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Part-time jobs offer more than a paycheck

June 7, 2016

The members of the Office of Student Employment show up regularly at campus events.

Office director Janna McDonald, left, joined Jawz at Fall Career Week, along with members of her staff and office volunteers. The week is an annual campuswide event. | PHOTO COURTESY OF THE OFFICE OF STUDENT EMPLOYMENT

On-campus work experiences through the Office of Student Employment offer more than just a paycheck for IUPUI students each academic year. They combine learning experiences, skill development and preparation, and exposure to the professional work environments that students will experience after graduation.

According to director Janna McDonald, her office and its purpose support the IUPUI Strategic Plan.

Jawz gets a job

Jawz shows how easy it is to get help from the Office of Student Employment at one of the many employment-related events during the academic year.

"Our office mission is to help students find meaningful, academically relevant college work experiences that enhance their academic and professional growth," McDonald said.

"For students, the added benefits to quality positions in which they learn transferable skills are a paycheck and professional support in a learning environment," McDonald said. She and her staff know how important that can be.

"All of us worked while we were students in college," she said. "We know the pressures, the demands and the dreams that motivate students. It's important that they feel they're getting the experience to assist them as they create their future."

Students who take advantage of the office and the programs offered represent all classifications of IUPUI students. For example, JagJobs provided employment at one time or another for 75 of this year's Top 100 students, including 57 students who worked during the 2015-16 academic year.

"It's great practical experience, and it can give students a big advantage in the job market upon graduation," McDonald said, noting that her own experiences continue to influence her professional persona and interactions as a supervisor.

Employee appreciation is a great tool to recognize quality student workers.

Student appreciation is an important role for employers to motivate college employees, and the office held an event in April to celebrate that strategy. Craig Pelka, left, the assistant director of student employment and assessment, shows one of the free T-shirt options to a student who participated in the week's activities.

"When I was working in college, a job provided me different perspectives. The experiences you have yourself -- or learn from others you work with -- can open your eyes, even if the job isn't in the field you want to pursue," McDonald said. "If it is related to your chosen field, even better. You have a chance to use lessons from the classroom at work and use the real-life work experience in classroom discussions."

The office has benefited from information gathered by the Office of Institutional Research and Decision Support, "which provides us the valuable retention data showing that those who work on campus retain at a higher rate to the university than those who work off campus or not at all," McDonald said. "This all supports our mission and the Strategic Plan."

The Office of Student Employment prefers that career professionals in the academic units provide career preparation, and the office isn't a job placement service, either. The Office of Student Employment tries to provide guidance on:

  • Job-search strategies
  • Position research
  • Interview preparation
  • Job-search document construction

"When students graduate, they're going to be in the real world, and it's important that they are prepared to handle the challenge of a professional job search," McDonald said.

Research gathered by Institutional Research and Decision Support indicates that students recognize the value of their college work experiences on the IUPUI campus. They cite the skills and professional development they gain, the level of professionalism they develop, and the networking abilities they gain for having a major impact on their lives."

"That is the type of response that motivates my staff and feeds their passion for the value of learning in student employment opportunities," McDonald said.

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