*This article was originally published July 7, 2020 on SFU OLC’s blog.*
Getting a job at a grocery store was definitely not what I was expecting to do with my last summer before graduation. I had big plans to apply to marketing and communications student positions and to make the most out of my education and off-time to get relevant experience, but when COVID-19 hit, I knew I just needed a job in general.
I’d been looking forward to this summer all of spring semester. As a soon-to-be graduate from the School of Communications, with just a few credits left in my degree, I had begun looking for industry-applicable experience, hoping to identify some jobs I could apply to. I had big plans to make the most out of my education, apply for student positions in marketing and communications and beef up my resume, before being thrown headfirst out into the working world. Using my off-time to get relevant experience didn’t quite turn out the way I had hoped. Getting a job at a grocery store was definitely not what I was expecting to do with my last summer before graduation, but it is the option I had no choice but to take – for a while.
You might say I’ve had my fair share of experience in making adjustments. In the past four years, I’ve transferred schools, switched majors, added a minor and studied abroad. Despite my skills in being adaptable, there’s really nothing any of us might have done to prepare for a pandemic. We’ve all had different experiences dealing with COVID-19 and no one person is going to be put in the exact same situation due to a variety of circumstances. The impact on students is notable, with classes now online for the foreseeable future, and the different ways we are all dealing with the current uncertainty in employment.
Some of us have been lucky enough to find or maintain temporary work as we continue our studies. Others may have been planning on doing a co-op or getting work experience in their field of study and now need to re-route. I know I was feeling overwhelmed and stuck in one place because I was unable to find applicable job experience.
When COVID-19 hit, I knew I just needed a job in general. I found out a friend was working at a nearby store, I applied, and was hired on the spot. I’ll admit, I felt shame for taking something I wasn’t passionate about, but I felt a sense of purpose, stayed busy and the work environment was positive. If you’re in the same position, remind yourself that these are hard times! It’s okay to keep that same retail job you’ve had for 3 years now, or to take temporary work while you wait for the market to get stronger.
No one could have predicted that this is what our summer would look like, but there’s still time to search for a summer job that’s applicable to your field of study. Using the resources below, working with a career educator at CVS and not giving up, landed me the exact sort of position (in marketing and communications!) I’d been looking for. Here are a few options for students, if you’re feeling stuck:
1. Look beyond Indeed!
There is no doubt that Indeed has become a helpful digital job marketing service over the last few years, but it isn’t the be-all-end-all! Many industries have their own tools that offer more specialized results catered to what you’re looking for. Facebook Groups, LinkedIn Alumni, and sites listed here, are great to watch, too.
2. Check for Canadian Government resources
The Canadian Job Bank has a section on their website dedicated to students returning in the fall! Much like Indeed, you can use filters to narrow down location and job description. Since these jobs are meant for students, the competition will be thinner as well.
3. Don’t discount volunteering quite yet!
Volunteering may feel like a thing of the past for an experienced student, but it is still an amazing way to get experience while maintaining a job that pays the bills in these unprecedented times. You can earn up to $5000 for tuition by volunteering through the Canada Student Service Grant this summer.
Remember, we have our whole lives ahead of us to get new experience and build our careers. Finding a way to pay the bills didn’t stop me from continuing to search. If I can do it, you can too.