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Navigating campus employment

Noor Hamouda, sophomore international business major, works at the IT Tech Support Desk on campus. “It’s nice [to work here] during the school year because I can do a lot of homework,” Hamouda said.  Photo by Jane Jerman

Noor Hamouda, sophomore international business major, works at the IT Tech Support Desk on campus. “It’s nice [to work here] during the school year because I can do a lot of homework,” Hamouda said.  Photo by Jane Jerman

Anyone who stepped on Westminster’s campus this summer may have thought it looked empty. Richer Commons wasn’t bustling with people. The classrooms in Meldrum had lights off and doors closed. But step into any office, and there was likely a student worker answering the phones or running the front desk.

Every year, Human Resources estimates 700 students are hired to fill nearly 1,200 jobs—all located on campus. These student employees work nearly everywhere: in various offices, the mailroom and for professors.

Anyone looking for a position for the school year can look at the Employment Wizard on The Career Resource Center’s website or for open positions at the many businesses around Salt Lake City.

Students who want to supplement their schoolwork with some income and work experience during the school year must weigh the benefits and drawbacks of on-campus versus off-campus job.

Some positions, like hall monitors, have downtime where students can complete homework and watch Netflix while they work. But some positions require other tasks, like filing paperwork, teaching fitness classes, answering phones and more.

Kristie Ross, assistant director of events and campus visits, said the admissions office hires 15 to 20 students to lead campus tours during the school year, and the office works around class schedules like most campus jobs.

Ashley Castro, a manager in Human Resources, said students on campus gain more than just an income from campus jobs.

“One thing that’s great is that it helps you build relationships with people on campus,” Castro said. “It gives you the opportunity to have a real work experience while you’re still in college.”

Although there are benefits to working at Westminster, some students decide to seek employment off campus. Erin Moore is a senior English major who has worked in retail since her first year at Westminster. She currently works at Unhinged, a clothing store near campus.

Moore said she’s usually on the clock 20 to 25 hours a week and enjoys her job because it’s laid back and pays more than a job on campus could.

“I’m able to pay for food and rent,” Moore said. “If I had a campus job, I would have been relying more on my parents for support, and I don’t like to do that.”

Castro said most off-campus jobs do offer higher pay.

“Even though they pay a little bit lower here, it’s nice that you’re able to get some real world experience in a field that you are most likely interested in,” Castro said.

Moore said it can be taxing at times to have a job that doesn’t support her studies. At a previous job, she was often asked to work 30 hours or more per week.

“If I was doing that job right now in my senior year, I wouldn’t have enough time for anything,” Moore said.

Most on-campus jobs offer a maximum of 20 hours a week, but students often have one or two jobs that combine hours. Ashley Castro said the 20-hour cap on student labor is only in effect during the academic year. Some jobs allow students to work up to 40 hours a week during breaks and over the summer.

“Part of the reason we do that is because we want students to focus on academics,” Castro said. “Working a 40-hour work week and then trying to go to school full time is not an easy [task]. In our opinion, we’re just setting students up for failure if we’re having them work that much.”

It can be difficult for some students to work with the 20 hour per week limit, especially if they’re involved in many organizations on campus. Kaydee Gilson, junior marketing major, had to change her schedule when she added another job. In order to stay under 20 hours, she cut back on her original job to make room for her new one.

“As a student paying rent, it would have been nice to have the option to receive compensation for the hours I wanted to put in,” Gilson said. “I think the 20 hour rule came from wanting students to focus on school, but it’s not possible for a lot of students to pay rent with such few hours. There are a multitude of reasons why I love working on campus—flexibility, convenience, building meaningful relationships, etc.—but it’s difficult to stay with the 20 hour rule.”

This year, Gilson was selected as the ASW Director of Communications, and the scholarship she and the other student board members receive is applied directly to their tuition at the beginning of the year.

Organizations on campus like The Forum, ASW, The Myriad and others have had difficulties figuring out how to compensate their student employees. The positions used to be paid with stipends, but now these organizations have to choose between receiving scholarships that can only be applied to tuition or inserting hours into WebAdvisor—which sometimes removes the possibility of a student employee having another job on campus.

“We did away with stipends because they don’t fit the best practices for paying employees,” Castro said. “We have to track hours because of ACA [Affordable Care Act] reporting, which is federal government reporting.”

Many employers favor scholarships over inputting hours because the students in these organizations can often work over 20 hours a week and would therefore not receive compensation for extra work—especially if they happened to work another campus job. But some say an issue with scholarship pay is that it could be discouraging students from getting involved in certain activities. When compensation is applied to tuition, it takes away a monthly income that could go toward rent, groceries and daily life.

International students face even more regulations. Because they are from out of the country, Castro said they are only allowed to have an on campus job and cannot go over 20 hours a week. They can, however, be hired for an internship off campus.

But even with all of these rules and regulations, there are two options for students who want a campus job but want to go over the 20-hour per week cap. These options are working for the Westminster College Bookstore, managed by Follett Higher Education, or working for Shaw Cafeteria, run by Bon Appetit Management Company.

Because the positions in the bookstore and the cafeteria are offered by outside contractors, the school doesn’t have a say in how they organize their workers’ schedules or pay.

Doug Powell, former general manager for Bon Appetit, said Bon Appetit hires independently from Westminster.

“Students can work here over 20 hours,” Powell said. “In fact, we encourage it. You’re treated like an employee of Bon Appetit and if you work full time you can get benefits, vacation time, anything.”

McCall Mash, junior public health major and managing editor for The Forum, works in the bookstore on campus.

“There are some points I’m asked to work 40 hours a week,” Mash said. “During the school year they usually allow 28 hours, and in the summer it’s up to 40 again.”

But working for an outside contractor does have its drawbacks. If students are eligible for work study, they are unable to use that award through an outside contractor.

“Federal Work-Study provides part-time jobs for undergraduate and graduate students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses,” according to the Federal Student Aid website. “The program encourages community service work and work related to the student’s course of study.”

To be eligible for work-study, students should check with Financial Aid and submit a FAFSA. If they have a balance due on their tuition that’s not paid by a loan, grant, or other funding, Castro said they are most likely eligible. Even part time students are eligible.

The federal government provides Westminster with $260,000 per year for work study. For every 75 cents of that, the school provides another 25 cents. In the end, Castro said that $325,000 of Westminster’s budget goes toward work study students.

Choosing whether to have an on-campus job, off-campus job or something in between can take a lot of deliberation. Students interested in learning more about jobs on campus can attend the college’s job fair on August 23rd at 2:30 p.m. in the HWAC Behnken Field House.

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