put on a waitlist. Only 30 subsidized internships will be available through the program. Students who do not complete the required components of the programming will not be eligible to apply for internships. In rare instances, we may not be able to match a student to an appropriate opportunity.

Why are only 30 students accepted into the program?

Employers who take part in ISESP receive wage subsidies to support the creation of positions for students. There is a limited amount of funding available, which means that we can only match 30 students with subsidized internships.

Can Co-op students apply to be part of the ISESP Program? 

No, current and former Co-op students are not eligible for this program. Work term job search support is provided through the Co-op Office.

Can your department help me with my application?

We will be hosting several sessions to support you in applying to ISESP. We will hold an online informational session on January 26th to give an overview of the program and answer any questions, and two drop-in Q&A sessions on February 5th and February 29th to address any questions you may have while submitting your information.

The Experiential Education department does offer support with resume writing. However, for this application process, the emphasis is on providing a thorough and accurate overview of your work experience. So long as your resume is clearly communicating your work and volunteer history, it will not be assessed for formatting or writing. We ask that you do not use our resume support services for this application, as it may overwhelm our department’s ability to provide feedback and will not provide you with a competitive advantage.

If you have general questions about the program, you can direct them to, and a member of our team will get back to you.

If I don't get accepted, can I still get support to find professional Canadian work experience?

Of course! Our department has a range of supports available year-round, including an annual job fair, monthly employer showcases, resume and cover letter feedback, interview preparation support, and an in-house career counsellor. Students who are not accepted into the program this year can reapply in the future (as long as they are still eligible based on other program requirements and program funding continues).

Is your program first-come, first-serve?

No. All applications received before March 1st will be considered equally. However, if you leave your application to the last minute and have questions or need support, we may have limited capacity to help, so do consider applying earlier to ensure that your application is properly submitted before the firm deadline. Late and incomplete applications will not be accepted.

Can I keep my part-time job and take part in this program?

We understand that students in this program may have part-time work that they would like to keep while they complete their internship. Students may keep occasional part-time work during evenings or weekends while they complete their internships, so long as that work does not impact their internship performance. Your internship work hours must always be the priority.

Can I still do an internship if I am taking summer classes or have travel plans?

In terms of summer courses, you’ll want to consider if you can successfully complete coursework while working a full-time internship, both in terms of workload and scheduling. You will need to generally be available during regular business hours. As with any full-time job, you may be able to ask for occasional time off, but you won’t be able to plan your work schedule around your class times.

Similarly, if you need some time off for travel, there may be allowances, but we can’t guarantee that your employer will be able to accommodate your travel plans. If you state that you are available for full-time work in this program, the expectation will be that you will be available to complete 12 weeks of your internship between June 3rd and September 2nd.

Students will be asked to share any summer courses or travel plans during the second round of screening to determine if we will be able to accommodate scheduling requests.

What is the expected workload for this program?

In addition to the two mandatory professional development training days (DATES), you will be asked to:

  • Submit a copy of your study/work permit and SIN with expiry date
  • Participate in a resume review and implement necessary feedback
  • Take part in two volunteer activities (students with volunteer experience may be exempt)
  • Interview for internship opportunities on May 7th and 8th, 2024

Students who are accepted into the program but do not complete all program components will not be able to apply for internship opportunities. We recommend that all waitlisted students complete programming components so that they are ready to apply for internships should space become available.

UPEI international students finding summer employment success

UPEI student Daniela Trinidad Lozano outside Beaconsfield Historic House
UPEI student Joshua Symonette working at a computer
UPEI student Daniela Trinidad Lozano in Beaconsfield Historic House
Success Story
UPEI student Joshua Symonette standing outside

The International Student Employment Support Program (ISESP) offered a group of first and second-year UPEI students the opportunity to gain employability skills through a combination of professional development training and a paid summer internship.


International Student Employment Support Program Enhances Participants’ Skills

photo of male student with caption reading "AMIN ATAHERIAN UPEI Actuarial Science Student"

When Amin Ataherian wanted professional work experience for his first job in Canada, he was happy to learn about UPEI’s International Student Employment Support Program (ISESP). He thought it would be a great way to gain Canadian work experience, especially since the program is tailored specifically to international students. 

After completing the program's professional development workshops and community engagement pieces, Ataherian spent Summer 2021 working for the Provincial Government in the Department of Justice and Public Safety. During this time, he learned some technical skills, including using software related to processing PEI pass applications and documentation and enhanced his communication and networking skills. 

I believe it’s not just technical skills or academic skills that you want to learn, it’s also networking, or getting used to office hours, or dealing with your coworkers… all of this stuff was really helpful for me during the internship,” said Ataherian. 

Ataherian was also thankful for the workshops provided by the university before the internship began. “The workshops… were really helpful. I learned lots of stuff from building a good resume, or having a good interview, and practicing interviews.” He has found that the workshops continued to help even after the internship, helping him secure a Summer position for 2022 as an Accounting Student. “I believe that those interview and resume skills that I gained, and networking, really helped me to find this position for next summer” says Ataherian.

Ataherian says his summer would have looked very different without the ISESP. He found his job search difficult because there are many jobs that international students are not eligible for, or priority is given to Permanent Residents or Canadian Citizens over international students. The program gave him access to a professional opportunity with an employer who was able to hire an international student. Ataherian encourages all eligible international students to apply: “I would definitely recommend this program to international students… All the experience you will gain during the workshops and internships will be helpful for you [in some way].

The second offering of the International Student Employment Support Program will be in Spring 2022. Applications will be open from February 1–21, 2022. 

upei business student yash gupta

Yash Gupta, a first-year international UPEI Business student, did not expect to spend his first summer in Canada working as an Office Accounting Assistant at the Mount Continuing Care Facility. He figured his first job in Canada would probably be unrelated to his studies and would eventually get an accounting-related position. Through UPEI’s International Student Employment Support Program (ISESP), Gupta secured an 11-week paid placement in a role directly related to his academic studies and interests in 2021.

“This program has really helped me to grow as an individual who is willing to learn new things in Canadian workplaces.”

The ISESP is a new program facilitated by the Office of Work Integrated Learning and funded by Skills PEI. Ahead of work placements, program students also participated in a customized five days of professional development designed to prepare the cohort of international students for Canadian workplace settings.

In his role at the Mount, Gupta was initially responsible for day-to-day office tasks such as responding to emails and communicating with residents. “At first, I was given very little authority, but over time I was given more and more responsibility.” Towards the end of his placement, Gupta helped with scheduling and helped cover the manager’s duties while they were on vacation.

“This program has really helped me to grow as an individual who is willing to learn new things in Canadian workplaces,” said Gupta. “It has motivated me to go for more interviews and more jobs, and has surely helped my confidence.” Gupta also built valuable relationships with other program students, coworkers, and supervisors through the program.

“I would definitely recommend this program to other international students… be open-minded and feel free to ask any questions you have,” said Gupta. “If you go through this program, I bet that you will not regret it at all.”