Weighing the pros, cons of student employment
GVSU community weighs in on benefits, downsides of jobs
When entering higher education, students face not only upper-level courses and all-nighters at the library but also, for some of them, their first job.
At Grand Valley State University, the Student Employment Office (SEO) works with the university and its various departments to create job opportunities for students.
Anne Zalud, the assistant director of student employment at GVSU, said the SEO is like “the HR for students.”
“Departments are the ones who write their own job descriptions,” she said. “They decide the flexibility, what the job is going to entail. They set (their) own wage for the job; each department sets their own wage.”
Zalud also emphasized how SEO keeps LakerJobs, an online job database, up-to-date so students have a chance to view on-campus and off-campus job opportunities.
“We have a presence at new student orientation, and at the beginning of the day, there is a resource fair, if you will, and we have a table there,” she said. “If they stop there, then we can talk to them about financial aid, about scholarships, and we can talk to them about the LakerJob board and how to go there and search for a job.”
Here are a variety of job experiences a few GVSU students shared:
Student accounting assistant – payroll department
Brad Schnitzer, who studies accounting and finance at GVSU, said the best part of working in the payroll department is that it is more than a paycheck.
Being able to use his Microsoft Excel skills and learn how payroll works, he said, are benefits for his future accounting career.
Also, the department is flexible with scheduling work hours around classes and finals week, he said.
“Personally, I work 12 to 15 hours a week, depending on my class schedule,” Schnitzer said. “The best part about working in the payroll department has been growing my professional skill set, as well as working together with my fantastic coworkers and bosses to keep payroll running smoothly.”
Librarian – Frey Foundation Learning Center and Steelcase Library
Jake Rzeppa, a multimedia journalism student at GVSU, said his best job was working at the GVSU libraries in downtown Grand Rapids.
He said he “loves being in libraries” due to working with individuals like Patty Kishman, the operations and service point library specialist at the Frey Foundation Learning Center for Health Sciences, and Jason Durham, the operations manager of Pew Campus Libraries.
Referencing how Kishman previously bought him lunch over the summer and how Durham talked about “our favorite History Channel shows,” Rzeppa said he appreciates the overall work environment while sitting at his desk at the downtown libraries.
“I don’t know if I’ll enjoy another job more,” Rzeppa said. “I like it so much, I feel guilty if I’m even a minute late. Working at the Allendale library seems stressful, while working at Frey and Steelcase is as chill as jobs come. I truly can’t say enough good things about it.”
Tutor – math and stats lab
Chloe Wentzlof, who has worked in the math and stats lab at GVSU for more than two years, said her work hours are flexible when matched with her class schedule.
The work environment, she said, is laid-back, as if no one is asking for assistance, and she said the tutors are allowed to work on their own homework.
“What I find extremely beneficial about working at the math and stats lab is the knowledge of the other tutors,” she said. “We almost all are math or stats majors, so we are able to collaborate and help each other with upper-level courses. If capable, I highly recommend this job to anyone who is qualified.”
Campus Dining employee – Fresh Food Co. and Kleiner
Jordan Hill, a freshman student, is a former Campus Dining employee at GVSU.
After working at Campus Dining during the fall 2016 semester, Hill said the strict rules regarding scheduling were not something she had experienced in her previous jobs.
“Most of everything I knew about working in a restaurant job was from a previous job I had in high school,” she said. “They do not train in Campus Dining. They put you at a station and expect you to just pick it up eventually.”
Staff member – 2020 Information Desk
Willow Tufts, a social work major at GVSU, said she loved working at the 2020 Information Desk on the Allendale Campus.
Being able to socialize with different parts of GVSU, Tufts said it was fun always knowing what was happening around the Allendale and Pew campuses because “it is part of the job to know.”
“You are always plugged into what is going on in Student Life and all kinds of clubs,” she said. “Also, working there gives you time—in the nights and on the weekends, usually—to do homework at the desk, and it really puts you in a position to better yourself all around.”
For more information about student employment at GVSU, visit www.gvsu.edu/studentjobs/.