Atop the stress-out lists for most Canadian university and college students these days are, irrefutably, final exams. A close second however, are their summer job prospects.

Many students are anxiously wondering what they’ll be doing to occupy their time and pad their bank accounts during the summer months. It’s quite the dilemma, particularly for students who spend most of the year away at school and then return to their hometowns for the summer.

“Many students feel pressure in this area,” acknowledges Tracy Rogers, career services co-ordinator for Seneca College in Toronto. “They feel that if they don’t get a summer job quickly, they won’t get one at all. It’s a now-or-never mentality.”

Sometimes, Rogers says, summer job woes affect students’ final exam preparations.

“But I always advise them to focus on studying first because that’s what they worked for all year,” she says.

“Once they’ve completed exams, they can concentrate on summer jobs. Many still will be available.”

Mind you, Rogers and four other Canadian career counselors contacted by Metro agree that, realistically, students should have at least casually begun summer-job hunts in March.

And, while all five believe online searches are essential for tracking down summer work, they also believe old-fashioned methods are still useful. For instance, Karen Fast, career centre manager for Humber Institute of Technology and Advanced Learning in Toronto, suggests looking at the Yellow Pages.

Other Fast tips:

• Check last year’s listings – if they hired last year, they’ll probably hire this year.

• Perfect your resumes.

• Use the part-time job listings — these employers often hire for summer.

• Think strategically — which companies do the most business in summer? (Examples: garden centres, resorts, golf clubs, camps).

• Check out sites such as JOBspyder, Workopoliscampus, Gojobs, Summer Company, Summer Experience Program, Canada Jobs, Cool jobs Canada.

• Check with friends, family, teachers, peers and grads.

“The truth,” Rogers says, “is that it’s often who you know, but that just means students need to get out there and get to know people. They shouldn’t just rely on sitting behind a computer for a job.”