The best thing some students can hope for in their part-time jobs is that their bosses won’t harass them during their next shift.
STU alumni Ashley Fugere experienced this when she was forced to quit her job at a retail store due to her boss’ harassment.
“I was supposed to be on cash, but I ended up stocking shelves,” said Fugere. “The manager was a creep… he made very sexual comments sometimes towards me.”
Trish Murray-Zelmer, employment and financial aid coordinator at St. Thomas University said, most of the bad jobs she has seen concern employees being harassed.
Murray-Zelmer said that often situations like these are mishandled by managers, forcing students to quit their jobs.
She said that some of the comments made by her former boss made her skin crawl, though she tried to ignore them.
“He would make quirky little comments like ‘oh would you put your body against me?’ He would just say things your single, lonely, drunk uncle would say at Christmas parties and would make you want to leave,” said Fugere.
She said the environment made her employment difficult at the store, but the job gave her a lesson about who she is.
“I’m one of the people who needs to actually go out and do something and learn from experience,” said Fugere.
She said even though this forced her to quit her job, she now has a job she values and in a place where she is appreciated. She works with animals at the Fredericton SPCA and plans to pursue a career working with them.
Murray-Zelmer said students are in a weird position where they depend on these jobs and this makes their search for a reliable one more difficult.
“It’s not like they can just say ‘no thanks’, they say ‘well okay I need this job to pay my rent next month,” said Murray-Zelmer.
Stephanie Comeau, a second-year STU student, works at McDonalds. She said working there can be stressful and draining.
“Working in a high pressure environment can put a lot of stress on me to perform well at work, and it exhausts me for when I come home,” said Comeau.
Comeau’s managers sometimes make her feel like she’s obliged to work and it makes her personal and academic life very difficult.
Not all of Comeau’s working experience is bad though. She worked as an office assistant for The Association of Paramedics and loved the work.
“I got to help people on a daily basis, which is something I really want to do in life,” said Comeau.
Students have many available options to them but some require minority status or high qualifications. However, Murrary-Zelmer said they are worth exploring.
“Preparing your resume is key to achieving a better job,” said Murray-Zelmer. “Focus on the transferrable skills that are going to get you your next job, that’s one of my favourite parts of my job, is telling people you do have skills, you’re awesome.”
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