Finding a Part-Time Job 101 // Getting the Interview

This blog is part one of the Finding A Part-Time Job Series. For future parts to this series, click here. 

Let’s be honest – living, studying and working in Toronto ain’t cheap. In fact, according to this website, Toronto is the number one most expensive city to live in Canada!

But there’s a reason we all tighten our purse strings and make the sacrifice: Toronto is (in my humble opinion) the New York City of Canada. Perhaps even greater. As the hub of communications technology, business moguls, entertainment districts and so much more, Torontonians open their hearts and their wallets to reside in this beautiful city.

If you already have a career in Toronto, you’re set! But for a student, it isn’t always easy to scrape up the extra dough to live and eat, much less enjoy any of the diverse dining or entertainment options in the city.

Finding a part-time job can be difficult. With so many other students to compete with, you may find yourself wondering: “What sets me apart? Will I ever find a part-time job in the city? Will I be broke forever?”

Well, young reader, fear not the impending doom of adulthood, because I’m here today to give you my personal guide to finding a part-time job!

You may be thinking… is this student writer qualified to be giving me professional advice?

Well… I’m being paid to write this blog, so I think it’s safe to assume that I know my way around.

But seriously – from fast food service to working at the University, my money-making-journey started at a young age. If you’re like me, and you weren’t blessed with a trust fund, it’s about time you tighten those bootstraps and find some WORK!

Tip #1: Start Small

So, you want to become a store manager at Saks Fifth Avenue? Hold your horses– and lower your expectations just a teeeeeeny bit. By all means, I encourage you to shoot for the stars, but setting realistic goals is the first step to success. This means starting at the lowest level: a sales associate at a clothing company, a cashier at a fast food restaurant, a busboy at a diner; these types of jobs are not only easier to secure with very little work experience, but they also are the most readily available.

My first paid job experience was working at McDonalds. No, it wasn’t glamorous, but it did help me purchase my first car! The hours are long and difficult, but the experience (and the pay cheques) you get out of them is worth it.

Don’t worry, you’ll be working up the ranks in no time!

Tip #2: Keep Your Eyes Peeled

There is one advantage to working in the city… companies are ALWAYS looking to hire. Some even say it right on their front door! It’s a good idea to be on the lookout for storefronts with signs that say ‘Now Hiring’ or ‘Help Wanted.’ If a company is in need of employees (and FAST), they won’t be as selective with their hiring. These are some of the best opportunities to get your foot in the door in no time at all.

GOOD TO KNOW: for university students, this includes on-campus opportunities. Faculties and departments are often looking to hire students for part-time work! Even some faculty-student society jobs are paid positions. Always stay up-to-date on the social media accounts for the faculties you’re interested in, and you’ll be more likely to see job-postings right when they’re released.

Tip #3: No Harm in Asking

When I started looking for jobs, one thing really made a difference: asking staff if the company was hiring!

Now I’m not suggesting that you just walk into an establishment, lay your fist down on the table and demand a job. Please don’t do that.

Here’s an example. I was absolutely dying to work at the Starbucks in my neighbourhood, so I started working from the inside. I would regularly talk to the baristas, put on my friendliest attitude, and make sure they remembered my face. I was a regular customer… so this tactic wasn’t hard to accomplish. I started to observe the regular baristas, which ones identified themselves as supervisors, managers, and the like.

As soon as I found out who the manager was, I stepped into action. I made my regular order, started a little conversation, and casually slid in the fact that I had applied online to be a Starbucks barista (GOOD TO KNOW: Most stores now require you to apply online before applying in store! Keep an eye out for this.) She asked me if I had applied to her location, and I said yes. Before I knew it, I had an interview. Not long after, I was hired!

The Starbucks story was a bit of a process because hopeful baristas can be on the hiring waitlist for months and I needed to expedite the process – but I really recommend just asking an employee if their manager is around the next time you go into a store. Remind them of how much you love their brand, and that you would love to work for them. Kill ’em with kindness.

Tip #4: Search Online

This one may seem like a no-brainer, but you would be surprised how many job opportunities are available online that you wouldn’t hear about otherwise! One of my favourite websites for job searching is Indeed. On Indeed, you can view job postings anywhere in Canada, with pay rates, job descriptions, contact numbers and more. You can even upload your resume to automatically apply to jobs! What’s more – Indeed is updated every single day. If you’re not interested in standard food service or retail jobs, there are tons of positions for specific niches.

GOOD TO KNOW: Don’t believe the rumours about hiring managers avoiding youth – companies love to hire students. They know we’re desperate for work, willing to take long hours and random shifts, and we are easy to train. Not to mention, if you’re in a specific program and have marketable skills, you’re in an even better position to get hired in a field you’re truly interested in while you’re in school!

Even simpler than Indeed: try just typing in keyword searches. I was helping my roommate look for a job in the Eaton Centre recently, and when I typed in “Eaton Centre job listings,” at least 15 search results came up. Sometimes companies will post job listings on specific hiring websites for their brand which aren’t easily accessible to the general public (unless you know where to look!)

Tip #5: Work From Within

Here’s something most people don’t consider when job hunting: You already have the connections you need to succeed.

Think about all of the adults in your life with steady jobs. Maybe your mom works at a dentist’s office, your dad is a higher-up at Shoppers Drug Mart, your uncle works at a restaurant nearby, your aunt manages a Sephora… forget nepotism, USE THE CONNECTIONS YOU HAVE! All it takes is a recommendation to a hiring manager to get you an interview, and what, with all the experience you got from tip #1 as a McDonald’s employee – you are now the perfect fit! No hassle, just a good word from the inside.

It doesn’t have to be limited to family, either. Has your best friend been working at Yogenfruz for three years? Their manager trusts them to suggest good employees. Not to mention, your friend will know when hiring starts because it’s an internal operation.

Trust me, working your way in isn’t as hard as it seems! Flash a smile, bat your eyelashes and remind your connections how much they care about you.

Tip #6: Work For Free

Ok, this is a bonus tip for people who are looking for specific jobs. For example, if you’re absolutely dying to be a staff writer, or an investor, or an assistant for someone you admire. If you can afford to do it, biting the bullet and working as an unpaid intern may be some of the best job experience you will ever have. Not only does it make you an asset to the company as someone who isn’t on payroll or with billable hours, but it also helps you gain credibility and references. At the end of your internship, you’ll have great volunteer experience, stellar references, and if they liked what you did when you worked for them – you might even have a paid job on the inside.


You’ve made it to the end of the first step in finding your part-time job! Now go out, look for those interviews, and stay tuned for part 2 where I explain how to nail your resume and interview skills.

Good luck!




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