A day in the life of a work-study: Laura

With Work Study positions being posted on April 18, I talked to Laura, a recent grad, about her experience as a Work Study student. Work Study positions allow students enrolled in courses to get paid work experience on campus. In her third and fourth years at U of T, Laura worked as the Assistant to the Theatre Manager at the George Ignatieff Theatre at Trinity College through the program.

Laura with her feet up in the seats of the George Ignatieff Theatre.

Laura looking at home in the George Ignatieff Theatre.

Laura says that a typical day would include administrative work, staff meetings, and handling client relations. She picked up a lot of skills on the job – minuting meetings, training new staff, writing white papers, running meetings, managing events and venues, technical skills, and more.

The experience also taught her a lot about the workplace. “I learned a lot of sort of tacit skills you can only get from experience, like how to anticipate problems and try to stop them before they start, how to build lasting relations with industry contacts,” she says.

“I was given a lot of independence and a lot of opportunity for self-reflection. I learned the importance of asking for help and of communication,” she adds.

The position also gave Laura access to the theatre world and to a lot of shows and events. “I got to work with professors and to sit in on lectures on all kinds of topics that were given in the theatre. I got to see a lot of really cool shows I wouldn’t have otherwise known about¬†like dance shows and cultural shows,” she says.

The position wasn’t without new challenges. Laura says she had to learn on the job – a lot – and that managing peers was sometimes awkward and difficult. “Being a leader, being in charge of your peers, can be tough. But it’s so important to learn how to negotiate that, and it taught me a lot about myself,” she explains.

Laura with her George Ignatieff Theatre t-shirt; the t-shirt says "George Ignatieff Theatre: creating leaders of tomorrow through arts, culture, fellow, and ingenuity" and shows drawings of people.

Laura with her George Ignatieff Theatre t-shirt

My last question to Laura: why should other students try out a Work Study position this summer?

“You should do it because you will learn about yourself, about working with others, and about building a relationship with an employer. You will have a lot of fun, build confidence, and work with someone who understands how hard it is to be a student and have a job simultaneously, and will totally get it if you need to leave early so you can hit Robarts,” she says, adding, “You should do it because it’s another way to learn! Find a position that aligns with what you’re studying, or lets you explore something new, and it will complement what you are learning in the classroom, too.”

Work Study positions will be posted on the Career Learning Centre on April 18. To be eligible, you must be taking at least a 40% course load over the summer (a.k.a. registered in at least 1.0 credits from May to August). Learn more about the Work Study program on the Career Centre website. Got questions about Work Study? Ask me in the comments! 


Danielle is the summer 2015 Communications Intern at the Office of Student Life. She wrapped up her undergrad this year and will be entering a master's program at U of T in the fall, studying in the Faculty of Information. She previously studied English and Jewish Studies with a minor in History. Danielle studied abroad twice, in Jerusalem and Berlin, did a service learning course, and did a few work-study positions. Her favourite part of her undergrad was working at The Varsity, the campus newspaper. She was the editor-in-chief in her final year. She's passionate about good writing, student journalism, reading, knitting, long walks (on the beach or otherwise), and table tennis, which she insists she is very good at, though her friends may not agree. You can reach her on twitter @lifeatuoft over the summer if you want to chat!

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