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All about getting my first job in Canada

By: Isioma Uwadiunor
January 23, 2023

As a high school student who wanted to study abroad, being able to work as a student and find a good job after graduation was one of the crucial factors for me when deciding the country and city that I would study in. I learned from my research that there are numerous job opportunities for students in Canada during the summer, academic year, and after graduation. 

 In my first year, I decided not to work because I wanted to assess my academic workload before adding a part-time job to my calendar. I started looking for a part-time job as my first year was coming to an end. I asked my friends in upper years where and how they got their jobs, and they walked me through all the steps required to get one. Since most of the people I reached out to for help with my job search did not work on campus, I leaned toward finding a job off-campus. 

Three students walking on TMU campus.

 As you may have heard, TMU is located right in the middle of the city, and just a short distance from our campus, next to our business school, is a shopping mall. The majority of the people I contacted are in fact employed by the mall in roles like cashiers, brand ambassadors, sales representatives, and other roles in various stores. Prior to starting my job search, I compiled the necessary paperwork needed to get a job. 

To be eligible to work in Canada, I had to go to Service Canada (external link)  to get my Social Insurance Number (SIN), but before doing so, I made sure that my study permit allowed me to work part-time while still a student. 

Since I didn't have a resume before moving to Canada, I created one after receiving my SIN. I made sure to mention all the internship and volunteer experiences I’d had, and I also wrote a cover letter as they are usually required in job applications. At first, I had no idea how to format my documents – and you might feel that way right now too, but thanks to websites like Indeed (external link)  and on-campus services like the TMU Career and Co-op Centre, you can feel more prepared to find work. The TMU Career and Co-op Centre is your place to go to if you’re looking for assistance with your job search, including writing your resume and cover letter. 

I was applying for jobs at the mall during the COVID-19 outbreak, which made the job application process entirely online. I had to search for jobs at the mall on popular websites used here like Indeed (external link)  and  Jobs beBee (external link) . Glassdoor (external link)  is another popular website to look for jobs and learn about employee experiences and recommendations. 

I applied for the majority of the jobs online, and I would hear back from store managers about setting up interviews after 2 to 3 weeks of submitting my application. We mutually agreed on a date and time, and I attended the interviews. Here’s what I prepared for when I got called in for a job interview: 

  • I researched the stores and potential interview questions before going. 
  • In case the hiring managers asked for it, I always made sure to bring a hard copy of my resume, study permit, and some form of identification to every interview. 

The response time after an interview varies, but I would usually hear back a week or two after the interview on whether I was a successful applicant.  

 Soon after I started submitting applications for positions in the mall, I started hearing about how working on campus could be quite beneficial in terms of relevant field experience and consideration for exams, assignments and school work. After asking a few questions about it, I was referred to the Career Boost website, where I could view all of the positions for international students that were available on campus, the hours I would be expected to work, the responsibilities, and the requirements to apply. 

A student is opening the Career Planning brochure.

I started to shift my focus to on-campus jobs because I was really interested in some of the positions and I could see how they could give me more experience relating to my field of study, even before I decided to start my Co-op, which would be really good for my resume. From the Career Boost website, I saw all the documents needed for an International student to get an on-campus job and all the deadlines to apply for each position.

I submitted applications to a number of positions that I was interested in, and shortly after, I received an email from some managers asking to set up an interview. I was really happy with this development and I decided to give up on off-campus jobs. Since it was my first online interview, I was a little anxious, but I kept my composure and tried not to show that I was nervous. I was anxious for a variety of reasons, including the fact that there were only one or two positions available for some of the postings for which I had interviews because I was a January intake student and the positions are often scarcer for January students. Two weeks later, I received another email, saying that I got the job. I was super excited and could not wait to start working the next semester because this would be my first official job ever. I really wanted to work because I wanted to gain as much experience as possible, make use of the resources available to me on campus, make new friends and also prepare myself for future jobs.

One really great thing about the Career and Co-op centre (opens in new window)  is that they still help students who have graduated in the last five years to find a job, update their resumes and cover letters, and provide them with career advice. Since they are no longer students, they will need to apply for a work permit to be eligible to work full-time in Canada, the International Student Support is always there to guide them through the process.

 If you are new to TMU and you are worried about getting a job, just relax, try to use all the job search resources we have available, meet with advisors, follow the requirements and you will be fine. Do not miss out on any opportunities you feel will be of value to you or help your resume stand out because there are always opportunities in a university like TMU.

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