About 40 people stood in line near an LCBO in downtown Windsor, Ont., last month. They were all waiting for the same thing: A job interview.
Among those in line were some international students who said they were new to Canada.
“It’s very important for me [to have a job], actually, because I have to save some money for my next semester,” said Karandeep Singh, who is in the hospitality program at St. Clair College.
He says he’s put out more than 60 resumes and has also applied to security jobs and jobs as a cook.
Dhruvi Kharadi also waited for a job interview. She says she’s been applying in-person as well as online — but had received just one call back before that day’s interview. She’s studying for a master’s degree in applied computing.
“It is very important [to have a job],” she said. “In my course, half of the students … took a loan and then they came here. Paying their rents and for food, also for the fees, it is very important to get a job otherwise you’re not gonna have enough money to pay the bills.”
It isn’t the first time a similar scene has happened in Windsor.
Last month more than 400 students waited for hours outside the Namaste Indian Supermarket on Walker Road hoping for a shot at one of the seven jobs advertised.
“They started crying and started explaining their financial crisis and what they were facing in Windsor,” owner Parimal Parikh said at the time.
“They started crying when they didn’t know the answers to the questions we were asking. And we tried our best to listen to them and try to comfort them.”
The long lines, the many resumes passed out, the online applications completed: It all points to students having difficulty getting a job. But, there are resources available to help.
Soft skills training, job fairs available for students
Pat Papdeas, the director of academic operations at St. Clair College — under which the college’s career services office is administered — says the school offers domestic and international students support in finding a job.
“I think what might be particular about international students is when they arrive, the orientation that we have has so much information, they may not actually really know what services and supports there are at that early time,” she said.
Papadeas says the support they offer falls under career services, which can help students both as they near graduation, but also as they look for part-time work while in school.
To help combat that new student information overload, Papadeas said they recently held a part-time job fair that was well-attended by students and employers.
Career services, she says, can help students apply to targeted jobs and avoid blanket applying with hundreds of resumes. They also have workshops to help with soft skills, like resume building and interview prep.
“Our career service officers do workshops, soft skill development in entering the workforce at any time,” she said.
Another barrier that is present in the student job hunt, and maybe especially with international students, is how they convey their experience.
“For example, an international student may not be able to convey the type of experience that they have had because the what’s on that resume is not local and not locally known. So, how do we best present to the employer what the experience of that student is?
“There are some commonalities between whether the student is domestic or international and in terms of international students, I think it just takes a little bit longer in terms of developing the types of things to orient them to what it’s like culturally to apply to a job here.”
She says St. Clair has increased its training in those areas and also builds it into the curriculum.
And, she joked, for those that don’t know where career services is, the office is conveniently located right across from a favourite student spot: the on-campus Tim Hortons.
“We’re here to support those students wherever they are on that job seeking journey and we’re prepared to do that again where it’s connected to their career,” she said.
At the University of Windsor, the career services office offers similar resources, with mentorship, job shadowing and resume and cover letter clinics all available. The university also has an in-house employer database that includes job posting, recruitment and employment events.
Chamber advocates for changes to Canada summer jobs program
Rakesh Naidu is the president of the Windsor-Essex Regional Chamber of Commerce.
He says the region is benefiting from the number of international students here — and with the tech industry and manufacturing growing, Windsor now needs to find a way to keep students and talent here.
Naidu pointed to a resolution the chamber recently brought to the Canadian Chamber of Commerce AGM advocating for changes to the immigration system that would, among other things, see potential immigrants to Canada awarded more points in the points-based immigration system if they plan to live in small cities and rural areas like Windsor-Essex.
The chamber is also advocating to make international students eligible for the Canada Summer Jobs program, which awards wage subsidies to employers hiring youth.
“We know there are employers that we’re looking to hire people over summer and they were not able to find enough talent or the talent with the skill set they needed,” Naidu said. “Unfortunately, that leaves students without jobs and employers without talent.
“We talk to international students who are eager to apply for those programs, they’re not able to just because the rules [don’t] allow them to.”
See the original article on the CBC News website.