On-campus jobs teach students professional skills

Business student Xiyao Ai preparing a meal at Ring of Fire in UHDS operated West Dining Hall.

Avalon Kelly, News Contributor

Campus jobs flexible, accommodative to student schedules.

Many opportunities exist on the Oregon State University campus for students looking to work during the academic year. From University Housing and Dining Services to the Valley Library to the Beaver Store and beyond, most areas of OSU have some position ready to hire a student.

Jenna Riccolo is the marketing and communications coordinator for the Career Development Center at OSU. The CDC works with students looking for the skills necessary for their careers after graduation, and part of that includes helping them find jobs during their time on campus.

“There are certain skills that all employers across the board are looking for, like verbal and written communication or leadership skills, the ability to work on a team,” Riccolo said. “So all of these things are things that we want for our students, in our student workers, in these student employment opportunities. We want them to come away with those great experiences that then they can put on a resume.”

According to Riccolo, regardless of major, student jobs can give all students marketable skills that will help when applying for future jobs. Something important to keep in mind with jobs on campus is that the tasks students are performing may not directly correlate with goals or plans, but the underlying skills and experiences gained will go beyond students’ time on campus. 

“I think students should really consider how valuable of an opportunity this is,” Riccolo said. “I think students sometimes downplay it, like, ‘It’s just an on-campus job, this isn’t going to help me in the future, I’m just doing it for a paycheck.’ I would really encourage students to look beyond that; these are amazing opportunities. We, as the university and the university staff and faculty, we are invested in our students and we are invested in them getting amazing opportunities when they leave and part of that is having really amazing experiences here.”

Employers on campus look to cultivate the career-building and professional skills of the students who work with them, according to Riccolo. Many jobs and opportunities after college require a few years of experience—even entry-level positions. Taking advantage of opportunities on campus can offer a chance to build in these skills.

Not all jobs available on campus are regulated through the university, however. One such place is the OSU Beaver Store, which, despite its location in the heart of the South side of OSU, is a student-governed non-profit operation. 

According to Erik Anderson, the general merchandise manager at the Beaver Store, the store offers students a choice to work on campus, but not for a university-affiliated department.

“That relationship is here with a lot of the kids that come aboard with us that it’s their first job,” Anderson said. “And I think that we, as full-time staff, try to nurture that relationship so that they are prepared not only for this job, but what is next in their career.”

Another aspect of working at the Beaver Store is their recognition of the busy schedule of students, according to Anderson. The full-time staff and management work to remain as flexible and accommodating of class schedules as they can within business hours.

According to Claire Roberts, an OSU student who works at the Beaver Store, one of the best aspects of working on campus is that employers recognize the demands of being a student. 

“Being a student employee is not easy,” Roberts said. “I have two jobs and go to school full-time for a degree in microbiology. Sometimes I feel as though I don’t have any downtime, but the Beaver Store recognizes that I am a student first. If I ever am having a hard time or need time off, the management is always accommodating. I think that is one of the huge benefits of working on camps; employers recognize that being a student is a full-time job in itself.”

A common feature of student jobs on campus, affiliated with the university or not, is this ability to work around student schedules. As members of the OSU community and large employers of the student population, this adaptation helps both sides of the employment process.

Lisa Schubert, assistant director of catering and retail within University Housing and Dining Services, works in the department with the largest portion of student employees on campus. According to Schubert, UHDS employs around 1,400 students with about 1,100 working in the dining facilities around campus, 160 working as student staff in residence halls and 140 working in maintenance and custodial capacities.

“Many student employees like the convenience of being on campus for classes and their job,” Schubert said. “Also, university departments are more likely to understand they are students first and employees second, so work schedules more easily revolve around class schedules.”

Campus employers aim to teach student employees skills that will assist them in future employment, such as attendance, proper dress and appearance, communication skills, problem solving and teamwork, according to Schubert.

“These are just a few of the skills you can learn in a campus job. We also train our supervisors that this is a teaching environment, so any employee performance concerns are a teaching moment first and foremost,” Schubert said.

According to Riccolo, another important thing to keep in mind when searching for an on-campus job is the variety of choices available. Departments all around campus look to hire students each year, so going out and searching for something that suits your preferences and needs will ensure as good a fit as possible.

“If working in an office maybe isn’t your jam, and that’s fine,” Riccolo said. “You might think about the different requirements that the job is asking of you or the job description or position duties and really think to yourself, ‘Is this something I want to be doing and is this a good fit for me and where I am at this time?’”

According to Riccolo, right now can be the best time to apply when you’re thinking ahead for the next academic year. Many departments on campus begin the hiring process for the next year as early as winter term. If you’re on the market for an on-campus job, go to the official listings at https://jobs.oregonstate.edu, click the student tab and peruse the openings available.

The search for a job can easily become a stressful event, especially when juggling a full class load and the responsibilities of adult life, according to Riccolo. For many students, working on campus offers a convenient opportunity to enjoy the benefits of working during school without traveling off campus. 

“It’s not just a dining hall job, you’re not just checking students in at Dixon, you’re not just making coffee,” Riccolo said. “It’s always about something larger, and I would encourage students to think about those amazing opportunities when thinking about on-campus jobs.”