student success

Celebrating student employees

Jo Hillman

April 12, 2011

Noel-Levitz consultant Jo Hillman
Jo Hillman, senior director of retention solutions, specializes in quality improvement and staff productivity

The second full week of April is designated as National Student Employment Week. Accordingly, colleges and universities across the country will recognize the importance of the student work experience and the students who play vital roles in campus service.

In addition to providing income, employment on campus can enrich students’ higher education experience with opportunities to develop skills in preparation for the world of work upon graduation. When students ask “what’s in it for me?” the answer is “plenty.”

Campuses prosper, too, when student employees contribute their energy, enthusiasm, and authentic voice in the workplace. Who better to serve as a tour guide or answer prospective student questions than a student employee who can “tell it like it is”? And in team meetings, student workers bring a credible perspective for consideration.

I am pleased to see more and more campuses turning student worker jobs into positions of leadership. The result is a win-win. Students have a bolstered resume (e.g., managed the student employee training program); campuses have a student employee eager to shine (e.g., minimizing the drain on a full-time employee’s time to coordinate a specific function).

Keys to making student leadership roles work for your campus involve:

  • Establish detailed job descriptions and a structured application/hiring process
  • Set clear expectations with student employees and campus staff about respective roles and responsibilities
  • Provide training on essential skills and using related competency checklists
  • Conduct timely evaluations of student-worker performance with frequent feedback
  • Maintain a climate of performance excellence for the entire campus
  • Hold staff meetings or one-on-one meetings with student workers to really listen to their ideas
  • Increase the student employee’s responsibility with each passing year

Campuses are redesigning their student employment programs into competitive work-study environments resulting in less turnover in work-study positions, students enjoying what they do, with an eagerness to learn more. To read more about one campus’s exceptionally successful approach, e-mail me and I’ll send you the case study. I would also like to hear what you are doing on our campus:

  • What are the hallmarks of your student employment program?
  • What are some of the ways you will celebrate this week with the students who work alongside campus employees?

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Student Success