a, Student Life

The ultimate guide to finding a summer job: McGill edition

For many students, the task of just updating their resume can be daunting. Here’s some tips, based on advice from friends, CaPS, and an interview with Ron Ben-Joseph, motvational speaker, communication champion and creative rabble rouser.


Start now:

It’s too late for you to start early, but it’s not too late to start at all! Some organizations will stop taking applications in January, but positions are constantly opening up, and some have yet to even be posted. Start looking now, before you miss another opportunity.


Know what you want:

The first thing you should do is figure out what you hope to get out of the summer. Do you want experience, money, or both? Even if you don’t know what you want to do with your life, or after graduation, you probably have some idea of what you want to do in the next two months.

“Create the opportunities for what you want to do next,” advises Ben-Joseph.


Finding a job:

Luckily, McGill has a number of resources to set students on the path to securing a job for the summer.

Listservs, albeit long and irrelevant on occasion, can be a fantastic resource for you. They advertise jobs, internships, and research opportunities in your area of study that you may not have heard of otherwise. Make sure to follow up with anything that interests you in a timely manner, because there are many other students who will be inquiring, as well.

CaPS (Career and Planning Services) is a gold mine. You can stop by during drop-in hours, book an advising appointment and find an extensive list of other services. MyFuture is a tool that can help you search for jobs and apply directly online. The CaPS website contains links to job postings, and if you’re seeking an internship, check out the workshop handout “Where to Find Internships.”



Ben-Joseph explained the importance of networking in this way: in the original Star Wars movie, when Leia uploads a message to R2-D2 saying “Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope”—that’s networking. If you don’t understand the reference, suffice it to say that finding a job is often more about who you know than what you know. Making use of LinkedIn means you can network from your couch. Professors are conducting research constantly, and always need assistants. They can connect you to experts in the field, or a relevant organization.  On campus, wine and cheese events and academic conferences are great places to connect with people and get free food.



The purpose of a CV is to identify what makes you a good candidate; it is not just a list of your experiences. When stating past experiences, your CV should showcase desirable skills that are transferable to other jobs. Tailor your CV to they type of job you want. CaPS offers drop in hours where an advisor will provide feedback on your CV. Hours are posted online, and they ask that you bring a hard copy of your CV.



During an interview, employers judge your personality and skills and determine if you’ll fit well with their team. Ben-Joseph suggests framing your past experience in a way that indicates, “everything in your history, you’ve done to help this company out.” To do this effectively, research the industry, employer, and position in advance. Ask a friend, or see an advisor to help you prepare with a mock interview.


Have confidence:

Don’t let the fear of failure or picking the wrong jobs get in the way of applying. Who wouldn’t want to hire you? As back up, apply for a couple positions in case the one you want doesn’t work out. Even if you don’t end up with your dream job, any new experience is more than you already have. Who knows, maybe you’ll discover a new passion.


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