Summer students, get your resumes updated and ready

By Merna Emara
Staff Writer
memara@fortfrances.com

The end of the academic year is fast approaching, and students will soon be looking for summer jobs to help with tuition and pay their bills.

Major student employers in the Rainy River District have already begun considering summer student positions, beginning with the Rainy River District School Board (RRDSB).

Emily Martin, a Human Resources assistant manager at RRDSB, said they have coordinators who determine the exact positions that need to be filled by students. Although the exact positions have not been advertised, Martin said they will be hiring for the maintenance department.

“That student position is focused on helping maintain the schools. They paint in the summertime so that the schools are fresh come September and they help with cutting the grass at the different schools,” Martin said. “We have more specific positions as well, such as an Information Technology student in our IT department.”

They would then advertise for the job positions, and being a school board, they have access to students who could benefit from the employment.

Although Martin has only been with the board for two years, she said they have always hired students in the summer, even during COVID-19.

Martin said the school board is an educational institution that supports the academic and wellness of students and to prepare them for a career in the future, adding that hiring students fits right in alignment with what the whole organization is trying to do.

“It is an opportunity to help prepare students, as well as it’s good for the organization, helps us get the jobs that we need done and provides opportunities to support those students going forward as well,” Martin said.

West Fraser is also on a student hiring spree, having advertised for eight mill labourers, one store assistant and one engineer/technologist.

Christine Ruppenstein, Human Resources manager at West Fraser, said in an emailed response to the Times that since the amalgamation of Norbord and West Fraser in February 2021, the general manager decided to start hiring summer students.

Prior to that, Ruppenstein said students have not been hired at the Barwick mill for many years, adding that it is because the new general manager believes in the importance of hiring students that they began advertising for summer vacancies.

“Summer time is obviously a busy time for vacation and students will provide additional support during this time,” Ruppenstein said. “It will also give local students some really great work experience in an industrial setting. Students may not go into the same line of work post-graduation, but the skills they learn here can be taken to any profession and will definitely give them exposure to a unique work environment.”

Ruppenstein added that students will have the opportunity to work in a highly safety-sensitive workplace, will be part of a team and have a variety of tasks. Initially, cleaning will be the main focus, Ruppenstein said, however, as training and competencies increase, so can the variety of tasks.

“We are looking for students who have the ability to perform physical labor, to work at heights, to work outside, and ability to work in challenging conditions including extreme heat, noise, and dust; overall, we are looking for a positive attitude, ability to work safely, mechanical aptitude, and willingness to learn,” she said.

Students will get exposure to what a tradesperson will do and what an operator will do in a shift and get an understanding of the manufacturing process from the delivery of the raw material to the finishing, packaging, and transportation of the end product, she said.

When hiring, both Martin and Ruppenstein are looking for hardworking students who will take initiative.

Martin said previous volunteer and work experience helps the department reach out to references and see whether the student applicant will be up to the job.

“But if they don’t, doesn’t necessarily mean they wouldn’t be offered a position if they can articulate and prove to us that they’re capable of the job, then, we would still pursue that. It’s certainly an asset if they have previous experience,” Martin said. “They do have to be attending school in the fall to follow.”

Martin also stressed that summer positions show a form of experience on a resume, adding that it shows a student is hardworking and conscientious.

“Every piece of experience people learn from different positions and jobs will help you forward with your post-secondary as well,” she added. “You see how an organization works and understand the coworker dynamics and reporting to a supervisor.”

The Town of Fort Frances has also sent out invitations to former summer student staff to provide them with an opportunity to express their interest in returning for summer employment, town HR manager Alyssha Hansma said in an email.

She said the town is excited to provide this opportunity and will be posting remaining vacancies in early March.