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Departments struggle with maintaining student employees

March 25, 2022

One thing that students can do on campus is find employment. The number of student employees went down during COVID, but it has come back up.

“In July 2019, we employed students in approximately 900 positions. In July 2021, it was down to around 500, and now we have 950 active student jobs,” said Michelle Best from human resources.

The number of student employees saw a drop when COVID started and the lockdown happened. The number of employees on campus has risen back up since then, however there are still some departments that are having a hard time finding employees.

“Facilities Management has found it difficult to recruit student employees since COVID-19 began in 2020 and so we have some vacant student employee positions at this time,” said Alan Symicek, the chief facilities officer. Departments have had to work harder to recruit students because of the shutdown that happened when COVID started.

“When there was a hard stop that occurred and things were virtual for so long we had to start from the beginning. Many departments had to start from scratch with getting people to join,” said Amy Lloyd, the associate director of Student Involvement. Because school was virtual due to COVID, when students came back to campus there were many that did not know about the job opportunities available to them. 

Another reason that there might be difficulties for some departments to find student employees is that enrollment numbers are down. Since there are fewer students, there could be fewer candidates to fill the jobs on campus. 

“There are jobs in the community that pay more,” said Melissa Wilson, the director of Career Services. This could be another reason that there might be difficulties in finding students to work on campus. Some of the departments on campus have raised their wages so that they could be competitive with jobs in the community.

Handshake is the platform that UW-River Falls students can use to find jobs on campus and in the community. Every student already has an account on Handshake and can access it with their student ID number and password. Departments will also have current employees recruit people, put up posters, or post on social media to advertise the positions they have open.

If there are open positions on campus that are not filled by students, current student employees may be asked to pick up more hours. It varies from department to department what will happen if the jobs are not filled.

“One of the benefits of working on campus is a more flexible schedule and having an employer that understands that your student status is a priority,” said Wilson. “One of the biggest advantages of working on campus is the ease of scheduling, with the understanding that your employer knows that you are a student first.”

An on-campus job is also a great way to connect to the university and to other people. It also gives students work experience that they can use in their future jobs when they leave the university.

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