By Rachel Braeuer
Learn, and grow rich from opportunities on campus
Student orientation is probably one of the least useful things I’ve ever signed up for on campus. The only useful thing I took away from the experience was the clip-folio. I could have found my classes or figured out there was more than one bus loop by myself. You’ll quickly learn, as the rest of us inevitably have, that your current plans for funding yourself will never be enough.
Scholarships and bursaries sound terrifying. To be fair, having to depend on competitive sources of income is terrifying, but they’re more plentiful than you’d think. There’s a main list of scholarships on Student Information Central, but that only represents a very small portion of all the scholarships available to students. Your department will have its own list of relevant scholarships and bursaries available to your faculty specifically. All you need to apply for a scholarship or bursary is your relevant financial information. As daunting as it all may seem, think of it this way: if you spend eight hours two days in a row applying, those sixteen hours could potentially pay off with thousands of dollars. That’s more than you’ll make in two days at any part time job.
Ok, so maybe a scholarship or bursary isn’t for you. Or maybe you just didn’t manage to get one. I haven’t since first year; it’s why I have a job. Actually, it’s why I have four jobs, but I digress. Finding a solid part time job is harder than it seems. The further you get into your degree, the more relevant volunteer work becomes. SFU’s Career Centre (which isn’t your high school career centre with a haggard old teacher pining away for retirement, loaded with cliches and pamphlets instead of analytically sound advice) will tell you this. They can help you get a resume together that you won’t want to burn when you stumble upon it in the future, and you can sign up for workshops with leaders in the industries and sectors you’re hoping to find a job in. If all you can find is volunteer work, take it and run. If you do quality work for free, eventually someone will see your value and pay you to do that work. Your volunteer liaison is more likely to find you a position than some big box company’s pimply team lead, anyway.
All of this self-starter, work-for-free business might seem daunting. Fear not, for the best is yet to come. The truth is there are a lot of real jobs on campus — jobs that pay well over minimum wage — people just don’t know about them. But they would if they checked their e-mail. Departmental forwards are obnoxious and plentiful. They get passed around so much the first 30 lines look like every good-luck-if-you-send-this-to-seven-people forwards your aunt is famous for. Scroll past that and you’re likely to find a student group or research cohort that needs people and understands a student schedule means fairly limited availability that changes three times a year with potentially no summer commitment.
Look, we can’t all pass the bar stool test, and even if we could we’re still no match for all of the fledgling actor/servers who are always available and better able to fake their way through lecherous drunk perverts and high maintenance assholes who counted six grains of rock salt on their flatbread when they clearly specified multiples of eight only. You can do better.