Summer job hunt outlook brighter

Zoey Duncan

Since graduating from high school two years ago, Kailey Curtis has inundated local businesses with applications, hoping to find secure employment so she can save for school in the fall and pay off her mortgage.
But even when she does find a job, diminishing hours and unreliable schedules means she can’t afford to stay in some positions for very long.
Right now, she’s holding down three jobs here in town.
“I do not even get a 40-hour week between three jobs,” Curtis noted.
“I don’t even know what kind of income I’m going to be getting,” she added.
The 19-year-old said she’s constantly frustrated by employers who promise full-time hours when she begins work but then don’t, or can’t, follow through.
In addition to sending out résumés herself, Curtis has tried to use the job services provided by the Northern Community Development Services (NCDS) here, to no avail.
“I’ve been there [numerous] times and I have yet to get a job through there,” she noted.
Those aged 15-30 are eligible for the Summer Jobs Program through NCDS only if they are returning to school (the age was upped to 30 from 24 in 2009 in response to large numbers of people upgrading their education in the recession).
Since Curtis took time off from school, she didn’t qualify for a number of the jobs that were posted for students.
The Summer Jobs Service, offered by the Ontario Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities, provides wage subsidies of $2 per hour to employers who hire summer students.
Last year, 162 students benefited from the program locally. Those students either already were employed in their positions, were hired directly, or went through NCDS.
The employment outlook for students is a little better than past years said Tyson Grinsell, the Summer Jobs Service co-ordinator for NCDS.
“Things are looking up,” he remarked. “Each year seems to be improving a little bit more and there are more jobs available.”
Grinsell encouraged job applicants to be open-minded about summer opportunities.
“There are lots of high school students who don’t understand right off the bat they’re not going to get their ideal job,” he remarked.
“You’ve got to start on the bottom and work your way up.
“Students that come in here open-minded and are willing to do work anywhere, they’re usually the ones that find the jobs and that employers like to hire,” he added.
Currently there are 15-20 jobs specifically for students on the NCDS job board, noted Grinsell, plus a few on the general job board that may work for students.
He also said employers who target high school students are likely to post job opportunities in June when those students are out of school.
Grinsell conceded jobs in town are highly competitive.
“There are at least 10 or 15 people applying for every job, and they’re only going to hire one person, so there is competition,” he said.
Some of the most popular jobs for students are those with the Town of Fort Frances, including parks, public works, and recreation jobs.
“It’s very difficult for the students to find summer jobs, and especially a summer job that you can go back to year after year and that pays a decent wage and has good hours, as well,” noted Christine Ruppenstein, the town’s human resources manager.
Most of the more than 20 summer students positions with the town have been filled, but Ruppenstein had advice for those looking to set themselves apart from the dozens of applicants she receives.
“Follow the instructions carefully on the job ad,” she stressed. “Make sure you’re clear, outline all your volunteer experience, extra-curricular activities.
“We look for any health and safety background, as well. Any experience or training, that kind of thing, from a health and safety perspective,” Ruppenstein added.
While volunteer work and extra-curricular are long-term ways to round out your résumé, NCDS has training programs for those looking to upgrade their skills.
It provides first-aid training workshops, as well as the “Smart Serve” training for those who expect to serve alcohol as part of their summer job.
Résumé and cover letter help, along with interview skills workshops, also are available from NCDS.
Curtis, meanwhile, continues to look for full-time employment.
“I’m always looking for other jobs,” she noted. “I [had] an interview on Friday, so I’ve got my fingers crossed.
“Good thing I’m an outgoing person.”