Tales from Humber: What I learned being a student employee

Apr 15, 2023 | OP-ED, Tales From Humber

Getting a first job is a nerve wracking experience for anyone, trying to get a first job in your late teens is even more difficult.

When I applied for my first job I was still 18, which isn’t an insanely old age to start working, but, in comparison to my friends who already worked at one or multiple jobs I felt a little left behind.

According to a Statistics Canada report, the percentage of people between 15 and 30 years old that were employed was 67.3 per cent. Statistically speaking, it wasn’t all that shocking for me to be among the third who are unemployed but I really wanted to have the experience of being an employee somewhere.

I applied for a position to be a Student Ambassador at Humber in April 2022. I remember feeling nervous because while I met the application requirements there was no telling what the manager’s final decision would be.

I ended up getting the job and starting working as a student-employee in May 2022. The training wasn’t all that hard and I ended up meeting people that I now consider my closest friends.

Working as a Student Ambassador taught me a lot about the college and I ended up answering all my friends’ questions by the time registration came around. The job gave me opportunities to work certain events at the school as well.

There was an “Experience Humber” event that invited prospective applicants and future students to visit and learn about the college. I also worked at Open House, Orientation and Convocation.

These were all events that took place over the summer. Looking back, being a Student Ambassador was the ideal summer job. The hours were fairly flexible and the position at the time was hybrid. I would do an on-campus tour once a week, and I worked call centre shifts from the comfort of my own home.

As it got closer to September and I signed a new contract for the new academic year. I worried about whether I would be able to balance school and work since up to that point, I hadn’t had to work while I had classes.

All student ambassadors were able to pick shifts that catered to their class schedule so I never felt like I was spending too much time doing one thing and neglecting the other. I will say that working and doing school will force anyone to develop better time management skills.

I had one day where I would come in a little early, work on assignments, do a campus tour, head to class then come home right after to log on for my call centre shift. Days like that would feel really hectic but it wasn’t overly complicated and in ways it taught me how to utilize every ounce of my time.

My decision to leave the job came during the Winter 2023 semester. In late October we began working under new management which took some getting used to. Things felt good for the most part but sometimes it felt a little frustrating.

I remember me and my coworkers would often have conversations where we felt there wasn’t efficient communication between us and management, which also lead to scheduling conflicts here and there.

Around the time that I left, there were two other employees that decided to resign as well and I know of three to four other people that are planning on leaving once the semester is over.

The failure to communicate felt like such a big issue at the time because working call centre was essentially working customer services. It didn’t seem fair in some ways to have poor communication with management when communication was such a big part of the job.

It felt like things were slowly building up and I wasn’t too sure what the end goal was going to look like. The end result for me was parting ways with my first job.

I used to think the first place I worked at would end up being a store in the mall or at a fast food restaurant but it ended up happening at Humber.

I’m very lucky to say that I’m on good terms with my old managers and I keep in contact with all my old coworkers. Parting ways was a hard decision but it was something that felt right for me.