When relatives or friends from home ask about the highlights of my college experience, they’re often surprised when I mention my various jobs in addition to academics or friendships. As it happens, my experiences with student employment have genuinely been a highlight for me the past two-and-a-half years.
My jobs during college have been some of the most essential factors for my professional and personal growth, and they’ve enabled extracurricular learning that will benefit me for the rest of my life. I’m fortunate to have held multiple jobs on campus, all of which have taught me something new about myself and about working with others. I work as a blogger for the Office of Admissions, a team leader for the Goergen Athletic Center, and a student clerk for the Department of Rare Books, Special Collection and Preservation.
Even before I arrived at Rochester for Orientation, I was planning to find a job of some sort on campus. Though I anticipated that the added responsibility of a job would affect the amount of time I could devote to studies, extracurriculars, and socializing, I also knew that I wanted to be as comfortably independent from my parents as possible—and part of this, for me, entailed at least a degree of financial independence. Relying on myself for spending money was both a comfortable and realistic step toward adulthood, as well as a lessened burden for my parents.
With securing employment as a priority, then, I was excited to learn that the schedule for Orientation included a job fair, an event that facilitated interaction between a host of employers around campus and prospective applicants like myself. Attending this job fair ultimately translated into my first two jobs at the University. I met representatives from several departments around campus that were looking to hire more student workers, but I connected best with representatives from the Office of Admissions and the Goergen Athletic Center—and both meetings led to applications that eventually translated into employment.
Office of Admissions
First, at the table for the Office of Admissions, I met with a representative who was searching for prospective writers of this very blog! After conversing with her and following up with an application afterwards, I was ecstatic to be hired as a blogger. During my senior year of high school, as I was narrowing down choices for college and especially as Rochester emerged as my top choice, I enjoyed avidly reading the Admissions blog to get a sense of what life on campus would be like.
To be able to provide similar glimpses for the next wave of prospective students was a unique and exciting opportunity. After I was hired, I was charged with publishing monthly posts about my experiences on campus. Writing about my experience at Rochester for Admissions has afforded several opportunities—it’s enabled me to hone my writing and communication skills, reflect critically about my college life and campus engagements, and, perhaps most uniquely, it’s allowed me to update friends and family around the country about my life at Rochester in a succinct, fun manner.
Goergen Athletic Center
The next job I was able to secure from the job fair was my position as a fitness center monitor in the Goergen Athletic Center on campus. At the job fair, I conversed with Goergen Athletic Center administrators and current employees. After the natural, humorous banter we shared, I went home and applied to work in the fitness center through FAJobLink, Rochester’s online application portal for student employment. After my application was processed, I was contacted for an interview, which was my first contact with the fitness center team leaders, or upper-level student staff.
At the time, the team leaders who conducted my interview were all women, and they exuded professionalism and confidence—I already looked up to them before I even worked with them. The interview ended up going well, and I was hired in late September to work substitute shifts for the rest of the semester, as the regular schedule had already been created for the semester. I would have regular shifts of my own starting the next semester.
I was eager to immerse myself in the new job and earn some money at the same time, so I took as many substitute shifts as I could. As a result, I quickly learned the ropes of my position as a fitness center monitor. The job was relatively simple, but definitely rewarding—for example, in cleaning equipment and folding towels for patrons, I came to form relationships with them and would frequently converse or at least exchange smiles with them, and such instances were small but enjoyable.
As the year went on, I continued to build positive relationships with the team leaders and professional administrative staff. Inspired and encouraged by one of the team leaders I looked up to, I applied to become a team leader myself and was eventually promoted to my new role. I’ve been a team leader since, which still consists of working as a fitness center monitor but also entails coordinating the rest of the student staff in the fitness center, training new employees, and liaising between the supervisors and student staff.
While I first became a team leader with the same women—juniors and seniors at the time—that hired me, I now work almost two years later with a team leader staff of men. It was working with older female role models, though, that especially helped me cultivate a sense of leadership and professionalism. While working at the gym in this role has provided me with communication skills and a sense of my professional self, it’s also on a more personal side fostered friendships with other staff members and has certainly boosted my everyday confidence.
In addition to writing blogs and working at the gym, I now also work in the library’s Department of Rare Books, Special Collections and Preservation. This is an especially exciting position for me, since I’m seriously considering a career in academic librarianship. My interest in becoming a librarian was one of my motivations for working in Rare Books, but I was also inspired by one of my older sorority sisters who graduated May 2016. She had worked in Rare Books and often spoke highly of her experience.
While she worked there, she enabled my participation as a student responder for a library exhibit focusing on local Rochester publisher, BOA editions. Writing a response piece for the exhibit was both challenging and rewarding, and working with the librarians through that process showed me that I wanted to continue to engage with them.
So in the beginning of this semester, I applied for a student clerk position in Rare Books. Upon being hired, I began working a shift once a week at the department’s front desk, where I greet, register, and assist researchers in the department and viewers of its general exhibits. I also assist with various projects, such as organizing manuscript materials, entering data, and writing catalog slips for new and backlog materials. Working with researchers—who range from undergraduate students to visiting academics—and the department’s librarians has affirmed my desire to potentially achieve a library career, and has also taught me valuable research skills and possibilities that will, at the very least, supplement the rest of my academic life.
The three jobs I’ve held in college have fostered confidence, communication skills, and a sense of a growing professional identity. While this sort of cultivation already benefits me and will continue to do so as I seek employment after graduation, the reality of working three jobs during college to gain experience and financial independence is not always so clearly enriching and rewarding. When I am particularly busy with papers, student government projects, and maintaining relationships, balancing a regular work schedule certainly adds a degree of stress.
Ultimately, though, the stress is worth it in the face of the benefits of working during the school year. Even putting aside all the valuable experience, the simple joy in receiving a paycheck every two weeks that allows me to go out to dinner with friends or buy new books provides enough pleasure to make any of the stress worth it. Besides, I’ve certainly had to learn and adapt to time management as a result of this, which is another skill that will continue to benefit me.
Overall, my experience with employment on campus has entirely enhanced my collegiate life. If you’re interested in learning more or want a general perspective of working on campus, the University’s Student Employment Office is a good place to start. And if you’re looking to get a manageable part-time job at Rochester, there are plenty of opportunities right on campus!