No happy medium

Campus employment fluctuates

Rory York/Staff Writer/

“At the end of the day I need to get this building up and running,” Kara Lowe, director of athletic internal operations, said. She has hired roughly 30 students to begin working in Tarrant Sports Center this semester, leaving many more who applied to try and find other jobs on campus. 

    Like the directors of other on-campus jobs, Lowe hired as many students as she could to fill the areas she needed. While many students are left struggling to find jobs, some areas on campus are still lacking student employees. 

    Lowe only has a short amount of time to hire the students who work various jobs at Tarrant Sports Center at the beginning of the semester. She starts looking at applicants during the first week of classes and finalizes hiring around the four-week mark. 

    Currently, students apply for jobs using Handshake, a platform similar to other job-searching websites like Indeed. Students have to submit a resume and cover letter, and must apply quickly as jobs tend to fill up fast. 

    Kahlyn Wilson ‘26 applied to 5 jobs during the first week of classes; Durick Library, the Makerspace, the Student Life Office, the Purposeful Learning Office, and Tarrant. “I applied to half of these the first week of September, two of them in August. Nobody has gotten back to me,” Wilson said. 

    Wilson has a Federal Work-Study and applied as soon as she saw the applications go up on Handshake. Weeks have passed and the application still reads “Status: Pending.” 

    In the past, jobs were only given to students who were assigned work studies, whether it was Federal or through St. Michael’s College, said Anthony Bassignani, associate director for circulation services at Durick Library. Now, employers are also able to hire students who do not have work studies, with a high priority given to students who do. 

    Yet according to Kerri Leach, associate dean of students and director of Student Activities, students did not always apply for their jobs. “In the past, it was a folder that was given to students that said, here is where you are working, and that was where you worked,” said Leach. 

    Now that students apply through Handshake, Leach views this as an obstacle for many students, especially first years. “This can create barriers for students,” said Leach. “They have to be assertive, and it’s on them to apply for the jobs. They might not be ready for that.”

    Kerri Leach and Emily Zimmer, director and assistant director for special events, have been having trouble finding student workers since the pandemic. They used to have students specialized in certain areas of events, such as audio and cleanup. Now, there are not enough students working, making the job more work for those who do work in the Special Events Office. 

    “There are also jobs that are definitely more desirable. The library is nice, it has air-conditioning, you can sit and do your homework. That’s a sweet gig,” Leach said. 

    Those who are paid minimum wage usually work in places like the Circulation Desk or Student Activities Office, which are not continually active. A Circulation Desk worker typically works 5.5 hours sporadically a week, and the Student Activities and Tarrant workers have similar hours. These students often have more time for homework because they are not always working.  

    However, this is not the same for every job on campus. 

    Those who are trained specifically and more intensely for their jobs, like lifeguards or those who work in the Student Writing Center, get paid at a higher tier, according to Lowe.

    Sodexo is an organization not affiliated with St. Michael’s College, except in their contract to serve the meals in Alliot. In cases like this, students are not paid according to the payment tier and instead are paid according to competitors in the area. 

    “I usually look at local places like the CVS or Burger King and adjust my wages accordingly,” said Jeremy Metcalf, Operations Manager at Sodexo. 

    Additionally, the work is more intensive. “It’s more like a retail job you would have, where you are on your feet and working constantly throughout the shift,” Metcalf said. 

    Students are not the primary workers in the dining hall like they are in the library. Metcalf looks at the number of students at St. Michael’s College, and hires people according to necessity. Metcalf said he has not noticed any big fluctuation in the number of students that have joined the job. 

    In the library, Bassignani has been working as the Circulation Desk Coordinator since 2009. He deals with a large number of student workers, and this year he was only able to hire four more students. Only two were first-years. 

    Students have jobs in almost every aspect of student life on campus, whether that be in the mailroom, tutoring, or working in Tarrant Sports Center. St. Michael’s College campus relies on student workers. 

    “Overall, I think SMC is doing their best to give students opportunities with employment on campus,” said Lowe.