It is often very challenging for a student to find their
first summer job, or for that matter, their second or fourth! The first job
objection is of course that you don’t have any experience, so how do you get
experience without experience.

There is an interesting shift in the tactics of students looking for work in
this decade. The most obvious place to start looking it seems is with your
parents. Your baby boomer parents are usually very well connected, have had
several jobs over their careers or worked in many different departments of the
same company for the last 30 years and have an active network. A friend of mine
has done his son’s job search for him for the last 5 years, reality will set in
one day but so far it has kept his student child gainfully, though remarkably
underemployed for his capabilities… It beats doing your own search though,

If skills are what you are lacking, look at your strengths. Consider how you
attack a project or your homework or your attitude towards life. Are you eager
to learn, have lots of enthusiasm, like to take risks, welcome challenge and
variety? Maybe you can speak more than one language and have done babysitting or
helped neighbors with yard work. Spend some time soul searching what you would
like to find and what you definitely don’t want to be doing.

Before you do anything else you will want to pick up “The Canadian Summer
Job Directory
“, by Sentor Media.

Author Kevin Makra says the first thing one has to do to find employment is
to consider the types of jobs available to you. He says there are 5
different industries where youth with little or no work experience can often
find work

1. Hospitality

      – hotel worker, restaurant worker, tour


      guide, casino worker, exhibition work, CNE or PNE, Calgary



2. Office

      – administrative assistant, law office


      gopher, receptionist, clerk, mailroom

3. General labour


      construction worker, warehouse worker, gardener/landscaper, parks and



4. Retail

      – grocery clerk, sales associate,


      cashier, stock person,

5. Recreation

      – swimming pools, camp


    counsellor, special event worker (Pepsi challenge), babysitter

Makra says the second step is to assess the skills you have and what you can
offer the job market. Get to know yourself. Honestly identify your strengths,
skills, weaknesses, hobbies, what you like to do and what you dislike doing,
environments you prefer like an office versus the outdoors. Ask yourself what
motivates you to get up every day, aside from your mother; what kind of
magazines do you read and what topics of films and books do you like.

Now you will need a social insurance card, a resume and references. To apply
for a SIN number go to For resume and
reference tips check out this Workopolis site.

If you have to use an application form, ask for two copies, one to write out
for practice, in pencil, and one as the final application, in pen. The trickiest
question on an application form is the salary. Print OPEN.

If you can’t find a summer job consider volunteering in an area of your
interest and skill level. You might even look for an internship which could lead
to paid work.

One of the biggest down falls of job applicants if applying to jobs that you
think, “I could do this job.” If you haven’t done it and you don’t have the
education or the training then chances are there are a plethora of candidates
who can actually do the job because they have done it before. Now, that being
said, if you can network your way into an interview for this job you may be able
to land it based on that philosophy by selling yourself in the interview.

Whether you look at: golf courses, retail, law firms, the government,
consumer goods, the YM and YWCA, camps, water parks, provincial and national
parks, hospitality, health care facilities or your local pizzeria when you go to
apply, look your best and bring your personality and enthusiasm with you. The
references you receive from your summer jobs will be the only references you
have until you graduate into full time employment, make yourself proud.

Service Canada’s 2011 Job Guide.

Colleen Clarke

Career Specialist and Corporate Trainer

Author of Networking: How to Build
Relationships That Count and How to Get a Job and Keep It