FIONA TUNG/THE VARSITY

The Work Study Program at U of T offers students paid on-campus jobs that are meant to strengthen knowledge and skills by giving students the opportunity to apply classroom learning to a real-life setting.

Further, work-study positions can count toward your Co-Curricular Record (CCR), which is an official document that keeps track of your extracurricular involvement at U of T and can be an excellent addition to your résumé.

However, the question remains: are work-study positions worth your time and energy? As a student who currently partakes in the program, I would firmly say “yes.” However, here are some pros and cons that I would advise everyone to consider before committing yourself to a position.

Pro: The unique experience

Doing a work study opens the doors to a plethora of opportunities. I decided to take a position as an intern at the Multi-Faith Centre since I thought a job that related to culture and religion would pair well with my studies in international relations.

So far, I’ve learned so much about the services and support that the centre offers and had the opportunity to see the administrative side of organizing faith-related events. Furthermore, I’ve been able to network with members of religious groups on campus, with many of whom I share similar interests and goals. This has opened the doors for collaboration between my colleagues at the centre and other faith organizations to set up inter-faith events and workshops.

Con: Having a bad supervisor who gives you menial tasks

The purpose of the Work Study Program is to allow students to explore how their academic studies can be applied to a career path and enrich their university experience. Unfortunately, your work study experience can vary greatly depending on what kind of supervisor you have.

A good supervisor will give you a varied set of responsibilities that make use of your skills and help you reach your learning goals. However, a bad supervisor would constantly give you ‘grunt work,’ like answering emails and doing paperwork, or, even worse, giving you nothing to do. Although these duties are an integral part of administration, they should not take up all your time since they don’t help you much in reaching your learning goals.

Pro: Getting some extra cash

A work-study position is an excellent way to fill up your CCR and get references while also making some extra cash on the side. As university students, most of our time is taken up by our studies, which allow us little time to get involved in extracurriculars. Additionally, we are usually short on cash. A work-study job bundles together both the benefits from part-time work and from extracurriculars.   

In my opinion, my work-study job is better than the alternative — which for a lower-year undergraduate student would likely mean a minimum wage job at a fast-food restaurant — since it is a university-affiliated job that deals with my genuine interests. The $15 an hour payment is also above the Ontario minimum wage of $14.

Con: Having a cap on how many hours you can work

For most work-study positions, students are only allowed to work a maximum of 15 hours a week, for a total maximum of 200 hours for the fall and winter semesters. Often times, 15 hours of work is not required since there are not enough duties to fill that time.

Thus, if you’re only looking to make money by working a job with high shift-availability, a work-study position may not be suited for you because you are limited in how much you can work. However, most students who apply to the Work Study Program do so for the experience and value that it brings to their CCR. The money is just a bonus.

And… the final verdict:

There are several aspects to consider before committing yourself to a work-study job, however, the benefits outweigh the downsides. You have to apply and see for yourself whether you’ll like the experience or not.

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