Working sans Work Study

The beautiful list of jobs available to those that qualify for Work Study is a prized possession. Postings are varied, though some jobs are more popular than others, so there is an adequate selection of employment opportunities on campus. However, the seemingly abundant pool of jobs is nowhere near enough to satisfy the pool of Work Study students and applicants. And what about those that do not qualify for Work Study? I myself have tried to apply twice in my time at McGill, outlining extenuating circumstances with no success.

I started at McGill less than two years ago in Fall 2016 as a U0 student. I was fairly inexperienced upon arriving at university; my work history consisted of part-time work at a fast food chain and sales associate duties at a thrift store. However, I frequently attended the CV and cover letter workshops offered by my faculty’s career centre (MESC in FDA for any engineering folks), as well as CaPS workshops. I learned how to market the skills I gained through student organizations and my own hobbies, including blogging. In high school, I monetized my Tumblr blogs to generate income through Google’s AdSense platform.

Around November of my first year, I began ploughing through MyFuture listings to find a job. Most of the opportunities indicated that “Work Study is preferred”, but that didn’t deter me from applying anyways. It’s important to sell your skills and let employers know how a job can benefit both of you. For example, I would always state that I was bilingual and that my class schedule allowed me to work frequently during the school day. I was lucky enough to find a job with Student Housing & Hospitality Services.

I also spoke with my first-year professors and visited them during office hours to continue building a relationship. This year (my U1 year), I became a TEAM mentor for several freshman classes (such as Math 133/140/141, Chem 110/120, etc.), a stipend-based opportunity where older students help freshmen during FrezCa. Basically, I visit the RVC cafeteria twice a week and help students with exam preparation, labs, and online homework questions. This job doesn’t favour work study whatsoever and the hours are also very flexible. The entire experience is rewarding because you are able to help incoming students with the same struggles you faced during your first year.

SSMU also hires employees in the winter semester for a range of jobs, including coat check for Gerts to general secretaries. Various faculties also hire students for on-campus jobs; for example, Engineering hires students to run services like Frostbite, EPTS, CopiEUS, and more. Look out in your faculty and departmental listservs for opportunities. I found a posting for answering phone inquiries related to Science admissions for the summer just by glancing at a friend’s listserv. If you attend class regularly and have great notes, OSD will pay you for notetaking during the semester. Of course, lots of students sell their notes privately on Facebook too.

Currently, I work at Campus Life & Engagement as an intern for the planning of next year’s Orientation Week activities. I found this position through word-of-mouth, to be honest. Since I had been previously hired as an AskMcGill assistant in August and September, CL&E reached out to me via e-mail about the opening of a new position. I would recommend checking the CL&E website frequently for postings because they are a great resource for helping you find more opportunities once you land your first job with them.

There are also new and upcoming self-employment strategies you can try. Some students are selling home-cooked meals, others are becoming tutors via apps or becoming rideshare drivers. Be creative – there are more jobs out there than you think!


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