Taking the time to thoughtfully prepare a targeted self-marketing plan will significantly increase your chances of finding summer work. Start early, as recruitment for summer positions begins as early as October.
Consider the following questions
What do you need from your summer work?
- Do you want to improve your transferable, work related or technical skills? Do you want to work in a job related to your future career?
- Is income the most important consideration?
What do you have to offer?
- List your interests and knowledge, skills and accomplishments (KSAs). Consider what you have learned through academic programs, projects, papers, and fellow peers. Furthermore, include your co-curricular, volunteer and previous work experience also.
- Attend the Discover Your Skills and Career Options workshop to get additional insight into your KSAs. Sign-up through the Career Learning Network, cln.utoronto.ca. Click on Events and Workshops.
What are employers looking for in a candidate?
- Read job descriptions and employer websites carefully
- Talk to employers at campus events
- Other key traits that employers value are quick learners, hard workers, who are reliable, honest, and require little supervision
What if You Don’t Have a Lot of Experience?
The following positions typically require little or no previous experience:
- Work Study (on-campus): Summer positions advertised as early as mid-April. These include opportunities in research, customer service and clerical/office work
- Customer Service: cashier, sales staff, store clerk
- Hospitality/Tourism: hotels, restaurants
- Labour: construction, landscaping, manufacturing, tree planning
- Offices: data entry, reception, clerical
- Personal Services: child/elder care, cleaner, driver, lawn maintenance
- Recreation: camp counsellor, special events, pool attendant
Through jobs like these, you can learn transferable skills that employers are looking for, including: interpersonal, teamwork, research, technical, problem solving, time management and leadership.
Resumes, cover letters, LinkedIn and interview skills are your key tools for marketing yourself to potential employers.
Attend our workshops: Winning Resumes and Cover Letters, LinkedIn for Job Search, Interview Techniques to Land that Job, and Making Connections: Networking Strategies.
Have your resume critiqued in the AA&CC, or book a one-one mock interview session with a Career Counsellor or Career Strategist.
Once you have a basic understanding of what you have to offer and what employers are seeking, it is time to start researching work opportunities.
- Career Learning Network (Jobs section) - cln.utoronto.ca
- Charity Village (non-profit sector) - www.charityvillage.com
- Service Canada Job Bank (free job posting board) - www.jobbank.gc.ca
- Talent Egg (entry-level and student jobs) - www.talentegg.ca
- Workopolis Students - www.workopolis.com/EN/students/student-jobs
Find Those Hidden Jobs
Since advertised jobs only account for roughly 20% of available opportunities, you need to uncover positions that are not advertised. Be creative, resourceful, organized and open to all possible options.
Tell EVERYONE you know you are looking for summer work in particular areas.
Attend AA&CC events like the Summer Job Fair, Networking Events, Volunteer Fair, Industry Talks, and Company Information Sessions.
Research specific via online directories. In CLN, click on Resources for access to the Directory of Careers series.
Use LinkedIn to research compan ies and potential opportunities.
Attend on-campus and off-campus conferences and network.
Government Employment Programs
Many municipalities, regions and boards offer summer employment. You can find out about these opportunities by visiting their websites.
- Canadian Heritage – Young Canada Works - www.pch.gc.ca/special/jct-ycw
- Explore Program - www.myexplore.ca
- Federal Summer Work Employment Program - jobs-emplois.gc.ca/fswep-pfete/index-eng.php
- Government of Ontario Summer Jobs - www.ontario.ca/jobs-and-employment/summer-jobs-students
- Legislative Assembly of Ontario – www.ontla.on.ca/lao/en/office-of-the-assembly/employment/
- Ministry of Natural Resources – Summer Experience Program - www.mnr.gov.on.ca/en/Business/Youth/2ColumnSubPage/STEL02_163394.html
- National Research Council (NRC) Summer Employment: www.servicecanada.gc.ca/eng/goc/nrc_summer_employment.shtml
- Ontario Ministry of Training Colleges and Universities – Summer Job Service: www.tcu.gov.on.ca/eng/jobseekers/sjs.html
- Internships: Internships can be a valuable way to build your experience.
- Starting Your Own Business: Do you have a business idea? Consider starting your own business. Please review the Entrepreneurship tip sheet for a list of resources
Inappropriately - Phrased Questions
Sometimes an employer may ask for overly personal information such as marital or family status. Questions about your ethnicity, citizenship, age, and other very personal topics are also not appropriate in an employment application or interview, even though they are frequently asked with good intentions. For example, an employer might ask about your religious practices, when what s/he really wants to know is whether or not you are available to work on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
You are not obligated to answer these overly personal questions. One way to get around them is to ask for clarification on how the issue connects to the employment situation. Then you can provide the information the employer actually wanted, like, “I can work Saturdays or Sundays.”
Please note: While every effort is made to avoid errors, practices do change. This tip sheet is intended as an informational document only.
Last update: September 2014