Tips for Students

Tips on Finding and Securing Your Own Placement

This document is intended to assist UTM Undergraduate Students in the planning and preparation for finding and securing their own placement as part of an academic course.

Download the PDF: UTM Undergraduate Students: Tips on Finding & Securing Your Own Placement

How to Approach and Speak to Professors

Getting to know your professors may sound like an intimidating task and something that you may put off, especially if you are in need of something, or searching for information i.e. participating in a Research Opportunity Program project, seeking acceptance into an Academic Internship course, general assistance, reference letter, etc. But it doesn’t need to be this way.  Professors are people just like everyone else, and they are happy to help their students. 

There are a few things you need to keep in mind with approaching or speaking with your professors, in particular if you are asking them for information or a favour.  Download this PDF for Tips On How to Approach a Professor.

Tips on Reflection

Reflective writing and thinking is an important part of your university life, personal life, and working life. The ability to reflect on experiences and knowledge and using this to make improvements is a key to encouraging thoughtful and balanced university-level thinking and work. Download the PDF on Reflective Writing and Thinking.

When contemplating and responding to reflection questions it is important that you use terminology that can be easily understood and speaks to the experience. Download the PDF on Reflection Vocabulary.

Tips on How To Be a Successful Intern

DISCLAIMER: As a UTM Intern, you are expected to research the organization you are interviewing with in advance of the interview to better inform yourself of who they are and what they do. 

Download the PDF on How to Succeed as an Intern in the Workplace

Preparation of Your Cover Letter and Resume/CV

  • Always use your utoronto.mail email address for professional correspondence with employers
  • Your resume is your first impression. Make sure it stands out and paints you in a positive light.
  • Visit the Career Centre, where their staff can assist in mock interviews as well as résumé and cover letter writing workshops

Outgoing and Incoming Phone Messages

  • Be sure to leave a professional outgoing message on your phone
  • When speaking on the phone with an employer make sure that you:
    • Find a quiet space
    • Remind the person that you are listening with simple interjections (i.e. yes, exactly, etc.)
    • Speak clearly and concisely
  • Be sure to turn your cell phone off during the workday so as to avoid unnecessary interruptions while at work.

How to Dress for an Interview

  • Dress professionally
    • You don’t necessarily need to purchase/wear a business suit
  • Make sure that you are in clean, pressed clothing
  • Being well groomed and mindful of the little things such as chipped nail polish or covering any visible tattoos (where possible) is equally important
  • Dressing professionally is important and if unsure, it’s better to dress it up!
  • Check out the Career Centre’s webpage on how to dress the part 

Use of Body Language During an Interview

  • The majority of how a message is conveyed is through the use of body language
  • Give a firm handshake before and after the interview
    • If not accustomed, let them know politely ahead of time
  • Keep eye contact and nod, avoid staring
  • Keep good posture and don’t fidget
  • If the interview is with more than one person, ensure you address the entire room
  • If through Skype
    • Be mindful of surroundings and find a quiet place
    • Close and mute all distractions and notifications
  • If via phone:
    • Find a quiet space
    • Remind the person that you are listening with simple interjections (i.e. yes, exactly, etc.)
    • Speak clearly and concisely

Use of Company Equipment

  • Abide by the office rules i.e. do not check social medial accounts on company time or with company equipment
    • Company equipment is not meant for personal use, restrict this to your personal computer/phone and only during breaks  and not on company time

Professional Behaviour in the Workplace

  • Arrive to work on time and leave when your shift is over
  • Avoid last minute schedule changes and notify supervisor if these cannot be avoided
  • Confirm instructions and ask questions
  • Check email and phone messages TWICE a day minimum
  • Be friendly and stay positive!

Requesting a Letter of Reference from a Professor

When looking to approach a faculty member to request a Letter of Reference there are a few things you will need to prepare and keep in mind:


Provide details about where you are applying and why.  Include a statement of intent or the job description and cover letter that reveal what you are applying to.


Provide a copy of your transcript that shows your courses and grades, it is not necessary to provide an official transcript for this purpose unless requested.  It helps if you provide a separate note with the name of the course(s) you took with the professor, including the titles of essays you may have written in the course(s) and the grades earned for individual assignments.


Your current or former professor will not know everything you do, and may not remember you well. S/He may not have any knowledge of your activities after the completion of the course s/he taught. A resume will help them to place your academic performance in context.

You should also include separate information that highlights your qualifications, relevant experience such as extra-curricular activities (CCR), experiential learning opportunities, undergraduate research courses, and any obstacles that you had to overcome in school or work and how you overcame those.


You want your professor to write a letter about how mature, organized, and professional you are. Submit your request for letters of recommendation a minimum of month in advance of the due date, and then follow up with a reminder a week before the due date if you haven’t heard back.


Asking for a letter of recommendation over email is fine, but also offer to meet face-to-face.

The key to a good reference letter is that it must go beyond what your future employers or academic selection committee will discover when they read your CV and cover letter. Naturally, standing out in class and demonstrating that you are hardworking and responsible will go a long way but the nature of a letter of reference is to also describe levels of intelligence, reliability, creativeness and other attributes that will assist in your goal.

For additional information and tips see How to ask for a reference letter.