Universities are increasingly providing undergraduate students with opportunities for paid work experience, appointing them for roles on campus. These tend to be enthusiastically welcomed by students, both for the money earned and the professional experience provided. With concerns over tuition costs and rising student debt levels, this is hardly surprising. But it certainly isn’t new. Although these programs for student employment are becoming more prevalent, it’s been a fairly common practice in our customers’ media stores for quite some time.
Often the approach to hiring students is that if there’s work to be done, and it’s appropriate and practicable for students to do it, they can be given preference for filling a vacancy. As well as enabling students to earn while they study, it often means posts are filled more quickly and with less time spent on search and selection. In the case of media stores, it also provides extra resource to open longer hours. There are some common caveats though. The posts are temporary and usually for periods of a few months only. They involve part-time hours to allow a fit with study commitments, and avoid student holidays.
Learning from the US
Student worker programs are very much the norm in the US, with students often expected to work and earn their way through college. In fact, there are studies referenced by US institutions that claim working students do just as well or better academically than those that don’t. Further claims state that grades improve as working hours increase (to a maximum of 20 hours per week) and that student workers are more likely to complete their degrees. Many think it helps them structure their time better and gives a greater sense of community and involvement with their institution, on top of easing the financial burden. It also adds to their experience knowing that the transferable skills they are learning will demonstrate they are ‘job-ready’ once they’ve graduated. In some cases, students are able to achieve career progression, assuming greater responsibility and a supervisory status over other student workers. A varied program also gives an opportunity for students to sample different career choices, adding to their overall experience of higher education.
Smart recruitment decisions
So we can see that hiring your own students amounts to an arrangement of mutual benefit. The advantages tend to increase when students are hired from within their own department though. In the case of media store employment, students’ familiarity of handling the kit as part of their courses – for example journalism, photography or media production – adds to the department’s pool of expertise. It also ensures the new recruits are quickly up and running when helping other students to borrow the equipment.
The arrangement functions particularly well when the department has operations structured in a way that are quick and easy for new workers to grasp. This is the case for our connect2 university customers who are able to get students coordinating equipment loans with minimal training...