April is here and that means that the winter semester for post secondary students is coming to an end.
And with that, many students are taking on the task of finding a summer job so they can have some sort of income during the summer.
While some students are hopeful, the current job market suggests otherwise.
According to Statistics Canada’s labor force survey, Canada’s unemployment rate has risen to 7.3 per cent for the month of February, and 2,300 jobs were lost the same month.
But, there may be a gleam of light peaking through for students. The country’s youth employment rate rose to 13.3 per cent in February, compared to 13.0 per cent in January.
Nicole Diaz, Ryerson University Psychology student says that those numbers aren’t a shock to her.
“I find that at this time in my life, and in other students life, we don’t realize how expensive life is until you get your bank statements in every month and then begin to freak out,” said Diaz.
“Let’s face it, they could give minimum wage. In one way its great and in one way it’s enabling a bigger corporation to keep doing what they’re doing” – Tracey Bowen, Internship Coordinator and University of Toronto Media Studies Professor
Diaz was balancing school in downtown Toronto and two jobs back home in Vaughan. Eventually all of these responsibilities began to catch up with her and resulted in Diaz quitting one of her jobs in order to complete her school work and catch up on some much needed sleep.
“I was a manager at the job I ended up quitting because they really didn’t understand how difficult it was and I couldn’t fulfill the hours they were giving me to the best of my abilities. I was constantly tired and worrying about what assignments I had due. No one should be under that type of pressure all the time,” said Diaz.
Come summer, Diaz is thinking that she’ll keep the job she has but is probably going to take on an internship, and won’t have the time to take on another job.
The internship is unpaid.
“I’ll sound like a hypocrite in saying that it’s for the experience, but it is. I don’t agree that it should be completely unpaid because most of the qualifications they were asking for I do already have,” said Diaz.
Diaz said there should be some way of compensating students who take on unpaid internships because people should be aware how hard it is to find a job, especially in the field you are interested in.
“…I think unpaid internships are only beneficial when you have a job on the side to support yourself financially. If you don’t it’s just hard to make it work cause you need experience in your field but you need money to support yourself too.” – Esther Henriquez, Media Studies Student
Esther Henriquez, third-year Media Studies student majoring in Journalism at Guelph-Humber said she feels the pressure.
“It doesn’t look like media jobs in Canada are super promising, more than any other career, but I’ve gone into this program knowing that so it is my risk to take,” said Henriquez.
Henriquez said that she’s constantly reminded of how hard it is to find a job in the media industry because it is extremely competitive. The fact that print media is dying, does not help.
“There are pros like the Toronto Star Touch App that was released last year that created a lot of new cool job opportunities. But, then if you look at how Flow (the radio station) just fired a lot of their people and completely rebranded. It shows you how disposable positions in media are and how it’s more about who you know,” said Henriquez.
“Let’s face it, they could give minimum wage. In one way its great and in one way it’s enabling a bigger corporation to keep doing what they’re doing.”- Tracey Bowen, Internship Coordinator and University of Toronto Media Studies Professor
This is where she said internships could be beneficial, but only when you are in school.
“An internship at CBC for example, nine to five for a whole summer is a lot of work, but that kind of name to put on your resume is a plus on its own. That’s my take on it but any internship outside of school. I honestly think it should be paid because you’ve gone to school for it and that you just need experience, so you should be paid for your skills,” said Henriquez.
Tracey Bowen, Internship Coordinator and University of Toronto Media Studies Professor says its exciting if you are at a very “sexy” internship where you’re saying, “Wow, I want this on my resume. I want to be there. I want to network with people. It’s a big media company.” If they are asking a student to work four months in the summer, nine to five everyday, that is a lot of time and it’s unpaid. They cannot play the “credit” card.
“Let’s face it, they could give minimum wage. In one way its great and in one way it’s enabling a bigger corporation to keep doing what they’re doing,” said Bowen.
Making a decision between working for money or taking an unpaid internship for experience is a choice many students face this time of year.
Diaz suggests that its important to keep on top of job postings, and the growth and decreases in your field.
“It is scary. I’m not going to lie. It’s scary to check the job standings in the field your studying for and seeing there’s not much opportunity. In those situations, I say to remain optimistic and work even harder in getting where you want to be,” said Diaz.