Comprising almost two thirds of the population in the Canadian province of Manitoba, Winnipeg is an urban oasis in a sea of rural farmland and sparsely inhabited wilderness. While its metro population only totals 730,000 people, its status as the only major city for many hundreds of kilometers/miles means that it has a higher concentration of shops and services than other cities its size elsewhere in North America.
As a result, living here is far more interesting than one might suspect, a perception that is further strengthened by its prior importance as an inland port. This led to a building boom that ended in the 1930's, giving the Exchange District in the midst of downtown a heavy concentration of Art Deco structures that will please architecture enthusiasts.
While this city has treaded water over much of the remainder of the 20th century, Winnipeg has seen increased growth as it has entered the 21st century. As Canada's job seekers have moved west to chase employment opportunities in the booming industries out there, a portion of the spoils from Alberta and Saskatchewan have washed over to Manitoba, boosting many of the sectors of the Winnipeg economy.
Here's what to expect if you are considering a move to the Gateway to the West...
What’s Winnipeg like?
Being situated well within the Canadian Prairies, much of the terrain in the city is as flat as a pancake, making it an ideal place for those that enjoy cycling in their free time. For those that crave nature, this city is ideally located within an hour's drive of the Canadian Shield, where many lakes surrounded by spectacular exposed granite bedrock await the boating and fishing enthusiast.
Those looking to relax on a hot summer day need only turn their car north for an hour, and they'll end up at Grand Beach on the southern shore of Lake Winnipeg, which has been repeatedly voted as one of Canada's best beaches over the years.
You'll want to make the most out of those long sultry days, because the winters in Winnipeg rank among the coldest in the developed world. Those coming here will likely need to shop for some warm winter clothes upon arrival, as this city has twelve days on average per winter where the daily high is -30 degrees Celsius or lower (in the winter of 2013-2014, the worst in over 100 years, there was 30 days at or below -30).
Winnipeg is a diverse city, as it contains the highest percentage of First Nations people (12%) in its population in the country, as well as the highest percentage of Filipinos (9%) in the nation. Along with a sizable student population, this has created an urban environment that is very conducive to the thriving arts and culture scene that exists here.
As for the economy of Winnipeg, few cities enjoy the level of diversification that this center does. The biggest employers are governmental institutions (City of Winnipeg and the Government of Manitoba), but Great West Life Assurance and Boeing Aerospace also have significant footprints here, along with a widespread collection of similar white and blue collar employers.
With KPMG ranking Winnipeg as the cheapest place to do business in Western Canada in 2012, there is no doubt that its cost advantages are starting to pay dividends for the people of this prairie city.
What kinds of internships are available in Winnipeg?
With government dominating a large portion of the employment picture in Winnipeg, getting an internship with the public service here is a logical place to begin your search for an internship. If you seek to begin a career in drafting public policy, administration, or finance within the context of working as a civil servant, this the perfect place to look for a position to fill that need.
Those with a background in industrial engineering will want to submit one of their applications with Boeing, as this established giant in the aerospace industry puts interns into situations where they will learn much about their craft in a hands on manner.
Got a business degree and have an interest in sales? Then go after a position mentoring at Great West Life, an insurance company that was founded in this very city in 1891. People will always need insurance coverage no matter where they are in life, and sales is a highly transferable skill, so getting an apprenticeship here will be very beneficial to the growth of your nascent career.
How to find internships in Winnipeg
Finding internships used to be quite a difficult task in Winnipeg for many years due to a prolonged period of economic stagnation in the 20th century, but with an oil boom in Alberta and Saskatchewan drawing away competition, and the residual wealth effect lifting up the economy in Winnipeg shortly afterward, there has never been a better time to find an internship in Winnipeg.
Those interested in working with the government of Manitoba can apply through one of two routes: either via the Management Internship Program (MIP) or the Manitoba Diversity Internship Program (MDIP).
The latter program works to redress employment imbalances with regards to those who are part of a minority ethnic group, so if you are a member of one of these groups and are seeking a career in the civil service, this is an excellent option for you.
Those seeking employment with Boeing, Great West Life or other private sector employers need to show these respective companies how they would add value to their organizations from the get-go. For example, sharing your perspective on the new 787 with a hiring manager for Boeing Winnipeg would be a good icebreaker that may help you get noticed further on in the process.
In the same way, swallowing your fears and making a cold call to a recruiter at Great West to explain how you would convince the current generation (the most informed and skeptical in history) that life insurance isn't just a good idea but a must-have will put you miles ahead of those that are simply mass submitting resumes and praying.