Work-study jobs: Too hard to come across?

Natalie DeBarto, Contributing Writer

While numerous work-study positions exist on campus, many students find the process of being hired difficult. However, those hiring students on campus disagree, stating that students need to be more proactive in their job search.

“It took me almost a year to get a job on campus,” explained Lauren Stoots, a sophomore accounting major. “I applied for everything online, but I never heard anything back.”

Lauren, like many other students, went through the online application for on-campus jobs but wasn’t hired until late spring of her freshman year.

On the other hand, Stacy Dempsey, a career counselor in the Career Center, says she sees a large amount of freshmen get hired.

“A lot of employers are looking for freshmen or sophomores who they can hire and keep for the next three or four years,” she stated. “That way they don’t have to re-hire every year.”

In order to apply for a work-study position, students must fill out the online application on RMU’s website. The application simply asks for basic information. At the end,  all available campus jobs are listed, and students can check as many jobs as they wish.

Once submitted, employers receive a notification and can choose whether or not they want to initiate contact with the student.

“Go to the offices you applied to,” suggested Dempsey. “The employers receive hundreds of applications; it’s just a list of names to them.”

Being more than just another name on a list is extremely important when looking for on-campus jobs.

“The proactive students get the jobs,” said Scott Irlbacher, former annual giving assistant who managed the Phonathon annual giving program. “The kids who come into my office or send good emails are the ones who get hired.”

According to Dempsey, over 530 students are currently employed on-campus and that number increases every year. These students are employed in various offices around campus, including Student Life, Center for Student Success and Financial Aid.

Stephanie Hendershot, director of the Financial Aid Office, said two types of work-studies exist.

Robert Morris allocates money each year to give to students for work-studies. The Financial Aid Office then allows around $3,000 per student a year to students on a need basis.

Students can work up to 20 hours a week but can’t make more than the allotted $3,000 per year. Almost 2,000 of these scholarships are given out every year, but only 277 students are currently using them.

The other type of work-study is funded by Robert Morris money for students who don’t have a work-study grant. This money is divided between almost all campus jobs, and the employers can decide which students use it.

Employers agree that the best thing students can do to be hired is to be professional.

“I get so many emails saying, ‘Yo, you hiring?’ and it’s not at all professional,” said Irlbacher. “I’m not going to hire somebody who doesn’t have good communication skills.”

Dempsey agrees that adequate communication skills are essential to securing a work-study position.

“Email skills are essential! Just being polite and not using text lingo can make a difference,” added Dempsey. “Go into the office you applied to. Be polite and prove you want the job. Then you’ll have a better chance of getting hired.”