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Summer jobs help students and their hometowns

Municipalities helping local grads meet rising school expenses
David Moorhead bends down to remove a pylon from his next job site at the Mountain View cemetery. He’s one of four university summer students hired by the City of Trail

By Tessa Clayton

Times Staff

Being a university student these days isn’t easy. To say the least, it’s expensive and challenging.

While junior and senior high school students greet their summer vacations with glee, intent on soaking up the sun and more often than not lazing the days away, university students are busy trying to find jobs to support their upcoming school year.

David Moorhead, a Trail native, first year history student at Langara College and one of the city’s summer students, says it’s very important for him to have a summer  job.

Even though he gets some support from his parents while in Vancouver, he pays for the rest of his education and other costs associated with it. The money saved up over the summer will go towards his upcoming academic year, he said.

“It can be tough to find a summer job, especially when you’re away going to school and you eventually come home — if you want to and most people do — and then you have to go on the job hunt right when you get back to make sure you have a job for the summer months,” he explained.

The local municipalities realize this, and try to hire local students to help out each summer.

Most of this funding comes from their budget, but some is funded through other grants.

Kevin Chartres, village administrator in Montrose, said in an email that their council feels local students may feel a sense of pride in their community, which could also show through their work.

Trail and Rossland both hired four students this summer and Montrose has one.

The students will be working within the public works departments and in Rossland, one student will be helping with local water conservation in homes.

The partnership between local governments and students is beneficial to both parties.

“For students it’s a huge opportunity to see how jobs in the public sector and municipalities work,” said Tracey Butler, corporate officer for the City of Rossland.

“And we get quality kids. They’re amazing, they do awesome work — they’re conscientious, the community gets quality, bang for their buck and some mighty fine workers. We’ve never had a student where we’ve gone ‘oh man, what a lazy kid.’ Never.”

Educational opportunities are abundant with city jobs, added Larry Abenante, manager of public works for the City of Trail.

“Number one, it gives them an opportunity to work in an environment like ours — not to say that’s the field they are going to school for but it shows them some responsibility, a lot of safety aspects of doing this kind of work,” he said.

“Understanding municipal governance, understanding what it takes to run a city and understanding why taxpayers ask the questions they do and why we do what we do.”

Butler added that working for local governments also helps give students an upper hand when it comes to applying for other jobs, like at Cominco, who generally look for third or fourth year summer students.

“I would definitely recommend it to other students, it’s something you should at least put your name in for because whether you get it or not … it’s a very good job and keeps you engaged every day,” said Moorhead.

“It’s a well-paying job which will give you some of those funds for education next year.”

Deadlines for city positions vary in each municipality, but requirements are similar. Students must have proof of enrollment in post-secondary education and a valid drivers license.

Officials said the interview process is key to their final selection of summer students and that they look at things like community involvement, knowledge, past employment history and related experience.