School Is Hard Enough… But To Study AND Work In Canada?

The decision to find a job while in school is something that should not be taken lightly. Students who take on the added responsibility of having a part-time job, usually do so for financial reasons. It could be that you want to earn extra pocket money for nights out or use it for tuition or living expenses. Whatever the reason, it is invariably a huge time commitment; from finding a job and balancing assignments to studying and keeping an employer happy.

To work and study in Canada may involve some challenges, but the experience gained as well as the skills that can be developed are great reasons to consider getting a part-time job while studying beyond just the financial reasons.

Currently, 49% of Canadian-born and 32% of International students are working part-time jobs while attending school. This is a significant proportion. The lower number of immigrant students having jobs may be due to the fact that many people who decide to study abroad come from wealthier families and may not need to work while in school.   Language may also be an issue if they are coming to study English in Canada.  Finally, the lower statistic can also be attributed to the fact that they many not be entirely aware of working laws in Canada.

Here are a few tips and things you need to know when looking for a job in Canada as an International student:

  • As an International student with only a student visa, your choices are somewhat limited.  Campus jobs are the most likely option. Usually, there are a wide variety of jobs available, such as working at the campus bookstore, facilities, on-campus food services, security, student services positions, athletic center, and of course academic or residence related positions. However, many campus jobs are reserved for students who are in need of financial assistance. They often receive priority over all others. If you are not a student in need of financial aid, it might be difficult to find a job on campus.
  • Depending on the size of the university, the number of jobs offered can be limited which makes finding a job that much harder. Nevertheless, as an international student, you do have other off-campus options as well.
  • If you are a full-time International student attending a public university, you are eligible to work off-campus when you apply for a work permit. When you apply for a work permit, you will also need to sign an off-campus agreement with the government of the province or territory in which you are attending school. Obtaining a work-permit is also possible if you are attending one of the many private institutions available in Canada, but there are additional requirements that must be met. Only students at certain private institutions are eligible for work permits and those institutions must be located in one of the provinces or territories that have a memorandum of understanding with Citizenship and Immigration Canada. Prince Edward Island, Nunavut and the Northwestern territories have not signed the agreement. However, even if you are attending a private institution located in the other ten provinces or territories, you may not be eligible for a permit based on what program you are in. To make sure that your program qualifies, you should contact your institution.
  • Upon receiving your permit, you will be allowed to work 20 hours a week during your academic period and full-time during school breaks. However, having a work permit is dependent on whether you can maintain a satisfactory academic standing and remain a full-time student. If these conditions are not met, you will be required to return the permit.

After getting your work permit, your options are considerably expanded.   However, the challenge lies in securing a job.  The unemployment rate all across the country is higher in this economy and students and young adults are often the hardest hit demographic. In 2009, the unemployment rate for people between the ages of 20-24 was 13.6%. This is hard to overcome, especially when coming from a new country. However, the skills needed to find a job are the usually same for International and Canadian students alike.

When looking for a job, always know what you are looking for and begin the search early. There will be a lot of other students who may have more experience coveting the same positions as you, so getting a head start is always an advantage. Also, look for jobs through your network of friends, contacts, academic services department, student services department, and basically any potential online and offline resource. Networking is very useful because it may give you the inside track for positions that you may not have known about otherwise. You should check your career centre which provide valuable resources such as resume review and interview tips which are always needed. Finally, keep trying! If you don’t find a job right away, keep trying because there are always new opportunities available.

While there may seem as if there are many steps and requirements that International students must complete before beginning the job process, to work and study in Canada is not as difficult as you may imagine. Gaining valuable work experience as well as earning some extra cash is a great way to add value to your degree or diploma.

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