Kay-lynne Taylor’s recruitment last year sparked many changes in the Office of Student Employment and Career Development Center.
Taylor, director of the career development center, is pleased with what was achieved so far.
“We have created a fully functioning, sort of decentralized office for student employment at this university,” Taylor said.
When Taylor came to Western, she gave the Office of Student Employment and Career Development Center a complete makeover.
“It was really a simple initiative: please start to train our students so they are much better prepared in the customer experience arena, help them understand office etiquette, help them understand general protocol, help them understand how to be great, upstanding student employees – preprofessionals – and teach them professionalism,” Taylor said.
Taylor and her team analyzed the existing structures and pulled together a committee.
“It was three students and four professional staff members and they met every Friday last fall and in spring we kicked off E3. E3 is ‘Exemplary, Employment and Experience.’ It is a committee that is a collection of two different kinds of functions: the student employment committee and a steering committee. Those two groups really have come together over the course of a year to start to look at some of the challenge areas that we had in student employment in Missouri Western,” Taylor said.
Brett McKnight, student employment coordinator, helped make these changes happen.
“In the past it was kind of confusing what the role of the Student Employment Office was. It shifted to kind of the glue that holds the process together. Student employment has human resources, financial aid, the Business Office and then our office,” McKnight said.
One of the most important innovations was the introduction of GriffonLink, Western’s student job database.
Here, students have an overview of all available jobs. Before, students had to obtain information about job openings through their professors or fellow students: a practice McKnight was not entirely happy with.
“It wasn’t really a fair process, because there are students who don’t know those types of people, and if you didn’t know where the job was or who was hiring you couldn’t get a job, so it left a lot of students out,” McKnight said.
Taylor and McKnight are happy with the turnout of GriffonLink so far.
“Everything that students have told us we’ve tried to change to make this system much more user friendly and focused on what they need,” Taylor said. “The feedback has been amazing. The number of students we have on GriffonLink now is all our students. We used to have very few students on GriffonLink before – in fact, under 300 when I got here.”
Before students can apply for available jobs, they have to fill out their profile information and upload a resume that needs approval from the Office of Student Employment.
GriffonLink also offers tips for cover letters, job interviews and the possibility to connect one’s profile to LinkedIn. There is also a calendar with upcoming events, such as career and part-time job fairs. It can be accessed either via the Office of Student Employment’s website or GoldLink.
Also new is the Student Employee of the Month recognition program, a prize that is awarded monthly to outstanding student employees.
Centenary Hadsall, a career mentor at the Office of Student Employment and psychology major, was chosen as a student employee of the summer 2014.
“The program is beneficial because it shows the employers notice the hard work you do and they appreciate it,” Hadsall said. “It’s also beneficial because it teaches you that you are improving on your work ethics and skills you’re developing as a professional.”
Alex Atkinson, a student employee at the Office of Admissions and speech communications/public relations major and fellow student employee of the summer 2014, agrees.
“It’s definitely nice to get recognized, and our department, too, because we do a lot of hard work,” Atkinson said.
Atkinson said working on campus has more advantages than the possibility to become part of the student employee recognition program.
“You definitely would rather want to work on-campus. One, they work around your class schedule so it’s really nice knowing it’s never going to be a conflict between class and work. It’s also nice because I always get out before 4:30 p.m. and I rarely have to work on weekends. It’s also right here on campus so you can walk to class and the next building over can be your job so you don’t have to worry about gas money,” Atkinson said.
Besides convenience, Taylor said on-campus jobs can be vital to a successful career.
“There are obviously financial benefits. It is skill setting, it is skill building, it is resume building,” she said.
McKnight said they are currently working on future plans in the center. These changes will include a performance evaluation process along with student employee training and orientation.
“We are planning on improving the process,” McKnight said.