When it comes to finding a good job this summer, Jordana Heney isn't very optimistic.
The illustration student at Sheridan College in Oakville, Ont., has applied for 37 positions, including an internship at a design firm, but so far has found only part-time, minimum-wage work at her local Tim Hortons, plus a few hours a week at a secondhand-clothing store.
Ms. Heney says she expects to earn about $4,400 this summer, which will not even cover her tuition, never mind her living expenses and student loans. She plans to continue searching for something better and, in the meantime, will try offering her art for sale online.
"Post secondary is frighteningly more expensive than I ever thought it would be, but I can't stop now," she says. "I've been waiting my whole life for this opportunity."
Graham Donald, founder and president of Brainstorm Consulting, helps employers and post-secondary institutions recruit and retain students and graduates. He predicts "it will be a tough summer, followed by a good resurgence of student hiring through the fall and spring."
Mr. Donald offers these tips for students still trying to find a summer job:
1. Job hunting is a job in itself. Persistence and planning are essential in the job search process. Treat the job hunt like a class and dedicate several hours to it each week. Develop a plan of action for your individualized, independent job search.
2. Stay upbeat and project your confidence (but not arrogance). Job searching can be discouraging, but it's important to stay optimistic and display your energy with every contact you meet.
3. Network, network, network! The vast majority of people find their jobs through friends, family and other contacts in their personal networks. Incorporate your job search into small talk at student meetings, sports, Facebook and other social media sites, family gatherings and everywhere you can. Networking creates opportunities.
4. Get on LinkedIn. Students are quickly discovering that LinkedIn is the place to make professional connections online. But make no mistake: This is a professional environment, not a social one like Facebook. You'll find plenty of details on the site specifically written to help you make the most of the site.
5. Consider non-profit and charitable organizations. Non-profits and charities usually don't pay as well, but they can offer a great opportunity to gain experience and take on new responsibilities. Many have members or large groups of volunteers who will be great additions to your network.
6. Become a leader in your extracurricular activities. When others vying for the same job have a similar education and work experiences, your extracurricular activities may make the difference. Go for quality rather than quantity; employers will be more impressed if you have significant leadership roles in two or three organizations rather than a long list of memberships.
7. Interview practise makes perfect. Get friends or family to test you with difficult questions (you can find lots of samples online). If you can't do a dress rehearsal with family, you will find it much harder in real life. Interview practise will also prepare you for any other interactions with employers or members of your network.
8. Use your college or university career services office. Virtually every campus has one and these offices have tremendous expertise available.
9. Be meticulous about your resume - not only the content but also the formatting and grammar. Be especially careful when you make changes to customize it for specific opportunities and with your cover letter and e-mail messages as well. Nobody will ever hire you if you don't spell the employer's name correctly!
10. Appearances are always important - clean yours up online, too! You probably know the importance of making a great first impression. The same rules apply to your online appearance. Assume that employers will Google you. Make sure that what they find will be flattering; increase your privacy settings to ensure they won't see things you don't want them to.