Student Affairs Launches Student Employment Pilot

This fall, the Office of Student Affairs embraces a new strategy for student on-campus employment. This student employment pilot will not only make it easier for students to apply for jobs, but it will help them cultivate their leadership and transferable skills for future employment beyond Simmons.

With its new (and still unnamed) student employment pilot, Student Affairs aims to make on-campus student work an especially meaningful part of the student experience. According to Associate Director of Recreation and Student Wellness Ryan Bradshaw, "we also want to make sure that those employment opportunities help students gain transferable skills that make them better prepared for future employment post-graduation. We want to help students find jobs more easily and take advantage of federal work study."

While employed at Simmons, students will develop many skills that are sought after by today's employers, including problem solving skills, communication skills, customer service skills, and teamwork experience. Bradshaw states that employers today see many candidates with similar academic credentials, so they prioritize candidates with transferable skills. The Simmons pilot, therefore, will help students foster and recognize these skills, allowing them to better market themselves to employers.

Bradshaw, who supervises over 40 students, often involves student employees in interviewing potential new hires, and supervising and training fellow students. When reviewing other candidates' resumes and interview performance, students can better reflect on the presentation of their own skills and experiences.

Working on-campus jobs also improves students' academic performance. "One of the goals of the pilot is student retention," explains Dr. Renique Kersh, Vice President of Student Affairs. "We know that students who work on campus are often more successful academically and more likely to return. We are supporting them and providing feedback that will help them in their future career. This employment puts student growth and development at its center."

As Dr. Kersh elaborates, "the mission of Simmons is to prepare and empower women to do life's work. And that's the crux of the pilot. As an institution, we can think about our philosophy on work, and intentionally prepare students for life's work. This will help Simmons students be the next leaders in this world, which we know they will be."

Bradshaw adds that the leadership component of the pilot is inspired by President Lynn Wooten. As President Wooten says, "when Simmons leads, the world works better."

Student Affairs currently employs over 200 students. Most of these jobs are designed for undergraduates, but positions for graduate students are also available. There are also select remote positions that may be suitable for online students. Moreover, a number of students are employed by Simmons but work in the community in conjunction with The Center for Community Engagement. Students that are eligible for federal work study are encouraged to apply, but this is not a requirement for on-campus employment.

Another unique aspect of the student employment pilot is the performance review component. "That is the next step of our project," says Bradshaw. "We want to help students with the formal review process, and train them to articulate their transferable skills and advocate for themselves. When students are writing their cover letters and resumes, they should be able to tell the story of their skills."

Student employees at other institutions typically do not learn how to engage in a performance evaluation process. According to Dr. Kersh, "people don't often experience performance evaluations until they get out in the [off-campus] workplace. So for a student to do this, they have an opportunity to receive positive and critical feedback. Their supervisors can coach and mentor the students so they can continue in their role and be ready for work outside of Simmons." The pilot also asks students to reflect on their on-campus job and submit a piece of writing based on this reflection, which is beneficial to their development.

In addition to performance reviews and self-reflections, the program requires student workers to participate in a leadership development activity in the fall and spring. This allows students to apply what they have been learning in their student employment position. The leadership component will occur during their paid work time. "This is experiential equity," explains Dr. Kersh. "We know that many of our students have to work and therefore aren't able to take advantage of things like leadership development. This model brings the two together giving students the space to take advantage of the opportunities we make available to them."

Being employed by Student Affairs at Simmons offers benefits beyond a job and a paycheck. As Bradshaw says, "this opportunity also prepares them for the life ahead. It's an opportunity to learn, accept challenges, and get hands-on experience in a safe space, and student employees can feel encouraged to take some risks and try some new things in a work setting while in a supported environment."

Any Simmons student can get involved by applying to work for Student Affairs. Bradshaw and his team are currently developing a webpage for all the jobs to be listed in one place, which makes job searching considerably easier. Bradshaw encourages students to attend the Student Employment and Involvement Fair on September 22, from 1-3pm in the Linda K. Paresky Conference Center. External employers will also be at the event.

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