My advice as a student with a part-time job in Montréal

Montréal offers so many great opportunities to have fun and learn new things. With endless restaurants and activities to choose from, discovering new tastes and hobbies is easy. The downside? It’s just as easy to burn through your savings here, even if you live simply and on a budget!

One of the benefits of studying in Canada is that there’s a strong focus on personal work, so you don’t have to spend too many hours in the classroom. That makes it easier for international students like me to take on a part-time job to support their studies, and maybe even save a little money. Of course, my first piece of advice before moving here is to save as much as you can. Any big move, even if it’s only for a short time, inevitably costs money.

If you want to work as a student in Montréal, you have to be enrolled in a full-time program. So when you register as an international student, make sure you think about whether you’ll need to take on a job to support yourself. Another important thing to note is that you won’t be able to work until your first school session has started.

Preparing for your job search

Before you can apply for a job, you’ll need a SIN (a 9-digit social insurance number). Without it, you won’t be able to work or access any government programs you may be eligible for. You’ll need to go to a Service Canada Centre to get one (there are several offices in Montréal). As long as you have your study permit and your passport, it’s a quick and easy process.

Before you start your job search, make sure your CV is Canada-ready. Here in Canada, you don’t need to include a passport in your CV, or personal information like your marital status or date of birth.

The Montréal selection process for job candidates is stricter than in France, so be sure to include any extra-curricular activities like volunteer work on your CV. In Montréal, personal skills and experience are valued just as much as an academic diploma.

With that in mind, my CV includes the following sections:

  • My skills: computer/program proficiency, languages (spoken and written)
  • My professional experience
  • My academic background (both of my diplomas, training and online courses)
  • My personal interests and character traits

Feel free to switch up the order of the sections depending on what your potential employer is looking for. If you have experience working as a part-time salesperson while you studied, you can place the professional section before the academic section if you’re looking for a job in sales, to prioritize your work experience. But I recommend that you always put the skills section first.

Because CVs in Canada can be up to three pages long, don’t be shy to elaborate on your experience. So if you’re applying for a sales job, you can include specific tasks and experience such as customer service, inventory, department management, store management, etc.

Finding a job

Once you’ve done all the prep work, it’s time to move on to actually looking for a job!

There are several ways to approach this. If you’re looking for a specific job, start by researching potential organizations in your field.

I wasn’t looking for a specific job in my field of study. My priority was finding a job with reasonable pay (minimum wage here is $12.50 an hour) that would allow me to work part-time. If you’re looking for something similar, student jobs, shops and restaurants are a great place to start. But it’s still worth researching other fields to broaden your search.

The best advice I can give you is to:

  • Look out for online job postings on sites like Kijiji, Jobillico, Indeed and Restojobs
  • Check social networks (I found my sales job on a Facebook ad)
  • Keep an eye out in store windows (stores often posts signs up to say they’re looking for staff)
  • Apply for the job in person with your CV and cover letter (the most efficient way to find a job if you’re pressed for time).

In order to find a job, I strongly recommend that you get a Canadian phone number. A lot of students are looking for jobs, and a Canadian number will make it easier for potential employers to reach you.

Organize your student and professional life

I can tell you from personal experience and from speaking to other students who have more classes than me, organization is key to managing your time! At UQAM and other universities, there’s a lot of group work involved and a lot of Quebecers have to work to pay for their education, so being organized is all the more important here. Studying is a real investment in Montréal and it’s important to do the best you can.

As a full-time French student, you can only work 20 hours a week off-campus. It’s definitely possible to study, work and enjoy the city. But you’ll need to manage your time so you don’t get overwhelmed during term time.

The first time I lived in Montréal, I was an exchange student and chose not to work. I was lucky enough to have some savings and my family supported me financially by covering my rent and groceries. Now, my second time around, even though my family is still helping me out with living costs, I had less savings so I decided to work. But beyond the financial aspect, working gives me an opportunity to integrate into Montréal society. If you plan on staying in Montréal once you’ve finished your studies, Montréal employers will value local experience and appreciate your efforts to integrate into the community. On top of that, work experience will give you an insight into what working here is like, which is always rewarding if you plan on staying in Canada for a while.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Montréal International.