Over the course of my 30-year-career as a Director of Student Life and Services, I’ve hired hundreds of students to work for my department. At the start of each semester departments post flyers and campus web postings looking for student staff. If you are looking for campus employment here are a few things you need to know to make your job search successful.
Financial Aid verses Part-Time Students: Find out if you are eligible for financial aid/work study. Many departments that are looking for student help must hire financial aid students first. Why? Because part of the student’s salary comes from their financial aid money and a small percentage comes from the departmental budget. This makes students with financial aid more desirable. If you do not have a financial aid packet and would like to work on campus you will be considered a part-time work; meaning all of your salary will come from the department’s budget. Because of this fact part-time students may have more difficulties finding campus employment. However I would frequently hire part-time students if they exhibited special skills and/or talents required by my department, i.e.: Internet research, Digital Imagery experience or basic software packages such as Photoshop, Creative Suite, Microsoft Office Suite, etcetera. These skills are a plus on college campuses.
Be Honest: College departments know that your resume is limited. Let them know what experience you have and be honest. I remember one amazing student worker who came to my office as a freshman. He knocked on my door and introduced himself by saying, “Hello I’m Chris, I have Financial Aid and I’m the lowest element on the university food chain . . . I’m a freshman. Will you be willing to take a chance and hire me?” After five minutes of belly aching laughter, I hired him on the spot! When you are looking for an on campus positions remember honesty can be the best policy and a great sense of humor doesn’t hurt.
Keep Your Grades Up: Most colleges require a minimum grade point average of 2.5 to work on campus. You may also be limited to 10-15 hours per week. If your campus job is interfering with your class work cut back your hours. If you are a reliable student worker the department will understand and keep you on with limited hours.
First Impressions: There is an old saying you never get a second chance to make a first impression. This is true for student workers as well. Applying for a job in the Admissions Office or Dean’s Office as compared to looking for work in the Campus Landscaping department would require different dress codes. Remember dressing appropriately for the position you are seeking can make the difference in landing the job or not. I had a female student apply for a student receptionist position in my office and came dressed in cut off jeans and a bikini top. It’s safe to say she did not get the position.
Bring Documents With You: Most offices require you to fill out an internal campus application. This requires two or three important documents, i.e.: Social Security Card, an I-9 form for Proof of Citizenship and one or two forms of photo identification. Having these documents [with you] means your application can be processed much faster. They are also needed if you choose direct deposit of your student pay check.
Don’t Give Up: If you have not secured an on campus job within two-three weeks contact your Career Services Office. They usually have student jobs posted on their website and/or in their office. They are able to connect you with offices personnel who are still looking for student staff.