COVID-19 has been difficult for the Canadian economy. As of September, Toronto ranks among the highest in the country in terms of unemployment, with a rate of 11.5 per cent according to Statistics Canada. Looking past the common misconception that art students are somehow less employable, how have York’s art students been coping with this new situation, especially those employed by the university itself?
York offers three employment programs under the Work/Study umbrella: general Work/Study, the Leadership, Engagement and Ambassadorship Program (LEAP), and Research at York (RAY). These positions differ in pay, time commitment, and type of work but all provide students “with the opportunity to develop professional skills and contribute to the university through paid, on-campus employment opportunities” according to the York Student Financial Service website.
Both domestic and international students can be eligible for a Work/Study with York, with some of the major requirements being that the student is enrolled in a full-time course load, demonstrates financial need according to their Student Financial Profile, and only holds one Work/Study position at a time. More information about eligibility, jobs available and ways to apply can be found at https://sfs.yorku.ca/work-study-programs.
For Andrea Madore at least, not much in her position has changed. Madore is a fourth-year dance student currently holding a Graphic Design and Multimedia Assistant Work/Study position within her department. Most of her work-related responsibilities are done on the computer, like many other remote jobs. She’s been told that this is a relatively new position, possibly in response to the school year going almost entirely online.
“I am learning how to use different software and programs … it is allowing me to view how it is possible to integrate dance into the bigger picture rather than being in a little niche not many might know about.”
“I am learning how to use different software and programs to send the right message and attract the right audience. Overall, it is allowing me to view how it is possible to integrate dance into the bigger picture rather than being in a little niche not many might know about.”
In addition, Madore says that she has enjoyed the added perk of already knowing who her co-workers were before accepting the position — an advantage that can be quite rare when applying to a company.
Similarly, fourth-year theatre student Braden Henderson finds that his Scenery Shop Work/Study position at York affords him a certain leniency that would be rather difficult to find elsewhere. In this position, Henderson is given the opportunity to learn and develop his skills, instead of being expected to know everything going into new projects.
Henderson feels like he’s in his element in this job, expanding his knowledge on building techniques and shop-maintenance.
“I think it is definitely worth the effort! If you find yourself comfortable and looking to grow in a specific area, the theatre department has plenty of opportunities within different areas of specialization, making it easy to find one that fits best,” Henderson says. “Never be afraid to reach out to faculty and find out what’s available.”
Both Madore and Henderson have voiced that they believe what they’re doing in their Work/Study jobs undoubtedly contributes to their preparation for their future careers, making themselves well-rounded and more employable.
Although it may be a bit of an understatement, 2020 has not been a good year for many, but for those still looking to improve themselves and add to their experience, opportunity certainly exists, even for students within the arts. York is a big place after all, with the second largest campus in Canada.