The Covid-19 pandemic has not only increased the Canadian unemployment rate, but it has also significantly hit students who rely on their jobs and summer jobs to pay for tuition and other student expenses. According to Statistics Canada, in March 2020 the “youth employment rate fell by 392,000”. YIKES! Students rely on their jobs to pay for tuition and other living expenses, but they also rely on these jobs to gain valuable work experience that will help them launch their careers once they graduate.
If the youth employment rate has already dropped, what will it look like in the coming months? Many students rely on their summer jobs to save for their school year expenses…
The Summer Student Job Landscape is Looking a Little Grim…
Some employers are hiring as their businesses are booming during the pandemic, but many companies are going through workforce reductions. Even if some employers can still financially hire students (if their business is still afloat or even booming), they may not be able to provide the same resources for training and mentoring students. A vast majority of workplaces that would hire summer interns have moved to “work from home” programs. With a remote workforce (some of which have school-aged children home with them), it has made it significantly harder for employers to provide students with job opportunities as they cannot adequately train and develop them. Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic has left the summer student job landscape looking a little grim.
If you are a student who hasn’t been able to find a summer job or maybe you did find one, but your job offer was rescinded or postponed…. you are not alone.
The good news is, there are options to help you! I am here to provide you with 7 tips to help you through the struggle!
1. Determine Who IS Hiring
First off, see who IS hiring. As I mentioned earlier, companies that have not been hit by the pandemic are still hiring. See what jobs are out there and look for a summer job. If you are submitting applications and are not being booked in for a phone screen or in-person interview, then it may be the quality of your resume.
2. Focus on How You Can Build Your Transferable Skills
Depending on what your reason is for working (do you need the money or are you looking for experience…), focus on finding any job that will help you build transferable skills. It may not be your ideal job, but working in a position that is considered an essential service (like grocery stores and supply chains backing essential services) will provide you with more experience then you probably think it does – especially during these times. For example, companies have gone above and beyond in providing employees with Health and Safety Training and have been forced to rewrite standard operating procedures (SOPs) to manage through these times. Depending on careers that you are looking to pursue, these can be very important experiences that you can place on your resume.
3. Start or Join a Student-Run Organization
If you don’t need the money but you were counting on a summer internship to provide you with valuable job experience, then consider starting your own organization or join an existing one. There are so many student-run organizations that operate like a real business (with real job descriptions). Look for a role that will provide you with meaningful experience and is in-line with your future career goals. If let’s say, you are looking for a career in Human Resources, find a student organization that doesn’t have job descriptions and put your hand up for that project… and then plaster it on your resume!
If you can’t find a student organization that suits you and your goals, then start your own – give yourself the exact experience you want to put on your resume.
4. Ask for an Opportunity to Job Shadow Virtually
If you were offered your dream summer job only to have the start date postponed or the offer was rescinded altogether due to the pandemic, reach out to the Hiring Manager or Human Resources and ask them if there is an opportunity for you to job shadow virtually.
You need to be tactful in how you ask for this as you do not want to come across as pushy and not understanding the state of the world. Use this as a tactic to keep your foot in the door should things turn around in the upcoming months and so that they remember you for any future opportunities (next summer). Let them know that you were really looking forward to joining the team and were excited about all the experience that you would have gained while working for them. Ask politely if you could virtually job shadow for a few hours (total) by participating in a couple of team meetings or brainstorming sessions (where appropriate), and virtually spend a little one-on-one time with team members to gain a better understanding of the industry, company, and department.
This will not get you any money you were hoping to work for this summer, but it will help you build your network, and stay in touch with the team. You’ll also have the opportunity to learn about the industry, company, and department. It will also show the hiring manager / Human Resources that you took initiative and came up with an idea to remain connected with the organization. Be sure to bring questions to the one-on-one sessions!
5. Spend Your Time Off Looking and Applying for Scholarships to Help Make Up for Your Loss of Income
If you are unable to find a summer job to help pay for your student debts and save for the next school year, use your free time to look for and apply for scholarships. With the free time on your hands, because you are not working, you can search for scholarships that you are eligible for, complete applications, and write any essays that are required.
If you need a place to start your scholarship search, here are some great websites!
Need some help looking and applying for scholarships? Take a look at this blog post to learn more about how ReRouting’s partner Young Scholar can help you when applying for scholarships.
6. Swap Your Initial Summer Plans
The truth is, we don’t know how long this will all last and it may be time to make a more practical decision. If you are stuck inside your home, jobless, staring out the window wishing you could head out hiking or sit on a restaurant patio with your friends… you might want to be more realistic. The truth is, you are stuck at home, you might as well be productive. If you can swing it financially, consider enrolling in online courses for the spring/summer term to accelerate the completion of your degree or diploma; or, to allow you to take fewer courses in the fall and work part-time then to fund your education (assuming student part-time jobs are available and we aren’t in a full recession).
7. Look for a Mentor and Build Your Referral Network
I can’t stress enough how important it is to build a network that will help you in pursuing your career. One of the easiest to find a job when you are fresh out of school and lacking experience is through a referral. If you don’t currently know any professionals working within the field or industry you’d like to work in – then start searching. Find professionals on LinkedIn, connect with family, your parent’s friends…or your friends’ parents. Ask if they can talk to you about the profession and provide you with insight and valuable feedback to help you establish yourself.
There are so many people out there who want to help and mentor young professionals, you just need to find them! Don’t be afraid to ASK!
In addition to looking for professionals in the field who can support you, it is also important to network with your peers. Join student clubs and organizations that match your interests and future goals and network with like-minded peers.
ReRouting’s NEW Facebook Group
ReRouting has recently started a Facebook Group for students – look at the group via our Facebook page and request to join. Shoot me your questions through this forum, and I’ll be sure to get back to you as quick as I can. With a no-judgment policy, I am asking that you publicly ask the questions on the board, as it may be a question that other students have as well.
By joining the group you’ll have access to other students like you, who are transitioning from the life of a student to the world of work. Start sharing your stories and networking with like-minded students. Use this platform as an opportunity to learn from and support one another. Build relationships so you can start referring one another!
Take Initiative and Create Your Own Path Forward
Not only has the Covid-19 impacted public health, it has also led to a significant increase in unemployment across the country – making it that much harder for students to find jobs for the summer. The lack of jobs available and increased competition in the job market will leave several students struggling to find jobs this summer. Hopefully these tips will help you either find money to help fund your education and/or gain valuable experience to launch your career. If you can’t find the opportunities you were hoping for, create your own!
If you do find a job, remember to stay healthy by taking all the safety precautions as recommended by Public Health and your employer!