First of all, I’d like to congratulate all students on their resilience for finishing their school year on a positive note despite the effects of COVID-19 and the subsequent abrupt changes to their studies.  Now that we are well into the summer, many of you may still be searching for summer employment.  With many layoffs, hiring freezes, and business closures, finding a summer job has probably been especially difficult for you this year.  Traditionally, summer has been the time where many students opt to work to save money for their upcoming school year.  With unemployment rates at an all-time high, you may be feeling stressed or overwhelmed about finding a summer job.

While it may be challenging, there are certain things you can do to make it a less stressful experience. Here are my suggestions for managing your stress while searching for a job this summer:

1. Define your goals

For some students, you may have already had a summer job lined up that was subsequently cancelled due to COVID-19 cuts.  If you’re starting your job search from scratch, I encourage all students to define what your  goals are for summer employment.  Are you saving money for next year’s tuition, or is it simply disposable income for fun summer activities?  Are you anticipating gaining experience in your field, or is this job solely to occupy your time?

Depending on your answers to these questions, you can better refine your search.  When you have a clear idea of what you’re looking for, this can help limit feelings of anxiety and being overwhelmed with multiple job boards, postings and applications.  Keep in mind that if saving money is your end goal, consider working any job you can get your hands on.  Even if you were hoping to gain experience in your field of interest, don’t be too hard on yourself if you can’t secure a job in that field.  Jobs are scarce right now and many of your future employers will be understanding if you weren’t able to gain the right experience during this time in our lives.

2. Use your time wisely

Pandemic or not, job hunting is stressful! Invest time into creating tailored applications for the jobs you apply to, don’t take rejections personally, and remain patient.  While you wait to hear back from potential opportunities, I recommend using your free time to refine or build your skills and, take advantage of alternative opportunities.  Consider enrolling in a course to learn a new hard skill, advance your studies, build your portfolio, or volunteer at a local organization to enhance your soft skills.  Not only will you benefit from acquiring a new skill or experience thus making you more marketable for future opportunities, but you’ll also spend less time  stressing about not having a job, and just as important (and frustrating), you’ll spend less time at home without a purpose.   

3. Plan accordingly

Despite your determination to work this summer, it’s also important to be realistic.  A summer job just may not be in the cards for this year based on our current situation.  Know that you’re not alone and any frustrations you may feel are valid!  While I highly encourage you to exhaust all your resources for finding a summer job, spend some time researching alternative methods of funding for school sooner rather than later.  In doing so, you can prepare a plan B to help limit your financial-related stress in case you need to rely on it this upcoming year.  Most importantly, ensure you are keeping up-to-date with the latest government resources as they become available.  The federal government released Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan which includes a section specifically dedicated to students.  

Job hunting anytime of the year can be stressful and looking for a job this summer is certainly no exception, further compounded by the economic effects of COVID-19.  For additional guidance, take advantage of your Student Assistance Program (SAP) for access to certified counsellors and services that can help you navigate your job search and plan your finances accordingly.  Good luck!