You might wake up every morning and feel like this. (I know the feeling, guys, believe me, I’ve had a nasty cold all week and even getting out of bed has been a struggle.) But even still, the reality is that every fall a bunch of us students look for part-time jobs to help pay for our expenses.
(Sorry, I couldn’t help but post this video. This song is fantastic.) Anyway, working during the school year can be achieved without bringing down your GPA. I’ve seen it done and done well. But I’ve also seen people completely break-down under the pressure of trying to manage too many things at once! It’s all about finding balance and completely mastering the art of prioritizing and time management. If you find the right job and learn to organize like crazy, working and studying is totally doable. And, in the process, you not only get some money in the bank but you get some real-life job skills to put on your resume and you’ll actually have banked up a few employers who can serve as references after graduation.
But of course, with the wrong job — the one that is too time-consuming; the one that has the nightmare boss; the one that gives you stress dreams where you wake up screaming and throw the covers off of yourself like they’re trying to steal your wallet or something — well, with those jobs, the work/study balance can be precarious.
I definitely endorse working and studying at the same time. I did it last year, and I think that it gives you a healthy dose of perspective on how you can make whatever you’re studying applicable to the real world. But the trick is to avoid those nightmare jobs whenever possible.
Working on campus is one of the best bets to avoid bosses like this. As a general rule, most on-campus employers understand that you’re a student, and they’ll be more likely to give you some leeway if, for instance, you’re in the middle of the mid-term schedule from hell.You’ll physically be on campus at work, so it’s much easier to go straight from a shift at work to the library, and working behind the scenes of your regular student experience helps you learn more about the university and how to take advantage of all of the opportunities offered.
A few of my good friends in the Art History program work at the Justina M. Barnicke Gallery, getting some curatorial and gallery experience while earning some cash, and use the experience they have there to relate it to their work at the Fine Arts Student Union and the Hart House Art Committee. Another friend did a Work-Study Position in her college’s student life office, which helped her get enough know-how and experience to secure her summer position and score her a cool community-service placement in the fall. The cool thing is that working on campus doesn’t have to just be that thing you have to do so that you can afford your morning coffee. If you do your research and figure out where you want to work and what you want to do, it can be a stepping stone that will lead you to your dream job. (I mean, I don’t want to over-sell it. Maybe it won’t lead you to your “dream job” but it can lead to other cool opportunities which leads to other cool opportunities.)
Ok, so have I sold you on this yet? If I have, be prepared to start your job search immediately! I know that September still feels like it’s a long way off, but in the job hunt you have to start early! a great place to start your search is at the Career Centre. Click the “Student” tab and click on “Job Search.” (You’ll have to either register or log in to get to this next part.) From here, you can do an ‘Advanced’ search and only see the jobs on campus. I just did a quick search, and currently there’s not too many positions listed. But don’t despair! Not all jobs end up getting posted. Some of the major employers on campus are the libraries at U of T, the U of T Bookstore, The Faculty of Physical Education & Health, and Hart House. Check on their individual websites often to see if any new positions have been posted. Also, consider networking with your professors and course unions to hear about any research assistant positions as they become available!
The Work-Study program is provided through the Career Centre, for students who are eligible for financial aid. (And a little bird told me that the Office of Student Life will be posting Work-Study positions soon!) Keep in mind that you don’t have to necessarily qualify for OSAP! You just need to demonstrate financial need to the satisfaction of the office of Admissions and Awards.
The Career Centre also offers a bunch of services to help you GET the job, once you’ve found the job that you want. Check out their resume drop-in clinic and practice interviews to help get the confidence you need to nab the job.