A UBC expert offers advice for students looking for summer work
For students who haven’t landed a summer job, Carol Naylor, the director of the Centre for Student Involvement and Careers, says it’s not too late to obtain meaningful summer work this year and for years to come.
Is it too late to find a summer job?
The truth is that the earlier you start, the better. Surveys show that the opportunities are broader, typically the pay is higher, and you are more likely to find a job related to your field of study if you start early. As soon as exams are over, it’s time to jump into your job search.
What advice would give job seekers?
Your job search strategy needs to be a mixture of applying for posted jobs as well as networking. Did you know that some studies estimate only one in 200 resumés results in a job offer, but one in 12 career conversations with people in your network results in a job offer?
Think of networking as an investment. It may not pay off immediately but it could pay off next summer. If you’d like to be involved in kids educational programs but don’t see any advertised jobs, get out there anyway. Reach out and contact some programmers at local community centres or organizations and ask to meet in person. Maybe they don’t have a job right now but things can change. Someone who accepted a job may move away or change their mind. Maybe a position will open up in the fall. Maybe you’ll learn about a volunteer experience that could turn into a paid opportunity in the future.
What happens if you can’t find a job in the field you want to work in? Is it worth taking a job in an unrelated industry like the service industry?
Think longer term than this summer. If you’re not thrilled with your options consider working part-time and using some of the extra time to take a course, volunteer or get involved in your community. More students are working throughout the traditional academic year, perhaps with a reduced course load, and then taking some classes while also working and gaining experience in the summer. A recent survey says that nearly one-third of university students in Canada are mixing a combination of work, study and volunteering.
One interesting statistic is that just under 60 per cent of students are working in positions that they’ve previously held. This might be a past summer job, or it might be a job they’ve held throughout the academic year. This is because organizations are eager to retain or re-employ students who have come to know their business. So, although it can seem like a big investment, you might find it motivating to remember that the job you get this summer could be a job you stay with – or grow in – for a few years.
What’s a better choice, a job where you make more money or one where you gain valuable experience but don’t earn as much?
There’s no easy answer to this and it will depend on your financial circumstance, your career goals and so on. Sometimes a job with later hours and higher pay gives you time to pursue other things.
Think beyond what kind of job you want this summer and think about what kinds of experiences you want to gain. Paid work is only one way to get experience; volunteering and community service are always options. You develop skills, learn about yourself, create new networks, and boost your employability. If you know that your job is not that challenging, think about other ways that you can expand your network and your skills. We know that employers are looking for candidates who demonstrate entrepreneurial thinking and who are self-motivated learners. Consider volunteering, putting some time into a hobby, mastering a new skill, or getting started on an initiative that’s always been on your mind. It’s an opportunity to get exposure to something that interests you.
In summary, what are your top five tips for finding a job?
- Start early
- Know yourself – and target your job search towards jobs that fit with your strengths and interests
- Don’t rely only on posted jobs. Learn the art of networking – online and in person. Spend time each week getting out there and talking to people who are working in organizations and jobs that interest you
- Read the news. Talk to people. Learn about the industries and organizations that are hiring
- Don’t know where to start? Visit a university career centre or an employment service centre. The help is free