For those in the education stream, it’s no secret that this is a tough job market to break into – it can take years to find full-time employment.
Gaining experience in your field early on is an excellent way to narrow down what you actually want to do and become more marketable to employers.
Heather, who just finished a year of teachers college at Nipissing University, got a summer job a few years ago as a Camp Counselor at the YMCA. The following year she returned as an Inclusion Counsellor, working with kids who have developmental issues. Both of these positions taught her the importance of being able to think on your feet and adapt to changing situations – a vital lesson for every aspiring teacher!
Working two summers in a camp setting helped her achieve her current position: Site Supervisor for the JK/SK Before and After School Program at an elementary school. Although the schedule isn’t ideal – she works Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. and again from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. – the classroom experience is definitely worth it.
“I’m learning more about different age groups, because my teaching degree focused on grades 4-10,” Heather says. “It’s been great opening myself up to new experiences and grade levels.”
She says she initially searched for camp jobs to beef up her resume, but she “continued to work for them because it is just so much more fun than sitting in an office all summer.”
Clark Rumble has a similar story.
Still immersed in the Concurrent Education program at Wilfrid Laurier University, Clark saw an ad in the local newspaper for a summer job as a Camp Counselor at a camp for youth with developmental issues.
To land this position, there was an oral and a written interview component. The oral component was very situation-based, analyzing how he would respond to certain issues that could arise in this type of work. The written component required him to plan a day trip and create an activity schedule. After succeeding in both, he was given the position, which he later returned to for two additional summers.
Clark says learning how to interact with each camper was the biggest challenge he faced while working at the camp. “They all have different developmental delays, which means they all have to be approached in a different way,” Clark says. “It allowed me to work with individuals who learn in different ways than I had ever been exposed to previously.” This definitely leads to stronger teaching abilities.
It can be challenging to land a summer job in Ontario this year, but Clark offered the following advice: volunteer. During this job and while doing placements at school, he’s seen firsthand how many volunteers are able to bridge into jobs simply because they now know someone. “Volunteering with various organizations is a great way to become familiarized with the work and it also opens up a variety of connections for when people start looking for jobs,” he says.