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RBC looks to kick-start careers for fresh grads training

Now in its second year, the RBC Career Launch program targets the gap between post-secondary graduation and the first steps on a career path
Evan Young with co-workers Matthew Bosch (centre), client adviser, and Ashley Bernardo, client and business service adviser | Photo: Chung Chow

For most university graduates, the prospect of landing a yearlong paid internship that might lead to full-time paid work in your field seems like an impossible dream. Not so for 100 young grads across the country, thanks to a special yearlong program established by RBC to help post-secondary graduates take their first steps on their career path.

The RBC Career Launch program is now entering its second year and has more than 5,000 prospective applicants vying for the 100 spots across Canada. Due to the overwhelming demand, RBC had to resort to a lottery system to reduce the list of candidates to a manageable size.

According to Statistics Canada’s latest labour force information, youth unemployment in Canada has hovered around 13% over the last year and shows little sign of improvement. According to a Canadian Labour Congress news release, almost 90% of all new jobs created in Canada in 2015’s first quarter have been part-time.

“It speaks volumes to how useful that experience is and how many people want that,” said Evan Young, a University of British Columbia graduate who completed the program in January. “It’s a good way to fill the void of having no experience and gets you a foot in the door.”

The program is spread over three “rotations,” the first of which takes place at an RBC branch where the participants spend six months working as client advisers, handling everyday banking transactions for customers, gaining service experience and first-hand knowledge of how the bank operates.

The interns are then sent out to local community organizations, depending on their backgrounds and interests, as ambassadors of the bank. Young, being from Surrey, decided to spend his three-month tenure at the city’s School District 36 helping write grant proposals for after-school programs that helped children from low-income households.

In the final rotation, the participants get a chance to experience a deeper, more functional role at RBC. Because he’s interested in pursuing a career in strategy and planning, Young was assigned to the B.C. regional office to work on corporate strategy for the region.

The most valuable part of the program, according to Young, is the network he developed with his colleagues and the program’s advisers. Now working at RBC as a banking adviser, Young said the experience left such an impression on him that he immediately applied for a position at the bank.

“I was determined to find a way to stay,” Young said. “Many of my friends in the program are still working at RBC.”