The Career and Volunteer Services department at Kwantlen Polytechnic University is reaching out to students to help them find meaningful, paid work during and after their time in university.
As part of their effort to help students find work both on and off campus, the career centre has been sending out regular newsletters that include job postings for available positions. Some of the other services offered through the career centre include interview preparation, job search skills training, resume preparation, and portfolio building.
KPU’s Senior Director of Student Affairs, Joshua Mitchell, encourages students to check out the Career Services section of the KPU website to see which workshops are coming up. They can also make an appointment with a career or volunteer coordinator.
“Given our role as a teaching and a learning organization, we really are focused … [on] how we can make their work as meaningful as possible,” says Mitchell.
He adds that one of the recent focuses of Career and Volunteer Services is engaging students in career planning earlier during their first years in university. To that end, the department has been putting effort into making students more aware of the services that are available.
“We know that students are anxious about what life following graduation might mean for them very early on in their academic career with us,” says Mitchell. “There are a lot of opportunities to work with [students] over four or five years to help relieve some of that anxiety, and help them connect their educational experience with the direction and purpose that they’re headed towards.”
Many of the opportunities found by Career and Volunteer Services are on-campus placements. These postings can be with various academic departments, student organisations like the Kwantlen Student Association or Kwantlen Public Interest Research Group, or on-campus services like the Grassroots Cafe. Career Services itself employs several dozen students.
Mitchell explains that it’s up to the job posters to add their openings to the Career and Volunteer Services catalogue. As a result, they will not be able to promote all of the positions available on campus, and details about payment and work hours will vary significantly from post-to-post.
Still, he believes that there are a few inherent benefits to working on campus. For one, on-campus employers are committed to working with a student’s academic schedule. Proximity between the workplace and the classroom is also convenient, but the biggest benefit, according to Mitchell, is that many placements allow students to integrate work experience with academic experience.
A sizable portion of on-campus work opportunities are in work studies. These university-subsidized placements are reserved for students with financial need and student loans. Some open work studies placements recently advertised by the career centre include a “communications & events” position at the newly opened Wilson School of Design, an assistant at the Langley campus brewing lab, and a student assistant for the interior design program.
“For students in financial need, they very often won’t have the same opportunity to participate on campus as some other students,” says Mitchell. “[Work studies] is a way of ensuring that they have the opportunity to stay on campus and enjoy the benefits of campus life, ensuring that they have the same kind of undergraduate experience as a student who may not have that need.”
Mitchell says that the Career and Volunteer Services department has been increasing the number of work study placements over the past couple of years. Now, there are about 45 positions that are made available.
The centre also runs a job posting portal called Career Connection, which about 1,800 active employers use. The Career Connection portal is open to both current students and alumni and requires a student number and password to use.
The career centre’s biggest event of the year takes place in March. Career Day, held on the Surrey and Richmond campuses, hosts dozens of employers giving out information about vacant positions and occasionally recruiting on-site.
“We ask students to bring their resumes and be prepared to explore opportunities that exist right now,” says Mitchell.
The centre also helps get students involved in volunteering. It runs a volunteer expo each September that is very similar to Career Days. Dozens of volunteer organizations and hundreds of students attend, with last year’s event including just over 750 opportunities, according to Mitchell.