Students who dedicate eight months a year to learning, shouldn’t have flipping burgers as their only option for the remaining four months.
The 16 months of summer vacation that accumulate during an undergraduate degree are an opportunity for arts students to use their degrees practically.
But such opportunities are rare and inaccessible.
At Queen’s, for instance, psychology students can work in labs on campus during the school year and there are a number of Undergraduate Student Summer Research Fellowships where students are paired with professors to conduct research.
However, these opportunities are dramatically fewer than the number of worthy candidates, and involve jumping through tall hoops to apply.
My current summer job involves conducting field research at the Bader International Study Center. Though this experience has been rewarding, there are few of its kind, and it required an extensive application process.
My position required a personal statement and a letter of recommendation from a member of faculty. This process could easily have dissuade someone less outgoing, or with less time to devote to the pursuit of a few, competitive academic positions.
Confidence and sociability are by no means requirements for successful research students, yet they currently stand as barriers to the application process.
Of course not every candidate will be well-suited for a position such as mine. However, if Queen’s is confident in the education it offers, it seems strange that so much needs to be done to prove one’s suitability for a research position.
If you’ve chosen to spend years in the pursuit of knowledge, it’s vital that you realize its importance by finding its practical applications.
While Queen’s has offered us all the chance to learn, most of us will have to look elsewhere for relevant employment.
Students’ only option is often to look beyond the limited opportunities provided by the university and seek other institutions for potential positions.
Our local libraries, historic sites, churches and governments are well-suited for the specialized knowledge we’re curating throughout our undergraduate years.
They might not be academic positions, per se, but these jobs are at least more relevant than a job you could have worked in high school.
Kate is The Journal’s Opinions Editor. She’s a fourth-year philosophy major.
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