Getting involved on campus can have you spending afternoons in ways you never thought you would. I have moved dozens of boxes of books at a college book sale, interviewed complete strangers in the Arbor Room for a blog, entered endless data for a psychology lab, and helped build a stone wall at Hart House Farm.
So if you’re looking for a way to earn some money, gain valuable experience or just have a good time, one great way to get involved (and paid!) is to apply for a work-study position at U of T. (Not all of my odd jobs were work-study positions but they certainly were interesting!)
Work-Study /wərk ˈstədē/: To you work where you study.
e.g., John is a student at U of T and also got a sweet gig working for one of the departments as a work-study student.
The ‘work-study’ positions are generally more flexible than other part-time jobs and designed for students. They offer a chance to work closely with a prof or department while getting paid.
This year, there are work-study positions for opportunities like helping a prof curate the collections at the Royal Ontario Museum, setting up the exhibits at the Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscaping and Design, and researching “Rainforest Livelihoods in the Amazon” through the Department of Geography.
Here’s how you too can get one of these work-study positions:
Finding Work-Study Positions
- Log on to the Career Centre website with your UtorID to check out listings. Listings are generally only available in Sept./Oct. as that’s when hiring happens.
- Ask your profs, program, department or college for leads on work-study positions they may know about. If you would like to get to know that prof/program/department/etc. better, a work-study is a solid way to do it.
- Write resume. Get help with said resume (and cover letter) at a Career Centre Resume Workshop or see the Academic Success Centre experts for help with writing, or have your resume proofread by family and friends. Typos or obvious errors are a sure-fire way to tank your application. Lots of resources are available online through U of T services as well.
- Actually, write resumes, plural. You’ll want to have a few different types of resumes on hand if you’ll be applying for everything from research assistant to food services attendant. Make sure you tailor your resumes to the positions’ descriptions.
- Apply to (lots of) ones you’re interested in. It may not go well the first or second time you apply to a position — they can be competitive — so make sure you have some other options in mind.
The Actual Work Part
- Be a good employee. You know, show up on time, do work, try to avoid posting relentlessly on Facebook, etc. Don’t forget that you may want to ask your supervisor to be a reference one day! (And/or maybe you’ll be colleagues at some point).
- If it goes well, ask about advancement opportunities for next year. Many places have “research assistant – level 2” or shift supervisor positions for which they are more likely to hire someone they already know.
- The fine print. All the work-study positions pay minimum wage plus 4% vacation pay and you can only work up to 12 hours per week.
- Go enjoy your hard-earned mulla! But also save it by visiting my Website of the Week: nourishmeforfree.com for free food tips on campus.
If nothing else, work-study positions are worth considering as they offer paid experience with a prof or department… and the chance to tell your grand-kids about how you once moved dozens of boxes of these heavy things called “books” with your bare hands.