Academia doesn’t grind to a halt during summer vacation. A work-study is named for its status as both a job and opportunity for students to continue studying. The “working” aspect of a work-study means the student will be paid for their efforts. The “studying” aspects means the student will be paid for their involvement in some aspect of academia; this could be anything out of a range of duties; such as research, writing, editing, and compiling and organizing bibliographies.
I was lucky enough to be employed in a work-study this year at the University of Toronto. During my annual summer job hunt I checked the U of T work-study database. There weren’t any work-studies with the history department (I am a history specialist), but a work-study with the Statistical Sciences Department required graphic design and writing experience, which I had. After an interview on campus, I got the job. This particular work-study was part-time, so I was able to work and still attend summer school.
I worked with a professor in the Department of Statistical Sciences for a little over a month, and learned a great deal about statistical sciences by doing research for her. I also slogged through bibliographies and made graphs, but got the opportunity to learn about a field I otherwise would never have breached.
A summer work-study is convenient for students looking for a job who live near campus, or for those who live far away to find student housing on campus. In addition, if your employment works out, having a professor as your boss makes for an excellent reference for either graduate school or future employment.
Drawing from my experience, do not be afraid to apply for work-studies outside your specialization. Work-studies also exist during the school year, and are a good opportunity to financially benefit from your extra-curriculars. Ask your registrar about work-study opportunities. If you are passionate about a particular subject, ask a professor in that field if they know of any work-study opportunities. Having studied all year, it’s nice to make money doing so.