Grand Rapids Community College students have opportunities to earn money with flexible hours built around their classes – and many campus jobs are going unfilled.
It takes many hands to make a campus run smoothly, and Student Employment Services representatives are looking to add more students to GRCC’s workforce.
There are currently about 110 students employed, which is down significantly compared to before the pandemic, said Christopher Allen, associate director of Student Employment Services.
“We are at roughly a third of what we were at in 2019,” he said.
While fewer student jobs are offered by the campus and its partners now than pre-pandemic, there are more openings than in the past. “We are maybe double what we usually have (of open jobs) available,” Allen said. (See on-campus job openings.)
The drop-off in student workers started when the campus went virtual in March 2020. It’s rebounded some since then, Allen said, but it’s not back to where it was.
“If you were going to compare it to 2020, we have picked up,” he said. “We are starting to get more applications.”
To attract students, GRCC recently increased pay rates from $10.25 to $11 per hour, and $11.50 for lifeguard). Allen noted that GRCC student employees are not required to pay FICA taxes, which means a worker earning $11 per hour earns take-home pay comparable to approximately $11.84 elsewhere.
GRCC also helps students find jobs off campus at many locations, which allows students to work more hours than the 28-hour on-campus maximum. There are also work study and non-work study jobs. For work study jobs, a student’s financial aid pays them as a way to pay off loans. For non-work study, the GRCC department the student works for pays the wage.
Flexibility and Work Skills
Nathan Holt has worked as an office assistant at Student Services in Raleigh J. Finkelstein Hall since the beginning of the school year. A GRCC student graduating this spring with an associate degree in business, Holt helps fellow students with financial aid forms, enrollment and testing.
“I was having trouble applying anywhere else because I needed experience in fields I want to go into, so I felt like this is a good one,” said Holt, who currently is enrolled in four classes. “I thought this would be a good start-up.”
He said he’s developed customer service and personal interaction skills– which he sees as helpful for his career. “Speaking skills, when it comes to business, are really important,” he said.
Another benefit of working for GRCC, he said, is that he can prioritize homework and class. He currently works about 18 hours a week. “Flexible hours, that’s a huge help,” he said. “There are a lot of advantages to being a student employee.”
Wen Batzer liked working as a student employee so much that she went on to work for GRCC after graduation. While a student from 2018 to 2021, she worked at the front desk at Student Employment Services and at Student Records.
She is now the student employment coordinator, helping students with resumes and mock interviews. She also connects with outside employers looking to hire students.
Working for the college allowed her to focus on school and learn even more about college than she would have otherwise, she said. She plans to continue while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in communications at Grand Valley State University.
“Everyone was really nice and allowed a lot of flexibility with jobs and the work,” she said. “It was really interesting and informative to learn how the school works behind the scenes, because it made being a student a lot easier.”
Now, with other students, she can relate to their needs and goals.
“We really like to put the emphasis on that they are students first,” she said.
This story was written and photographed by Erin Albanese of the School News Network.