REGINA -- The COVID-19 pandemic has created a difficult environment for those looking for any kind of job, including students who are struggling to find summer jobs or enter the job market for the first time.

“Summer jobs have essentially dried up, there’s just nothing out there,” said Kevin Fiessel, manager of Career Education at the University of Regina. “We still post jobs, we’re still actively recruiting and trying to do our best and get students engaged but it’s been very very very tough. The environment has changed 180 degrees.”

“The uncertainty of what’s going to happen next has made employers quite wary about hiring.”

Fiessel encourages any student struggling to find summer employment to look into the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and other potential government assistance. The exact details of the CESB are still being finalized by the federal government.

In the meantime, Fiessel advises students use this period to improve their resume building and interview skills through the courses Career Education currently offers remotely.

“Things will get better, and the job market will improve,” Fiessel said. “When they turn around, you have a great resume, you have great interview skills, your portfolio is up to date and you’re ready to go and you’ll be ahead of the curve.”

The impact is being felt in the university’s Co-operative Education and Internships as well.

“[Last year] it was record numbers of people placed, this time around because of the situation we find ourselves, we’ve had over 50 jobs cancelled in the co-op program,” Fiessel said. “We’re looking towards fall right now for co-op and internship.”

Also affected by the pandemic are recent graduates who are looking to enter the job market for the first time.

Ashley Boha, the executive director of the Regina Work Prep Centre gives similar advice for finding a job, especially given a higher unemployment rate.

“Your competition is going to be higher,” Boha said. “So for students who may not have work experience in their field of their education, they’re a little bit farther away from employment in those jobs than someone who might’ve just recently been laid off.”

Boha also encourages students to be open to any sort of work right now and keep an eye out for any opportunity.

“Keep your eyes open,” said Boha. “Keep up with your networks, reach out to the people in your surrounding, do as much networking on social media platforms as you can right now.”

Both are hopeful the job market will start to reemerge as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift in Saskatchewan.