In this economy of fairly low unemployment rates, students are becoming more and more picky about the jobs they choose on campus. And those doing the choosing are leaving the more difficult jobs in the dust. They want jobs that allow them to study periodically while they work and don't cause too much eyestrain, leaving open many demanding campus jobs that students with six-plus credits and a 2.5 or better GPA may qualify for.
Yukiko Clifford, Campus Center Gallery attendant, is a good example of a student who chose a laid-back student job. She's able to study, which is a big plus for her, and the job has very little stress.
“I like the atmosphere of being in the gallery and looking at the art. I also found out that many people pass by and talk to me. It's nice. Also, I can do my homework. When I work, I see that the campus is not only for studying. I feel like a part of the community, a little,” Clifford said.
Diane Byrne knows about trying to fill the more stressful jobs on campus that require higher levels of skill. She manages the Information Technology Service Center with all of the computer labs and all the AV (Audio/Visual) services at UAA.
“I have anywhere from 24-30 employees that are student workers. It is pretty daunting to stand before the fall semester and say do we have enough staff?”
Byrne said her biggest challenge, with four computer labs, is finding and qualifying people on a technical level, but she said basic work skills and scheduling also present major problems. “We need to make sure people understand what customer service is. And what always is a challenge for us is getting 18 consultants scheduled in such a way that we can cover all our responsibilities related to computer labs,” Byrne said.
As if that's not enough, Byrne said she has the same challenge in AV Services. “We have to have people who understand a lot about electronic equipment. I think people take for granted that everyone knows how to run a VCR, but they don't. So they (student workers) have to help train faculty.”
Byrne explained that this is where customer service skills really come in handy. “Faculty get a little upset and frustrated when they can't get a piece of equipment to function,” she said.
Scheduling for AV Services is even worse than in the computer labs. “They have to have a very flexible schedule so they can meet the scheduling demands. We have 15-minute window of opportunity to get everything delivered of an AV nature for that hour of classes,” she said.
Mike Cooper, a science and technology baccalaureate student, hires students to work at the library. As reserve and student supervisor at the UAA/APU Consortium Library, he said he has “a plethora of applicants” for shelving books and other jobs. But Cooper, who was recently hired in a full-time, permanent job after starting at the library as a student employee, said applicants don't always work out. “We're fully staffed, but we sometimes have trouble keeping students because of schedule conflicts,” he said. “Some other students just don't work out too well,” he said. “A lot of the job is dealing with the public and dealing with machines.”
Carole Lund, program advisor for Campus Life, said Student Programs at the university has 30 labor pool positions for numerous jobs, including KRUA student radio and The Northern Light student newsmagazine. Lund said that there are several vacant positions, partly due to the fact that "training for the information desk (in the Campus Center) can be done in a relatively short period of time. The same is true for some (Consortium) library jobs. [But] the areas we have are very specialized, so they need specific skills."
Some of the vacant jobs in student media include assistant news editor and student engineer at KRUA and layout coordinator and copy editor at The Northern Light student newsmagazine. These positions are more intensive than some student jobs, and the skills take months to learn. Other open positions require management experience, which few students have.
Even the Campus Center Information Desk has been shorthanded this semester so far, said Dakotah Gibson, a journalism and public communications student who just started a master's of business program. Gibson, a former student employee, recently moved into “temporary” status (20-35 hours per week, instead of the student status maximum of 20 hours per week).
“Our busiest time is right when school starts and the first week of school,” said Gibson, who helps do the hiring for the information desk. She is relieved that the applicants are beginning to filter in. “This week, students are a little more familiar with campus, so we are getting a few more applications.”
Other major areas where students work on campus include the Sports Center, the Learning Resources Center and the College of Arts and Sciences.
Getting some extra spending cash
You may be asking yourself, how do I get a student job? The paperwork that you need to submit varies from department to department, so check first at the department where you may want to work. But at the very least, a UAA application is necessary. You can find one at /uaahrs/uaa_employment_opportunities.htm. The universal UA student employment requirements follow:
- Be enrolled in the University of Alaska system with a minimum of six-credit hours in the semester seeking employment, and
- A grade point average of 2.0 to 2.5 is required for campus jobs; if you fall below, you may be suspended or terminated from employment, so don't skip class.
- Student positions have a maximum of 20 hours per week and work with your schedule as a student.
Student employees: A few job-related suggestions
- Be on the job during your assigned work hours; others are counting on you.
- Be on time. Don't be late or absent except in an emergency; then always call your supervisor as soon as possible.
- Bring any problems you have to your supervisor right away; don't stew in them.
- Treat people the way you want to be treated.
- Keep a positive attitude.
Remember, you can put a university job on your resume!
Some of these suggestions are from Santa Monica College at www.smc.edu/. Some are common sense. And some are from experience.
UAA Salary Rates
Student Assistant I $5.75 per hour
Student Assistant II $6.75 per hour
Student Assistant III $7.75 per hour
Student Assistant IV $9.25 per hour
Graduate Assistant $10.25 +/- per hour
What is a 'bad work attitude'?
- If you think everyone is picking on you for no reason.
- If you walk away when someone is talking to you.
- If you answer most questions with a quick “no.”
- If you often sigh loudly in annoyance.
- If you roll your eyes in response to something said or done.
- If you think the world “owes you.”
The top reasons employers fire employees:
- Poor attendance
- Making too many mistakes
- Having an attitude problem
- Not getting along with a supervisor or coworker
- Working too slowly
- Not following instructions
- Lack of communication skills
- Telling the boss off