Students hard up for jobs
By Devin Ayotte
With student unemployment rates finally coming down from their highest levels in decades, the search for both part-time and summer employment has been frustrating for many.
“It’s become highly specialized,” said Chris Miller, a first-year anthropology student at Mount Royal.
“There are very few, you know… fast-food restaurants or that sort of thing [hiring].”
According to Statistics Canada, the summer of 2009 was the worst year for student employment since 1977, when data collection began. Last summer, 19.7 per cent of students were unemployed, and those who had jobs were logging an average of 23.4 hours per week.
Now, more students are finding jobs, but the unemployment rate for full-time students aged 15-24 in Alberta has nearly doubled in the last 12 months, jumping from 6.2 per cent in December 2008 to 12.1 per cent in December 2009. The problem, suggested Miller, is a lack of entry-level jobs.
“You have to have done a lot of schoolwork in order to get a lot of the jobs that are on the [job] boards right now,” said Miller.
Students searching for summer employment in 2009 experienced similar difficulties.
Second-year public relations student Matt Dujay was able to return to a previous employer last summer but considers himself fortunate compared to his former roommates, both students at the University of Calgary.
“One of them never got a job,” he recalled, “and the other one didn’t get a job until a month and a half into the summer break.”
Patsy Valenzuela, supervisor of career and employment development at Mount Royal Career Services, acknowledged the challenges students face.
“A couple years ago we were getting 30-50 jobs a day,” she said of the MRU job bank. “Today we’re getting 10-15 jobs a day.”
Valenzuela urges students to persevere. “Definitely, there’s a change in the market and we know that,” she said. “However, there are still jobs available.”
Attitude, she suggests, is the most important factor in any job search.
“You want to be proactive, you want to search out opportunities… Book an appointment to talk to [Career Services] and talk to them about strategies that will work for you.”
Students have access to a wide variety of tools at MRU Career Services, including resume and cover letter critiquing services and the online job bank located at mtroyal.ca.
Career Services will also be hosting its annual Career and Recruitment Fair on March 3, bringing over 80 employers to the main building to meet with student job seekers.