Making the most of my sum­mer

Cana­dian gov­ern­ment can im­prove, ex­pand ben­e­fits of pro­gram by in­creas­ing el­i­gi­bil­ity

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - OPINION - BY JOSH LOPEZ Josh Lopez is a Busi­ness Com­mu­ni­ca­tions stu­dent at Brock Univer­sity cur­rently work­ing in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment at Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada as part of the fed­eral Canada Sum­mer Jobs pro­gram.

Over the last seven weeks, I have felt my daily rou­tine take on a new pur­pose: I wake up ev­ery morn­ing ex­cited to head to my sum­mer job.

I’m one of the lucky ones. For thou­sands of youth across Canada, find­ing a sum­mer job is a stress­ful and wor­ry­ing time.

Find­ing em­ploy­ment is not easy. Most en­try-level po­si­tions re­quire at least one year of ex­pe­ri­ence. As stu­dents head to­wards grad­u­a­tion with lit­tle to no work ex­pe­ri­ence, they worry about how they will start a ca­reer in their field of study.

The gov­ern­ment has started to help. Thanks to Canada Sum­mer Jobs, a pro­gram funded by Em­ploy­ment and So­cial De­vel­op­ment Canada, thou­sands of stu­dents like me will ob­tain valu­able work ex­pe­ri­ence and con­trib­ute to or­ga­ni­za­tions and busi­nesses across a va­ri­ety of sec­tors.

This year, I was for­tu­nate to be of­fered a po­si­tion in the com­mu­ni­ca­tions depart­ment at Boys and Girls Clubs of Canada. The non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion fo­cuses on im­prov­ing the lives of chil­dren and youth. Whether that is through phys­i­cal ac­tiv­ity, pro­vid­ing meals and snacks to kids be­fore and af­ter school, or launch­ing na­tional ini­tia­tives that pro­mote ed­u­ca­tion, men­tal health, lead­er­ship, and more, Boys and Girls Clubs help 200,000 young peo­ple a year at nearly 700 lo­ca­tions from coast to coast.

A non­profit is a unique en­vi­ron­ment. I have worked along­side peo­ple with a di­ver­sity of ca­reer back­grounds and skill sets that have led them to this in­dus­try. I have also taken on many dif­fer­ent tasks and gained valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence by con­tribut­ing to the in­ner work­ings of the com­mu­ni­ca­tions and mar­ket­ing depart­ment.

I have done brand­ing au­dits of corporate part­ners, an­a­lyzed the mar­ket­ing ef­forts of the 96 Clubs lo­cated across the na­tion, com­pleted re­search re­ports, and writ­ten con­tent for sec­tions of the na­tional website and so­cial me­dia, among other things. This type of hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence has en­hanced my past skills, as well as taught me new ones, all with the end goal of making me more em­ploy­able.

When it comes to cre­at­ing jobs for stu­dents, Canada Sum­mer Jobs is making a dif­fer­ence. Last year, 65,874 jobs were cre­ated through the pro­gram, and this year over 40,000 busi­nesses and non­prof­its have re­ceived fund­ing.

There is still work to be done. One way I be­lieve the Cana­dian gov­ern­ment can im­prove and ex­pand the ben­e­fits of the pro­gram is by making re­cent grad­u­ates, youth who are not in school, and youth who are in school part-time, el­i­gi­ble to par­tic­i­pate. When the min­i­mum of past ex­pe­ri­ence can score an interview or even a job, help­ing young peo­ple en­ter the work force more ex­pe­ri­enced and more em­ploy­able is crit­i­cal.

Thou­sands of or­ga­ni­za­tions are granted fund­ing each sum­mer through this pro­gram. Stu­dents can look on­line to see who has ob­tained fund­ing and ap­ply for mul­ti­ple po­si­tions. Work ex­pe­ri­ence of any type can make all the dif­fer­ence.

Making money while gain­ing work ex­pe­ri­ence? It’s win-win. Cana­dian stu­dents should take ad­van­tage of the Canada Sum­mer Jobs pro­gram to kick­start their ca­reers, build ex­pe­ri­ence, and con­trib­ute to their fu­ture.

STE­VIE SHIP­MAN PHOTO

JOSH LOPEZ

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