Universities around the country will celebrate National Student Employment Week, April 15-21, as a way to recognize the invaluable support that students provide to their institutions. In Pullman, WSU’s Division of Student Affairs invites all WSU departments system-wide to show their appreciation to the university’s greatest strength, its students.
According to the Academic Success and Career Center, 7,249 student employees are working on-campus across the WSU system’s five physical campus locations. 5,674 of these are undergraduate students.
Student Affairs Administrators in Higher Education (NASPA) reports that an average of 70-80 percent of full or part-time students nationally are employed either on-or off-campus. Currently, there are over 2,700 Pullman students working in 31 different departments and areas within the Division of Student Affairs. This accounts for just slightly less than half of all students on the Pullman campus.
New experiences, better service
Yolanda Li, a junior broadcast news major and hospitality business management minor, works as a student employee for WSU Dining Services at The Market at Global Scholars Hall. As an international student from China, Li says she liked the idea of working at The Market because of its focus on international and specialty foods from around the world.
“I have a new experience, and I meet new people every day,” Li said.
At WSU, many student employees report that they enjoy being able to gain new skills, meet new people and increase their confidence in their abilities through their jobs.
Li, who bounces between taking orders and working as a barista and as a cashier, says that she encourages other international students to apply to work with Dining Services.
“I know that many international students are looking for work experience and working in a foreign country is a great opportunity,” she said. “It helps you become part of the community. You can make new friends and get the most out of your educational journey in America.”
Director of Residential Dining Sarah Larson notes that students are a critical component to dining operations on campus. “Our student employees are involved with every aspect of the operations, bringing tremendous value every day from open to close,” she said. “They keep us in touch with student preferences, helping us better serve the WSU community.”
Beyond operational functions such as dining services and building management, students also serve one another as peer mentors, educators, resident advisors, personal trainers, and tutors.
Senior and peer health education lead Devon Holze works for Cougar Health Services. When Holze, who has served as a member of ASWSU and as an orientation counselor, learned about the health educator program, she was excited by the opportunity to continue to serve her fellow Cougs.
“This job has given me a lot of experience interacting with people,” Holze said. “It’s helpful for whatever I want to do after graduation.”
With an eye on the nonprofit sector, Holze notes that general health and wellness is a broad field and she anticipates her experience in her current position will pay off in the long run. “Other lead educators and I have been able to help develop the program in certain ways,” she said. “It’s not something I have gotten to do in any other role I’ve had.”
Karee Shaw, director of facilities and operations for the Compton Union Building and the Elson S. Floyd Cultural Center, and Joanne Greene, director of programming with University Recreation (UREC), both stress how invaluable students are to the day-to-day activities within their respective areas.
“The CUB would not function without student employees,” notes Shaw. “They support every operation in this facility from event support to custodial to customer service to crisis response. The CUB is a building for the students managed by the students.”
“Student employees help us to serve students better,” adds Greene. “They bring diverse perspectives, expertise, and experience as well as new ideas and a lot of energy which motivates us as full-time staff,” she said.