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A student is going up the stairs from Wreck Beach
February 22, 2019
5 mins read

What to do over the summer

Remember when summer meant the beginning of long, lazy days filled with sand, sunscreen, and the nostalgic jingle of the neighbourhood ice cream truck?

Fast forward a decade or so later and the approach of summer for us uni students can be an overwhelming time for decision-making—and learning how to adult.

As someone who has felt a lot of pressure to be ‘productive’ over the summer, this time inevitably prompts these questions: Do I work full-time or focus on a research project? Or do I take summer classes? It seems like everyone else has a job or an internship lined up—is it too late for me?

But I’ve learned over the years not to stress. It’s impossible to map your life out to the minute, and honestly, everyone has these kinds of anxieties about the future.

Girl on a hike

The summer is the perfect time to explore your curiosities. Most importantly, it’s a time for you to go at your own pace. Whether it be an internship abroad, a part-time job, taking a course, or finding time to unwind, take this summer to discover opportunities that fit with your skill set, passions, and time commitment.

Congress 2019 

Hosted by the Federation for Humanities and Social Sciences, Congress 2019 is Canada’s largest gathering of scholars. Volunteer at this campus-wide conference which brings together academics to share findings, refine ideas, and build partnerships that will help shape the Canada of tomorrow!

Why apply?

Congress 2019 is looking for 900 volunteers for a variety of positions including Welcome Team, AV Support, and Social Media Gurus. Benefits include networking with over 10,000+ academics from across Canada, receiving reference letters (upon request), winning prizes for participation, getting free access to event programming, and conference swag!

Who can apply

All UBC students 18 years or older before June 1, 2019.

Time commitment

After registration, you’ll receive an email in April where you can choose as many 4 hour shifts as you’d like. Whether you want to complete the minimum 8 hours or volunteer for the whole week, these positions offer a lot of flexibility!

When to apply

Registration is open now until spots are filled so apply early to get your preferred position and times!

Register now

Summer courses

Select courses run throughout the summer at an accelerated pace. Summer Session consists of 2 terms so you can choose to do one or both depending on what class(es) you choose.

Why enrol?

Reduce your winter term workload and give yourself a chance to focus on fewer courses at a time. If you’re on the fence about taking summer courses, check out this blog post for a list of pros and cons!

Time commitment

Summer Session Term 1 runs from May 6 - June 28 and Term 2 runs from July 2 - August 17. Class times and dates vary per course.

When to register

Summer 2019 course registration opens in March depending on your student status. You’ll receive an email 2 weeks before your registration, so start checking your inbox today (if you haven’t already!). Make sure to register ASAP as spots fill up quickly.

Go to course schedule

Work Learn Program

This program offers part-time work placements on campus for students to support your learning and professional development. Roles are diverse and have included positions like Aboriginal Admissions Research Assistant, Oral Microbiology Project Assistant, or UBC Farm Marketing and Education Assistant.

Why apply?

Develop your professional skills and expand your network while contributing to your personal learning and to the UBC community. These part-time positions are a great way to explore a field you’re interested in without taking the full plunge.

Who can apply

All students with a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN).

Time commitment

  • The summer session runs from May 1 - August 31
  • You can work a maximum of 20 hours a week or 300 hours total

When to apply

Work Learn Summer 2019 positions will be posted from March 5 - 18 on CareersOnline.

Find out more


CareersOnline is an online job and volunteer position database for UBC students and alumni. With 800+ postings (as of this published date) to choose from, there’s a part-time, full-time, internship, or paid opportunity for everyone.

Why apply?

With a diversity of positions from retail to public health, there’s a job or volunteer role to develop your skill set and boost your resume!

Time commitment

Will vary by position.

When to apply

Jobs and internships are available year-round! (But I’d apply soon for summer postings.)

Browse jobs

Undergraduate research positions

Thinking of a career in research? The NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards and Work Learn International Undergraduate Research Awards (WLIURA) subsidize professors to hire students to work on their research projects.

Why apply?

In this paid position, you’ll work with a professor to apply your classroom learning in an academic environment. Plus, you’ll gain valuable work and research experience.

Who can apply

NSERC Undergraduate Student Research Awards

  • All undergraduate students with a Canadian citizenship or permanent Canadian residency

  • Students who’ve completed a year (or 2 academic terms) of their bachelor’s degree

  • Review full list of eligibility requirements here

Work Learn International Undergraduate Research Awards

*Not sure of your enrolment status? Contact an International Student Advisor.

Time commitment

  • May 1 - August 31
  • Minimum 16 weeks of full-time work

When to apply

Applications are now open! Contact your faculty/school coordinator to be connected with an eligible professor. The deadlines will vary according to the faculty or school.

Learn more about NSERC

Learn more about WLIURA

Research abroad

Feeling a little cabin-feverish? Gain international research experience through a Structured Research Abroad program or conduct a Self-directed Research Abroad program.

Why apply?

Expand your learning beyond UBC and build your professional skills in an international context. Global learning opportunities not only offer personal development but help your work experience stand out for future employers and grad schools. Plus, students will be eligible for additional funding and awards for most positions.

Who can apply

Faculty and language requirements will vary by program—opportunities are available for both undergraduate and graduate students.

Time commitment

Dates will vary by program—most summer programs will range from 4 - 11 weeks.

When to apply

Deadlines to apply vary by program. Some programs are closing soon, so if you’re interested, don’t delay!

Apply now

Federal Student Work Experience Program

The government of Canada runs this program to offer full-time students work experience in the federal public service.

Why apply?

Develop employability skills and gain insight into a career as a federal public servant. There are a wide variety of jobs across Canada in fields like administration, IT, enforcement, communications, and more.

Who can apply

Full-time students returning to full-time studies in the next academic year.

Time commitment

Part-time and full-time positions available for the summer and fall.

When to apply

Job postings are updated every day. Check out their job search page for more details.

Find out more

Do what refreshes you

There’s value in every experience—and oftentimes it’s the unconventional ones that lead to the most personal growth.

Maybe it’ll be a summer class in a topic (or city!) you’ve always been interested in but never explored. Maybe it’ll be dipping your toes into an area of research you’ve always been curious about. Explore your curiosities for the sake of discovery—you never know what shape your learning can take.


You also have the entire summer to road trip across the country, learn how to longboard, volunteer at your local animal shelter, start a vegetable garden, or finally get around to reading that growing pile of New Yorker magazines.