During my time as an undergrad, I had the amazing opportunity to be a Student Ambassador for my institution. At first, I served as a volunteer giving the campus tour (no longer a volunteer position, but a paid opportunity). I moved into a telecounseling position, and from there it exploded into an outstanding professional development and general growing up opportunity.
While maintaining the core objectives of learning about the institution, giving campus tours from anyone to classrooms of 6th graders through graduate students, and working the open house/special events, I worked in our daytime operations. Our day time operations ran the office. There was a student manager, someone answering the phone to schedule visits, someone (Me) to answer the general university email account, someone to float and assist, and two people to welcome and manage our front desk. There were three shifts approximately each day, all coordinated by a student. If our supervisors wanted to go to a conference and present on our program, and they did, they literally could point out that they were there and our office is still running.
While many people have concerns over the legitimacy of student work and whether the responsibility is appropriate for a student to do, I have to respond with, “Let them do it.” Now, with that means training and supervision, but outside all the logistics and politics, you are creating something much bigger.
You are creating the opportunity for that student to grow.
My final position in that office, on top of the tours, the answering of emails, and working special events, was “Professional Development Coordinator.” A rather fancy title that I imagine a lot of us would like to have now as full-time professionals. My responsibility, develop training sessions that helped build on the core responsibilities we learned from our retreats throughout the semester. These trainings would be on effective communication, creating healthy work relationships, and all the other topics our supervisors wanted to talk about, but didn’t have the time to talk about it. It was my opportunity to professionally grow in terms of developing trainings, presenting, communicating with others, and researching topics.
I wouldn’t be where I am without these opportunities. As some of us continue to fight the battle with budget cuts, and even those that aren’t, there is lot to be said and a lot of power that can come from student employment.
Want to know more about my experience, connect with me on Twitter @JoshKohnert.