Summer Job Opportunities for Students

Options to explore

Almost everyone remembers their first summer job — fondly or otherwise. In either case, a great sense of satisfaction usually comes with earning one’s first official paycheque.

Whether it’s working as a camp counsellor, on a construction crew, in retail or the hospitality industry, landing that first summer job with a bone fide employer has long been considered one of life’s milestones.

These days, however, securing a rewarding summer job can be tough — especially for high school students.  For that reason, government-backed, youth employment programs are worth a look.

Student job-seekers should check out two federal programs, in particular.

  • Young Canada Works (YCW) — on offer are summer jobs in the fields of heritage, arts, culture and official languages. This program provides students with opportunities to work with heritage-focused organizations (museums, historic sites, zoos, botanical gardens) and those that conduct activities in both official languages. Students who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or have refugee status in Canada are eligible.
  • Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP) — on offer are full- and part-time jobs with federal government organizations. These positions provide students with an opportunity to explore their interests and develop skills through hands-on work experience. Preference is given to Canadian citizens who meet the position requirements.

Together, FSWEP and YCW offer upwards of 9,000 jobs annually for secondary and post-secondary students in Canada.

Information about the kind of jobs that might be available under these programs, as well as the potential duration of the employment and wages, is outlined below. *

More detailed criteria for each program and requirements for various jobs can be found online. Website links have been provided within this article to help counsellors and students navigate the multi-pronged Government of Canada site.

*Program information is current at time of writing. Program criteria and jobs available do change. Students should review online information for the latest updates.

Young Canada Works (YCW)

Young Canada Works1 offers two summer jobs programs for students — YCW in Heritage Organizations and YCW in Both Official Languages.  Both provide opportunities to gain work skills and experience.

YCW does not hire students directly but provides funding to third-party organizations that deliver the program.2

Employers with jobs funded under the YCW program do the hiring. They can search the list of candidates and contact students for an interview. However, students are strongly encouraged to apply directly for any position that interests them.

  • YCW in Heritage Organizations includes jobs in a heritage field — in a museum, archive, library, cultural centre or heritage site, for example. Work could involve artifact preservation, conservation, research, interpretation, event organization or promotion of Canada’s cultural heritage.3
  • YCW in Both Official Languages offers job opportunities with organizations that conduct activities in both English and French. Students can gain practical work experience while improving their second language skills.4

YCW – Key points to consider

  1. Secondary students who are Canadian citizens, permanent residents or have refugee status in Canada are eligible to apply.
  2. Some jobs are open to high school students, some to both high school and post-secondary students, while others are tagged for post-secondary students only.
  3. Applicants must be at least 16 years of age.
  4. Applicants must have been a full-time student in the semester preceding the YWC work assignment and intend to return to full-time studies in the semester following the job assignment.
  5. Positions last from six to 16 weeks.
  6. Students must work 30 to 40 hours per week. Students with a disability are eligible for part-time work.
  7. Pay rates are set by the employers.
  8. Students can apply to work in a location that is different from where they live.
  9. There is no deadline to register in the program, but students are encouraged to do so well before the summer.5
  10. Using their YCW account, students can browse job opportunities using the “Search for a job” link and apply directly to positions that interest them.

Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)

The Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)6 is the primary vehicle that federal organizations use to recruit and hire students. There is a wide variety of jobs offered to full-time students across Canada on an on-going basis.

The opportunities involve working alongside public servants to provide service to Canadians. Workplaces include offices and laboratories, ships and farms, historical sites and national parks in more than 300 communities across Canada.

Of the 48,120 students who applied in 2015, just over 7,000 were hired.

FSWEP – Key points to consider

  1. Some jobs are open to high school students, some to both high school and post-secondary students, while others are tagged for post-secondary students only.
  2. Preference is given to Canadian citizens who meet the job requirements.
  3. All applicants must be returning to full-time studies in their next academic term.
  4. Students are not required to have previous work experience, but must meet the program’s eligibility criteria and the specific qualifications required for each job.
  5. The language requirements for the jobs vary. Some designate English or French as essential, while others require a bilingual (English-French) employee.
  6. The hourly pay rates for high school students established by the Treasury Board start at $10.34, but wages can vary.7
  7. All job applications must be submitted online. It will take at least 30 minutes — more likely an hour — for most students to create a FSWEP profile and submit a comprehensive application.
  8. Students should complete the skills page since this information is a key factor used to match applicants with FSWEP job opportunities.8

By: Laurie Nealin