For the hundreds of students who call Peterborough home, the daunting task of searching for a summer job often feels like an uphill battle. However, students losing hope shouldn’t give up because when armed with a little bit of creativity, knowledge of local resources, and a lot of effort, it becomes possible to win this battle and successfully gain a job.
What’s impressive about Peterborough is the large number of resources that exist to help students living in the city. Websites such as Employment Planning and Counselling and Peterborough Careers list a broad range of positions, many of which are temporary student jobs.
Yet with so many students living in the city, sometimes it takes more than just this knowledge to land an interview. Over the course of my own job search, I discovered that social media is a great tool for connecting locally and receiving leads on jobs. I sent out over ten tweets in which I tagged locals who specialize in the area I was looking for work (Communications), and I couldn’t be happier with the number of responses I received. No one had jobs available with their organizations, but many tweeters went out of their way to direct me to others companies and job postings that I may find helpful. Social media also helped me learn that tourism is extremely important to Peterborough and therefore businesses that benefit from tourism are extremely likely to hire seasonal help.
Another way I’ve learned to make local connections is through volunteer opportunities. I think many students (myself included!) expect to see job postings that are an exact match to their interests, skills, and education—oh how rare that is! While some people aren’t picky about summer opportunities, those that are hoping to eventually find work in their field should highly consider volunteering for organizations that interest them.
The beautiful thing about smaller cities like Peterborough is they have a great community feel, and local professionals are often more than happy to help a keen student looking for opportunities to grow. I’ve had many friends tell me that they’ve called and emailed people they would like to work for, and that as long as you demonstrate you’re passionate and carry yourself with courtesy and respect, you can gain some great advice and unpaid experience from these organizations.
Of course the ultimate goal is to gain employment with the organization, and maybe that will come the following summer, upon graduation, or maybe never. But the references, networking skills, and experience that can be gained through volunteering are greatly rewarding.
Occasionally, individuals try all the above strategies and are still stuck. It’s at this point that some students take matters into their own hands and use their education and passions to create their own job. This is what I’ve done for the past three summers. Having received a certificate in music from Humber College, I realized I’d be hard-pressed to find a summer job relative to my field in Peterborough, so I started teaching saxophone and piano lessons. While this has only been a side job for me, I’ve spoken to several other students over the years who rely on their entrepreneurial skills to make all of their summer earnings. Examples range from photography businesses to dance and music lessons.
The key takeaway is that living in a smaller city is not always a bad thing when it comes to the summer job hunt. Being able to get your name out relatively easily and talk to a variety of resources on a regular basis is a unique opportunity that Peterborough students should be proud to say they have.
Beth McClelland is a public relations student and music certificate graduate of Humber College in Toronto. She grew up in Peterborough and enjoys spending summers here with her family. Beth is passionate about innovations in social media, music performance and marketing, and community service opportunities.