September 6, 2000

Campus Jobs Give Students Experience

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Whether they are the first faces you see when you enter the libraries or the first voices you hear when requesting computing help, full-time Cornell students working part-time are everywhere on campus.

The University hires 6,500 students each year who may hold one to seven jobs, according to Tom Keane, director of financial aid and student employment.

Many jobs, although not all, are made available through Federal Work-Study Grants. Through this program, the federal government pays half the salary of a student for a particular job while the University covers the other half. Offices which may not have the funding to hire student employees are then able to do so. Federal Work-Study Grants are part of a student’s financial aid package.

The largest student employer is Campus Life, which includes those students who work for the dining halls and as Residential Advisors (R.A.) and Program Assistants (P.A.). For dining halls alone, the organization hires 200 students each year and is actively recruiting students at the present time. In addition, there are a total of 250 R.A.s and P.A.s, according to human resource manager of campus life Regina Duffy ’90.

Employing over 400 new students each year and hiring almost 200 new students each fall, the seventeen libraries of the University are the second largest student employer. The jobs offered at the libraries range from circulation and computer assistants to office and administrative assistants.

Student Services, Cornell Athletics and Cornell Information Technologies (CIT) are also significant resources for student employment. Cornell’s Fitness Center employs 130 fitness monitors, along with 20 to 30 student instructors, according to Drew McElhare ’98, staffing coordinator for Cornell’s fitness centers.

“The student employees are the backbone of our program. They keep the fitness centers going,” said Darrell Wilson, director of the fitness centers.

Similarly, the students run day-to-day operations for CIT. “Sixty student consultants answer the bulk of the calls and e-mails,” said student supervisor Matt Strickland ’02.

While the University benefits from student employment, so do the students. Earning money is the number one reason for working. Experience is secondary.

“The main reason I decided to [work] was to pay for my electric bills and all other costs of living in Collegetown,” said Josh Reno ’02, a library assistant at Uris Library. “But I also like libraries. Working here furthers my addiction to reading,” he added.

In addition to incremental raises, access to a multitude of books, or a free membership to the gym (that is, if you work as a fitness monitor), there are still other benefits to student employment.

In the dining halls, for example, students begin as food service assistants, and then, based on their merit, they can be promoted to supervisors or eventually student managers.

“Resume-building is also an advantage to student employment,” said Bryn Kehrli, human resources manager for Campus Life.

Cornell’s Fitness Centers also offer a system of promotions based on merit.

For other students, working on campus provides enjoyment and a “change of pace,” said Alexis Wood ’02, who works as a tour guide and operator for University Relations. “The job is very fun and keeps your mind active,” she said.

For others, however, the time commitment prevents procrastination. “You usually have two hours a day where you procrastinate. But when you work, you are actually doing something productive,” said Yuki Molteni ’01, who works for University Relations.

Yet there can be disadvantages to student employment, especially during exam time. “It gets tough to work during exam weeks,” Reno said.

“Being a student takes more time than at other times, especially during crunch time. But the CIT has vastly improved its system to find someone to cover your shift, substitute,” said Strickland, who worked as a consultant for CIT for four years.

Three jobs at Cornell along with a full course load is “nothing” for Rob Bullwinkel ’02 who works as a library assistant, a Blue Light escort and as a monitor in laboratory experiments. Time management is the most important aspect to balance both work and school, he explained.

“I am not sure what to expect yet with working and taking courses