As the semester comes to a close, I usually find myself stressing—not about school but about finding a summer job. Last year, I started my search in November, and by the time April rolled around still wasn’t quite sure what I was going to do in the summer. Most of my friends don’t start searching for a summer job until reading week and when I tell them I’ve been attending CV workshops and mock interview events for months, they’re usually surprised.
My desire for a summer job isn’t simply due to the fact that I like having something to do with my four months of summer. As an Arts student, I’ve always been conscious of the fact that I don’t have a direct career path, like Engineering or Management students. Lining up summer jobs, becoming exposed to different industries, and networking are even more important for students who won’t have a clear career lined up at the end of their four years of study.
My sister claims that I spend more time writing about how hard it is to find a summer job than actually applying to summer jobs—but I promise I don’t.
Finding a summer job is not only difficult; it’s actually a full-time job in itself. Some days I find myself spending more time on my job applications than school work. One of the biggest challenges students face today is the increase in demands from employers. Not only do employers want straight-A students, they also want employees with relevant work experience, tons of extra-curriculars, and knowledge of foreign languages and cultures. Talk about high expectations! It’s starting to become a little unrealistic, and the problem is that there hasn’t been a way to directly engage with Canadian employers and express these feelings.
It turns out that some Canadian organizations are trying to get the voices of our generation heard. Last year I stumbled upon a Canadian job site and career resource for new grads called TalentEgg.ca, and I started writing for their online magazine. When they wanted to start a campaign engaging with Canadian employers, I immediately submitted my story to their project called Student Voice. So far, lots of stories have been shared and hopefully this will start informing employers that this job process is unfair to students.
One of things that I find particularly unfair is the lack of feedback given to students who spend an enormous amount of time applying for jobs. I once had to submit over 20 essay questions with an application. After putting in a lot of time and effort, I was hoping to receive at least a standard confirmation email that they received it. I didn’t. This is part of what makes the job process so frustrating.
Finding a summer job for a good student with lots of extra-curricular experience shouldn’t be this hard—or should it? Is this just preparing us for reality, showing our generation that finding a job is not easy and it’s a lot of hard work? That may be true, but it is also true that we deserve to see a change in this job process—and it starts with letting employers know our concerns.
For now, it’s back to the drawing board, also known as my Google search engine.