Making Your Student Employment Jobs More Career-Related
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By Rick Kincaid
The job market our graduates face is competitive and we need to do all we can to prepare our students. In Career Services, we are very aware that our students need a competitive edge and encourage students to participate in employment and/or internships.
Despite our best efforts, some students graduate with little or no career-related experience. The NASEA/Cornell survey showed that Brockport students are most likely to work in food service, retailing, or administrative/clerical jobs. As you can see, the local job market does not provide enough career-related jobs to meet demand. But you can help.
The College hires 2200+ students annually in virtually every department on campus. Students performs a myriad of tasks. Look at the jobs you provide and consider if they are allowing students to gain as much career-related experience as possible. If not, here are suggestions to help you upgrade your jobs.
Before the student is hired:
- Review the job descriptions you have. Are the duties menial and repetitive? Can they be upgraded to include work that requires more decision-making, more independent action, or more transferable skills (planning, directing, supervising)?
- Is there a career path in your department? In many departments, students start with a simple task such as filing, but, as they prove themselves, gradually are assigned more interesting tasks. Can a career path be established?
- What will the evaluative criteria be? Student Employment provides evaluation forms each year. You may use this or develop your own. Do you have a wage schedule and system to grant students pay raises for performance and longevity?
When a students is first hired:
- Share past annual reports and other materials describing the department. It is important for the new employee to understand the scope of your responsibilities so they can see the importance of those tasks and how they fit.
- Arrange a private meeting with the department head. Same reasons as above.
- Explain the evaluation criteria, process and schedule. Explain your wage schedule and how to earn raises. Share the career path and promotions the student might earn.
- What's happened to your alums? For example, University Police has a bulletin board of photos of past student employees(in uniform) who have gone on to law enforcement careers.
During the employment:
- Evaluate regularly and thoroughly according to a schedule. Evaluate and provide informal feedback on an ongoing basis. Remember their attitudes toward job punctuality, attendance, behavior and initiative are being shaped by you.
- What else can the student learn? Can they shadow other departmental employees to learn about other functions?
- Include your students as information is routed through your office. Let them know what items are under consideration at staff meetings. Include them in some meetings. Do you know of committees that need a student rep?
- Discuss your policy on writing letters of recommendation for student employees. Let them know you are willing to do this and the criteria you will use.
- Even with routine jobs, explain why they are being done. Rotate job duties.
- Include students in departmental social events. We are available to help with changes.
If there are strategies you successfully employ that we haven't mentioned, please let us know. We believe that the gains you see in job satisfaction and team building will repay your investment many times.