Need a job? Start walking, stop surfing

LEAH HANSEN
The Eyeopener (Ryerson University)

Summer jobs are tough to find for students at this time of year.

Summer jobs are tough to find for students at this time of year.

TORONTO (CUP) — When Parth Patel was in his first few years of the engineering program at the University of Ryerson, he found getting a summer job to be quite challenging.

“I applied to more than 60 or 70 jobs,” Patel said. “I was trying to find work [in engineering], but I wasn’t able to.”

The frustration of finding a summer job is something many students have experienced, especially since the 2008 economic crisis sent markets around the world crashing. Searching through thousands of job listings online, perfecting a resumé and sending it out can take hours.

Going back to the basics is the best way to score that ideal job, said Daniel Kennedy, a career consultant at Ryerson University’s Ted Rogers School of Management Careers and Employment Partnerships. Job searches often come down to doing some old-fashioned scouting on the ground, Kennedy said, adding that actively approaching employers can make a bigger impression than simply sending in a resumé by email.

“What students should do if they really want to make a go of it is to look for companies that don’t have the capacity to advertise for those summer jobs,” Kennedy said. “If you can identify and find those companies and approach them proactively, that will give you a much better chance.”

Finding employment can be difficult in urban centres and university towns. Many students go back to their hometowns where the competition is less fierce and jobs are easier to come by.

Laura Hamel, a Ryerson first-year performance acting student, said the cost of living in Toronto was a factor in her deciding to move home for the summer to work.

Kennedy said the summer job market comes down to basic supply and demand, making finding employment difficult.

“On the supply side, you basically have a lot of students that are looking for jobs during the summer months — and that’s fine as long as the demand’s there,” Kennedy said. “The demand really hasn’t been there since 2008.”

Brennan Thompson, undergraduate program director at Ryerson’s department of economics, said that the recession of 2008 has brought everyone down a notch when it comes to the job market.

“The guy who was working at the auto assembly plant loses his job and now he’s taking the low paid job at Tim Horton’s,” Thompson said. “Now the young person who used to have that job at Tim Horton’s [doesn’t] have anything.”

Although Kennedy says the market is starting to bounce back, finding a summer job is far more challenging compared to ten years ago. Even in a city as big as Toronto, competition can be fierce because of the large amounts of students looking for temporary employment.

“If you go on to Monster or Workopolis and you type in ‘summer jobs,’ you’re going to find job postings,” Kennedy said. “The problem is there are about four million other students across Canada who are going to find those same job postings.”

Including employment that’s unrelated to your career field on your resumé is a good idea, Kennedy said. Employers look at how your skills have evolved, even if the job you had was just bussing tables. The hard skills you gain might not be related to your future career, but the soft skills — like leadership, problem solving and customer service experience — will be useful.

“No one is expecting you to graduate and have four years of senior project management experience,” Kennedy said. “What they want to see is that there’s a progression.”


Photo: Farnia Fekri/The Eyeopener