I often reflect on the blessing of our amazing team of student workers at Fresno Pacific University. When I began my journey as an employee 12 years ago, I had 11 student workers that I felt an immense responsibility to lead, train and mentor; not only in the day-to-day tasks related to their positions on campus, but in the skills that would take them into their professional jobs once they left the “Sunbird nest.” Research clearly shows that student workers on university campuses develop immensely in communication, problem-solving, customer service and critical thinking. In addition, student employees tend to be more academically successful and more likely to persist toward completing their degrees. It’s imperative that we acknowledge this important resource and invest in leading them toward preparation for the workforce.
Student workers for the regional campuses are our unsung heroes; they are the “super heroes” that help us do what we do every day. It isn’t surprising that student workers sometimes have a better understanding, and sometimes more knowledge, than some of the professional staff; this is simply because they are often the front-line responders that work with the nuts and bolts of all that we do! Our student workers take pride in helping potential and current students, processing forms, answering phones, scanning, filing, cleaning our classrooms, scheduling appointments and much…much…more!
In my position, I look for ways to pour into our student workers. Whether it’s involving them in strategic planning, special projects, customer-service role playing or taking them to events or conferences, I’m excited to say that seeing the fruit of our efforts has been so rewarding! Over the years, I’ve seen at least eight student workers become part of our professional staff and five become assistant directors at the regional campuses. In addition, our student workers have been involved in community projects and leadership conferences and have worked to build their resumes with professional development and internships.
It’s not unusual to hear me remind them to be someone’s hero today; in fact, it’s in our customer care specialist’s job description! Our student workers shed light into areas that we may be unaware of; they understand the student’s journey and can empathize when faced with struggles or unanswered questions. They bring to the table a lens through which to see potential and current students and can speak perceptively into our processes and procedures. Student workers share their lives with us: intellectually, spiritually, socially. If you ask me, I find working with students one of our greatest honors as staff and faculty at Fresno Pacific University. Not only do we get to shape student workers intellectually in the classroom, but socially, spiritually and professionally in our offices.
Have you looked around…and thanked a student worker today? Watch for the capes…there are Super Heroes on our campuses!
Fede, J. H., Gorman, K. S., & Cimini, M. E. (2018). Student Employment as a Model for Experiential Learning. Journal Of Experiential Education, 41(1), 107-124. doi:10.1177/1053825917747902