By: Rory Sullivan
Picture this. You just finished 8 months of university. You now have 4 months of summer to do… what? This is a question many university students are faced with when summer rolls around. Some choose to travel, others choose to take some summer courses. And there are some who want to take the opportunity to gain professional experience in order to add to
their resume. A great way to add credible experience to your resume is through the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)! This program, run by the federal government, is designed to help place university students with positions in their field in order to gain experience (and to make some cash along the way). Read on if you think FSWEP is a program that could work for you!
What is it?
As mentioned above, FSWEP is a student program that places students with positions in their field. Many students use this program to help fill their summers, as many organizations and departments are looking for summer students only. There are options available for longer placements as well. Many employers will look for a year-long part-time student. Students who are placed for the summer will find that their employers are offering them part-time work during the school year as well. A placement working for the Government of Canada is sure to stand out on any resume, especially if you’re someone who sees themselves working in government as a lifelong career.
Ongoing Student Recruitment Inventory: This program is the general one for all students. When applying, this is the one you should choose unless you identify as one of the below categories. In this program, you are able to choose what language you would like to work in and other important information an employer needs.
Indigenous Student Employment Opportunity: If you identify as Indigenous, this is the program you should choose when applying.
Employment Opportunity for Students with Disabilities: If you are someone with a disability, this is the program you should choose when applying.
Note: Applications are open year-round, but those are for part-time and full-time positions. If you’re specifically looking to apply for the summer period, please consult the application timeline below.
January-February: Make sure you open and complete a profile in order to be matched with an employer. A profile will require your school information, languages of preference, a resume, and a cover letter. To ensure you stand out to employers, take the time to perfect your resume, and to write a unique cover letter that covers any relevant experience. Trust me, I hate writing cover letters as much as the next person, but they’re one of the first things employers look at, so make sure you write a good one!
TIP: If you have already completed a year of university by the time you apply to FSWEP, add your GPA to your resume. Employers may not directly ask for it, but it’s always a good thing to add for them to know how serious and committed you are.
TIP: Even if you have never had a paying job before, every previous experience matters. If you use the right wording and persuasive language, you can make any volunteer or extracurricular position look good to employers. It doesn’t matter if your previous experience has no relevance to the FSWEP program as long as you use the right perspective.
Example: “I volunteered at a retirement home for a summer and though it was only a brief time, I found that I truly learned a lot from my time there. Through my volunteer experience, I learned the importance of teamwork; the close-knit team setting that I was a part of allowed me to understand how crucial collaboration is, especially when we are responsible for people’s quality of life. This is a lesson I will take with me in every future opportunity that crosses my path.”
By playing up your volunteering experience, you make an opportunity that you may believe to be irrelevant seem like a major learning experience. Your employer will see that you truly cared about your time there and that it wasn’t just something you had to do for volunteering hours.
March-May: Most summer positions won’t be available for applications until April/May. However, it doesn’t hurt to login to check the job board every couple of weeks to ensure you don’t miss out on any cool opportunities. Turn on job notifications to make sure you don’t miss any potential job! While you can apply for opportunities yourself, employers can also view your profile and reach out to you if they like what they see. If you receive an interview with an employer, you don’t need FSWEP anymore and communication is now between you and the employer.
May-September: Most of the summer positions are for the entire 4 month period that university students have before they have to go back to school. If you receive a position, congrats! Make sure you remain professional and keep a good work ethic - you never know when you may need a reference, and one from the government is sure to impress future employers and post-graduate programs! As mentioned, many employers offer their summer students part-time work during the school year, so the professional relationships you make during your FSWEP summer may last a lot longer than just a summer.
So, that’s basically all the information you need to know about the Federal Student Work Experience Program (FSWEP)! It’s pretty straightforward, but you would be surprised how many students have no idea it exists. This is a great resource for students of all degrees and backgrounds to get some valuable work experience before heading back to school in the Fall. And who knows? This may even turn into a full-year gig if you excel in your placement! Good luck and happy job hunting.
If you have any questions, the link to the FSWEP page is down below. If you need any guidance, feel free to book a mentoring session on the Passionate Minds website! I have also linked the Provincial and Municipal job banks down below as well in case you want to expand your search. The application process is almost identical to FSWEP, so there should be no confusion!
FSWEP Website: Federal Student Work Experience Program
Canada Summer Job Bank: Funding: Canada Summer Jobs – Overview
Ontario Summer Job Bank: Summer jobs for students
Ottawa Summer Job Bank: Summer Employment Recruitment