By Leah Hansen
When Parth Patel was in his first few years of the engineering program, he found getting a summer job to be quite challenging.
“I applied to more than 60 or 70 jobs,” he 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 before, especially since the 2008 economic crisis when markets around the world crashed. Searching through thousands of job listings online, perfecting your resumé and sending it out can take hours.
But if you’re hoping to score that ideal job, going back to the basics is the way to go, said Daniel Kennedy, a career consultant at Ted Rogers School of Management careers and employment partnerships centre.
“If you go into [the websites] Monster or Workopolis and you type in ‘summer jobs’ you’re going to find job postings,” he said. “The problem is there are about four million other students across Canada who are going to find those same job postings.”
It often comes down to doing some old-fashioned scouting on the ground, Kennedy said, adding that proactively approaching employers can make a bigger impression than simply sending 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,” he said. “If you can identify, and find those companies and approach them proactively, that will give you a much better chance.”
Because finding a job can be so difficult in Toronto, many students decide to go back to their hometowns for the summer, where the competition is less fierce and jobs are easier to come by.
Laura Hamel, a first-year performance acting student said she’ll be moving back home for the summer because of the cost of living in Toronto.
“I’m from Regina so I’ll be moving home to find a job,” she said.
“It’s a lot cheaper to live at home and I have a solid job at home.” For Patel, scoring a job came with a visit to his sister in Calgary one summer. While he was there, he applied to only five or six jobs and ended up getting a summer position that matched his field.
The summer job market comes down to basic supply and demand, Kennedy said.
“On the supply side, you have basically a lot of students that are looking for jobs during the summer months and that’s fine as long as the demand’s there,” he said.
“The demand really hasn’t been there since 2008.” Brennan Thompson, undergraduate program director in the school of economics says 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 lowpaid job at Tim Horton’s,” he said.
“Now the young person who used to have that job at Tim Horton’s[doesn’t] have anything.” Kennedy says the market is starting to bounce back. But compared to 10 years ago, finding a summer job is far more of a challenge. Even in a city as big as Toronto, competition can be fierce because there are so many students looking for temporary employment.
According to Kennedy, even if the job you end up with isn’t at all related to your field, it’s still a good idea to include it on your resumé. 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 skills, problemsolving abilities and customer service experience – will come in handy.
“No one is expecting you to graduate here and have four years of senior project management experience,” he said.
“What they want to see is that there’s a progression.”