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Student Unemployment: Job Loss Hits Campus

Michigan State University’s students not only contribute to the institution academically, but also as employees who assist in its vital functions.

Student jobs can include “department aides, computer assistants, food-service workers, laboratory attendants, research aides, tutors, and computer assistants to name just a few,” according to MSU’s Human Resources Web site.

As of Oct. 10, there were approximately 9,814 students employed on-campus, said Wendy Coduti. Coduti is the Experiential Learning & On-Campus Coordinator at Career Services, located in the Student Services building.

Coduti said that the likelihood of students losing their job due to financial cuts would depend on the department they work for.  The number of student employees has fallen this year by one percent.

There is currently no information available about the average amount of time it takes for a student to find a job on campus, Coduti said.

Coduti cited Residential & Hospitality Services, formerly known as Housing & Food Services, as employing the biggest percentage of student employees on campus.

According to the Residential & Hospitality Services Web site, the department employs approximately 3,300 students per year.

Many cafeterias on campus are run with the help of student employees. (photo by Emily Lawler)

Peter Weiss, a chemical engineering junior, said he recently experienced the loss of a campus job due to lack of funding.

According to Weiss, he was employed on-campus by a genetics lab, which was located in the Biomedical Physical Sciences building.  His duties included assisting the professor in charge with experimental research.

“Recently, the grant which supplied funding for the particular project I was on was not able to be renewed, resulting in the imminent termination of my work there,” Weiss said.

Weiss said that although he did not depend heavily on his income from that job, only about five percent reliance, it had provided helpful spending cash.

Weiss said that he believes student employment on campus is very important and should be valued.

“Regarding the importance of student jobs on campus, I think they are essential to the overall student body’s investment in MSU,” Weiss said.

“Students working directly with university programs and research feel that they are a part of advancing MSU as a whole, which probably helps MSU in the future when the university looks for donations,” Weiss said.

While some students may experience job loss, work-study students will see an increase in available jobs due to stimulus funds, according to an MSU news release.

Due to research awards and a federal grant of $350,000, over 300 students will acquire work-study jobs this year, the release said.

According to the release, work-study jobs differ from other student jobs on-campus because employers are partially reimbursed the amount paid to students.

Students acquire these jobs by completing the Free Application for Federal Student Aid and demonstrating financial need, it said.

Student employees may earn up to $3,000 per year from their on-campus jobs, the Office of Financial Aid’s Web site said.  Students are paid a minimum of $6.95 per hour.

According to the Web site, holding a job on campus can help a student reduce the reliance on loans, and pay for other educational expenses.  Other benefits include time management, discipline and references to use for future careers.

John Beck, Associate Director of Labor Education in the College of Social Science, said that he believes that student employment on-campus is very important and that students are good workers.

Beck said that he was a student at MSU in the early 1970s, and he worked in a cafeteria dish room and as a resident assistant (which is the equivalent of a resident mentor).  Skills such as teamwork and human relations gained from those jobs helped him later in his career, he said.

An on-campus job is preferable, as a student would have more of an opportunity to work in a job that is related to their major and therefore future career, Beck said.

Beck cited a job as an opportunity for a student to prove to a prospective employer that they are able to balance multiple demands on their time.  He said that a college job would not only provide a break for a student from academic “brain work”, but also instill valuable work habits such as punctuality.

Through student employment, MSU students help the university run smoothly while picking up some valuable skills for their resumes and a little extra cash. Cafeteria workers, laboratory assistants and resident mentors are all important roles the university can employ students in, even with the economic downturn.

One Response to “Student Unemployment: Job Loss Hits Campus”

  1. Nancy Thoma says:

    Awesome article Kara! You did a great job.

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