On-campus jobs provide experience

Emily Williams

While many college students work in stores or restaurants, one of the largest employers of students is the University itself.

Vaishali Patel, recruitment specialist for the Department of Human Resources, said the University employs more than 4,000 students, and 52 percent of those positions are filled by undergraduates. These positions range from office jobs to lab assistants or research positions, and the number of positions varies each semester depending on the needs of each department.

“While most on-campus jobs are usually in high demand, office assistant positions are typically most popular because they tend to be entry-level and have the most flexible hours,” Patel said.

Dani Beach, a junior majoring in entrepreneurship, works as an assistant in the Office of Student Employment. She has worked for the University in various positions since her freshman year and said working on campus, rather than for an outside company, has allowed her to make localized connections.

(See also “On-campus jobs offer more benefits than pay“)

“You get to meet people on campus, and I have actually met people who have been mentors to me through my job, like professors and things like that, that have helped me and talked to me about what I want to do after college,” Beach said.

Most student positions require between 10 and 20 hours of work each week. Beach said she typically works 12, which is the standard.

Shuwen Yue, a sophomore majoring in chemical engineering, said she has the distinct opportunity to work as a researcher in the Alabama Innovation and Mentoring of Entrepreneurs center. Her work at AIME investigates the business potential of new technology and testing prototypes.

“I have the chance to work with all the staff members at AIME, particularly Dan Daly, and they have taught me so much about the business and innovation side of science and research,” Yue said. “I have also had the opportunity to meet with many corporate executives from regional companies.”

(See also “Work study opportunities appear on and off campus“)

In addition to researching at AIME, Yue is also an resident advisor, which she said has taught her an entirely different set of skills.

“Being an RA is requires a lot more of communication, organization and leadership based responsibilities,” Yue said. “Instead of the methodical approach of research, RA responsibilities are more focused on community development and being a constant resource for residents.”

Christian Smitherman, a senior majoring in psychology and political science, also works for Housing and Residential Communities as a key assistant.

“I work usually anytime anyone gets locked out during the day when it’s on campus,” Smitherman said. “What I do, if anyone gets locked out, they’ll call the front desk for their community, and then the front desk will call me, and then I’ll go unlock their doors.”

Smitherman said the benefits of working on campus include a short commute and a student-tailored work schedule.

“Usually your bosses are pretty accommodating with your class schedule and all, and a lot of these positions are work-study positions, so not only are you able to work and make some money to pay bills and all, but you also might get to do some homework and sort of really furthering your education,” he said.

Smitherman, who said he plans to go to graduate school for psychology, admitted that working for the HRC doesn’t directly pertain to his career path, but it has taught him valuable skills for dealing with people at their best, and sometimes their worst.

“Being a desk assistant in addition to being a key assistant, I get to see both sides of people, the happy face and a little bit of the not-as-well side sometimes,” Smitherman said. “It hasn’t really taught me about working in labs or writing a thesis or anything like that, but it’s definitely helped me working with a broad base of people, a very diverse group of people.”

(See also “Part time students must balance school, work“)