The idea of having a job in university has become a bit controversial lately. On one hand, students who have part-time jobs are able to “buy” their freedom. These students don’t have to rely on their parents for spending money or stress when student loan money is running out. On the other hand, students that have part-time jobs could easily become overwhelmed if they don’t balance work and school properly.
Students that have part-time jobs are more well-rounded, more independent, and more able to adapt to the stressful world after university. Plus, part-time jobs look great on CVs. Most career counsellors at universities recommend that full-time students work no more than 10-15 hours per week. With minimum wage at its current level, 10 hours of work will be about $90 per week after deductions. $90 can buy a lot of beer.
The key to successfully holding a part-time job while in university is to find the perfect employer. You will have two options—you can either find a flexible employer off-campus that doesn’t mind the crazy schedule of a university student, or find a job on-campus.
On-Campus vs. Off-Campus
On-campus jobs are found online if you qualify for work-study (unsure if you qualify? Click the link to find out!), via Listservs (Aus Snax in Leacock was looking for cashiers last week), through postings around campus, or through word of mouth.
Off-campus jobs are found just about everywhere. Students should not be picky—print out a few CVs with your availabilities, and distribute them everywhere you see a sign in the window (big hiring places are grocery stores, retail stores, fast-food restaurants, and sit-down restaurants).
On-campus jobs are great for students who aren’t bilingual, or who are international and can’t legally work off-campus. However, some departments might stop students from working more than 10-15 hours per week, which, if you need extra money one week, might become a problem.
Off-campus jobs might pay more if you have experience, or can offer a better combination of hours (for example, the McGill bookstore is only open Monday-Friday, but Chapters/Indigo is open seven days a week). Off-campus employers can sometimes be harsh with students and inflexible. It’s important to remember that there are strong pro-employee laws in Québec and if you feel that an employer is abusing you, you should consider stopping by McGill’s Legal Information Clinic.
But My Schedule is Too Packed for a Job
Some students (engineering and science for example) have incredibly packed schedules and might have trouble keeping up with their schoolwork and working part-time. For these students, I would recommend either taking a reduced course load, or taking a summer job. Summer jobs can be great since students will be able to focus on their schoolwork during the school year and still have some spending money. The downfall of only working during the summer is that students have to be very diligent about saving money to be sure that they will have enough to sustain them throughout the school year.
Why are we running an article about student jobs right before exams? The reason is simple—after exams comes Christmas, the absolute busiest shopping season of the year. In downtown Montreal, shops won’t even care if you are bilingual or not. As long as you are on time and can count money, you can get a job in the retail sector like that *snaps fingers.*