If there’s one piece of advice that career development professional Jen Davies has for students given the current economic circumstances, it’s to take advantage of programs designed to help.
“There are resources available to you,” says Davies, manager, career development services at U of T Scarborough’s Academic Advising & Career Centre.
“If the government or the university is offering something, please take advantage of it. These are designed to assist students, especially in this difficult time.”
Davies points to the federal government’s recently-announced $9 billion student aid bill as an important one.
Under the plan, eligible post-secondary students and recent graduates will receive $1,250 a month from May to August. Students with a disability or a dependent will be eligible to receive $2,000 a month, making it equal to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) that was announced back in March. Some students will also qualify got the CERB if they earned over $5,000 last year.
The aid package also involves extending scholarships, grants and fellowships, doubling the Canada Student Grant program, as well as a new Canada Student Service Grant that offers up to $5,000 towards tuition for students who volunteer in a sector affected by COVID-19. The bill is currently being fast-tracked through parliament.
“This program is aimed at helping post-secondary students or recent graduates whose work and education prospects have been affected by the pandemic,” says Davies.
Meanwhile, the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP), which helps students gain meaningful work experience, is still running. The federal government also recently announced changes to the Summer Jobs Program that will create more than 70,000 jobs for youth across Canada, and the Canada Job Bank has also set up a COVID-19 page listing jobs still available in various industries.
The Government of Ontario has a site dedicated to employment services and job postings in Ontario. The City of Toronto also has a job posting board, but a message on the site notes that new job postings “will be limited to essential or high priority postings” until further notice.
U of T is also still offering jobs through its Work Study program. The jobs are available to enrolled U of T students and listed on the Career and Co-Curricular Learning Network (CLNx) website. Many work study employers are looking for students to start in May, so apply sooner rather than later, says Davies.
She notes that a lot of summer job hiring is already done, with many places having application deadlines earlier in the year. For example, application deadlines for many of the summer jobs through the Government of Ontario were due in February.
“That doesn’t mean there aren’t jobs out there, it’s just a good thing to keep in mind that the summer job search should usually begin as early as January,” she adds.
As far as job boards go, Davies recommends Magnet because of its employer-candidate matching functions, as well as Talentegg for its focus on early career jobs and the fact it has advice available 24/7 to students when career centres are closed. She also recommends Indeed, Google and Workopolis for their wide selection of postings.
As the pandemic continues to unfold, Davies also recommends that students continue to check the news for announcements about new student grant and job opportunities, or check the government website on how to apply.
In part three of the series we will look at free career and skill services available to U of T students, and offer tips and advice on how to conduct virtual interviews.