LifeWorks makes changes due to large freshman class

Katelynn Singleton, news editor

Following the admission of around 735 first-year students, the LifeWorks program made accommodating efforts to place these students into on-campus jobs. This meant increasing the number of jobs that were offered on campus by contacting supervisors and adding any new jobs that were requested. These new jobs will stay in place in following years as a part of the expansion of the LifeWorks program. 

Last year, LifeWorks strived to make the process of assigning students to jobs more simple by improving technology and the efficiency of the assignment process. This work was able to coincide directly with the need to increase the jobs on campus, as the LifeWorks team was able to ensure that the jobs students were being placed in were a good fit for the individual. Marc Hunsaker, the dean of personal and professional development, said that they wanted to make sure that the jobs students were placed in aligned with their interests, future plans and any prior experience they might have. 

“This year, the focus was on helping create good fit first jobs,” Hunsaker said.

Helen Simmons, a career consultant for the Evans School, helped to manage the process. There had been communication with supervisors since the spring to determine what jobs could be added where. Simmons asked supervisors to look ahead and think about how they wanted their teams to look and what their needs were. They were also asked how many first-year students were needed to help with those needs. 

“We did not do it single-handedly by any means,” Simmons said. “Supervisors are the ones that get the credit, really, for identifying needs and letting us know those needs so we could get freshmen in their jobs.”

Supervisors let LifeWorks know what type of work environment they had and the skills students would need. According to Hunsaker, the survey that students fill out to get their placement was much more comprehensive than in previous years. Out of the 735 students who were sent the survey, almost all completed it and were given placements. Hunsaker says that during Viking Venture, several students came to the Office of Personal and Professional Development to apply for jobs. The students that have yet to fill it out are still able to apply for a LifeWorks job by visiting the Personal and Professional Development office.

According to Hunsaker, there were 850 jobs created within the LifeWorks program for first-year students. Simmons said that amount is several hundred more than in previous years. Although there is an excess of jobs, freshmen are still expected to stay in their job for the first semester. Come the second semester, freshmen are allowed to become “free agents” and look for their own job, or turn to the LifeWorks office for help. 

“We do think that provides stability, so we are still encouraging students to stay in that first job for the first semester,” Simmons said.

The addition of jobs is expected to remain in the coming years. Simmons says that jobs were added due to supervisors growing their teams to provide coverage or expand what they offer. One department added an entirely new team with around ten new spots. The goal is to maintain the amount added. Hunsaker says they hope to continue working with supervisors to make sure that as the campus evolves and needs change they can direct the right amount of students to them.

“We hope that every year, new opportunities continue to emerge,” Hunsaker said.

Morgan Stansell, access services coordinator for the Memorial Library, said that she was able to welcome two freshmen to her team at the circulation desk. She says that she didn’t have a lot of students graduate in 2021, which limited her ability to hire freshmen. 

“In the past, I’ve had five freshmen in a semester, but this semester and last semester we haven’t had many freshmen student workers,” Stansell said.

Thomas Shipman, the Lab & McAllister Building Coordinator for Chemistry, has one of the largest teams with a single staff supervisor. He said that he has 42 students, and hired seven new workers, which is more than normal. While there are a lot of students to manage, Shipman says the students have work to do. The chemistry department added more classes to accommodate the freshman class, which means the students who work for Shipman have to prepare materials for more classes.

“There’s just a lot of moving pieces,” Shipman said, “There’s a lot of people at a lot of different times, that all need to make sure they’re told what they need to know. So, communication has become, an important part.”

Hunsaker encourages students to reach out to the LifeWorks office with any questions, as well as to gain a better understanding of what the LifeWorks program can do for them. 

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