I rented my arm as a makeshift plunger to pay my tuition

With rising tuition costs becoming more and more of a reality, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that money is always on students’ minds. For most students this means finding a part-time job, especially when summer rolls around. That leaves many to seek positions stocking shelves at a local grocery store or making double mocha frappaccchinos with low-fat milk and extra whip.

However, that was not what Vancouver resident and SFU student, Tara Phillips, found on her job hunt.

“All the regular jobs are taken these days. Tim Hortons and McDonald’s aren’t even hiring!”

Phillips has worked such summer jobs as a “directions assistant,” which entailed glorious work like standing in a hallway telling people if they need to go left or right.

“A sign could have done my job, but hey, I was getting paid,” reminisced Phillips. “Hell, last summer I worked as a ‘toilet clearance attendant,’ which involved me using my arm to clear clogged toilets for a plumber who couldn’t afford a plunger.

“It wasn’t great, but at least I have work experience now. Maybe I could work in a grocery store bathroom next summer. Besides, it was better than the alternatives.”

Even more unsettling than Phillips’ employment history are the jobs she chose not to pursue. On Craigslist, she found listings such as “assistant coffee boy apprentice,” and “live store mannequin.” These positions might seem tame compared with “human table” or “ornamental aide,” “both of which listed one of the job’s responsibilities as ‘sweating copiously without producing a strong odour.’”

Many students are forced to make tough employment decisions due to their financial situations, and consequently there are more and more “picture straightening assistants” and “book closing aides” hired every day.

“Students will work any job these days, as long as it pays in cash and not overripe produce,” concluded Phillips, sadly shaking her head.

Phillips and others like her should not feel defeated, though, as studies show students with undergraduate degrees have a 75 percent chance of getting hired as a barista at Starbucks.