How are Career Boost students working through the COVID-19 pandemic?

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By Samreen Maqsood

As the winter semester at Ryerson continues to be completely online amid the state of emergency in Ontario, Career Boost students are being accommodated to work remotely from their homes.

In an email from the senior manager of Career Boost, Thoywell Hemmings, he said the program immediately asked all supervisors to adjust roles and responsibilities so positions could be performed remotely in response to Ryerson’s working from home order last March. 

According to Savanna Embury-Mulhern, a second-year creative industries student who works as a campus engagement ambassador for the Faculty of Communication and Design, in her position and department, nothing changed in terms of job availability.

“[However], some jobs such as those working at the [Recreation and Athletics Centre] or [Mattamy Athletic Centre] that cannot really be done remotely…those have been put on hold for now,” she said.

The work hours offered to each student is up to the supervisor’s discretion based on their operation needs, according to Hemmings.

Most Career Boost students generally work 10-15 hours per week with some exceptions, depending on the position. Campus engagement ambassadors, for example, work 10 hours a week, according to Sophia Li, a second-year public health student at Ryerson and a campus engagement ambassador for the Faculty of Community Services. Campus engagement ambassadors plan and promote events to help students build career-related skills.  

“Career Boost roles are generally pretty flexible not just in the hours but also in nature. My role, for example, involves giving class talks to promote the Career & Co-op Centre’s programming and services. As I can’t do in-person presentations anymore, my work adjusted to conducting them virtually through asynchronous (email slides and recordings) and synchronous methods (on Zoom),” said Li. 

The work hours offered to each student is up to the supervisor’s discretion based on their operation needs, according to Hemmings. Additionally, students hired under the Career Boost program continue to be paid while working remotely. 

Career Boost students are asked to strictly follow safety protocols that apply to all Ryerson employees.

For students who continue to work from home, a COVID-19 safety precaution training on personal protective equipment (PPE) and sanitization were not required. However, news and updates from the university’s Human Resources department are sent regularly to inform students on proper processes if they ever need to go back on campus, said Li.    

“If any student hired as part of the Career Boost program was asked by their supervisor to work on campus, the supervisor was asked to follow the safety protocols outlined for all Ryerson employees,” said Hemmings.

During the pandemic, Career Boost continues to support students and provide resources to help during the tough times. 

Emma Kelly, a fourth-year chemical engineering student at Ryerson working as a Student Initiatives Fund (SIF) outreach and promotions assistant, said that the pandemic did not negatively impact her treatment by Career Boost in terms of reduced hours or her pay being affected.

“Everyone is super friendly and welcoming despite the fact that we only see one another over Zoom,” she said.

Other students share similar experiences, saying that Career Boost has accommodated different time zones, with students working from British Columbia and Alberta. Some say that Career Boost allows working students to take a break and unwind with their colleagues. 

“During my team meetings, we often play a game to just give us a break from classes and reading on the computer all day,” said Embury-Mulhern.

“There’s been a really big focus on wellness and we’ve been given reading suggestions and many resources to cope with any sort of problems we might be having in regards to the pandemic,” she added.

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