Debra Born, News Editor
Student employees are entering a new season of campus employment at Utica College. The Center for Career and Professional Development, which recently moved to 115 Hubbard Hall, initiated the changes as a way to connect more students with job opportunities.
One of the major changes was the creation of the Professional Readiness Employment Program (PREP), which works to provide more students with employment opportunities. The catch? A limited budget, which means that students are restricted in the number of hours they can work.
There are two levels of PREP – positions, which pay $12.10 per hour, and internships, which pay $13.10 per hour. Almost all students must be eligible for Federal Work Study to obtain a campus position. PREP hours can range from 7-15 per week, and PREP students are unable to work elsewhere in the Campus Employment Program.
PREP is currently in pilot phase but offices and departments applied to be selected as a PREP site.
Changes are effective immediately and the ones that concern students the most is a restriction on the number of work hours and opportunities each student is allowed. This fall, PREP-eligible students are only allowed to work one position and cannot exceed budgeted hours.
“Once a student’s FWS funding or institutional funding is reached, the student must cease employment for the year,” said Halina Lotyczewski, director of The Center for Career and Professional Development. “This is an important change, and allows the college to more equitably distribute its campus employment budget to as many students as possible and give them the opportunity to work.”
PREP guides students through a streamlined application process. Both PREP opportunities and other positions on campus are posted on a new applicant pool model. Rather than applying to one position at a time, students apply to a pool. They answer questions about their availability, interests and skills and have the option of selecting their top three positions of interest.
During employment, students are required to attend a resume workshop to learn how to document their new experiences and skills.
Supervisors can perform queries and filter the portal, based on skills and interests to find students that would be a good fit for their positions and work settings.
The new regulations were sent over email last week to student employee supervisors. Most supervisors notified their student employees of the basics of PREP but several students also expressed confusion over some of the new regulations.
PREP has its perks, such as the streamlined application process and a higher hourly wage, but some students are less than thrilled about the pay budget being tightened.
“I personally don’t like it,” said Brian Huyghue, a first-year graduate student in the cybersecurity program.
Huyghue has held several on-campus positions during his years at UC. He currently drives the shuttle van and works in the library, positions that he has held for over a year.
Huyghue is starting a new position this week as a graduate assistant for the ECJS Building. The new position will mean that Huyghue has to cut both his library and his shuttle job.
“I would have preferred to do at least the shuttle or the library with the GA position, but I can’t,” he said.
Huyghue’s hours went down 500 hours for the year, which will impact his annual income.
“My pay will go down because of the limited hours and because I can only work one job,” he said. “It definitely makes you tempted to work off-campus.”
Senior Mattie Cutler works at the Information Desk at the UC library. She said that previously, if she worked more hours than planned, the office would negotiate with student employment to increase the budget.
“Now I can’t go over it,” she said.
Cutler has been working at the front desk of the library for three years and said she loves her job. She plans to keep her on-campus position. She said she wanted to apply for the library’s intern position for more hours and higher pay but it is now no longer offered because of budget cuts.
“I plan to just budget my hours and hope for the best,” Cutler said.
Dority Addai-Mensah is a fifth-year student in the nursing program and has been working at the UC Athletic Office for three years. Her responsibilities include assisting students and visitors with questions at the front desk and helping in games. She said she is glad the hours are limited.
“I don’t like having so many hours because I have such a busy schedule and also work off-campus,” she stated.
Addai-Mensah said she appreciates the fact that she was not required to re-submit a detailed, formal application this semester for the same position she held last term.
“I think the pre-application process is better so students don’t have to go through the process of reapplying through the portal,” Addai-Mensah said. “Most of the time, supervisors want the same people next semester because they know their work ethic.”
Work studies are divided on whether the changes are beneficial or disadvantageous.
“I think it’s unfair because I feel like it’s like the school playing with you,” Cutler said. “They give the opportunity to you, but there’s restrictions.”
Can the hour reduction and limit to campus positions be fixed? Huyghue said he thinks so.
“Maybe an increase of jobs would fix the problem,” he said.
Huyghue also said he thinks that students with two campus positions should be paid through work study funding for one job and through UC payroll for another job.
“I do believe that everyone should have the opportunity to work at least one job.”
However, as work studies weigh the benefits and disadvantages of PREP, funding is becoming available to allow more students an opportunity to experience campus employment.
“Research shows that when students are employed, they are better engaged with the institution, are retained better and of course, they are building experience that they can include on their resumes, which support post-graduate outcomes,” Lotyczewski said.
UC’s employment opportunities allow students the convenience of earning money on campus, making connections and learning new skills. The Center for Career and Professional Development has a vision for the employment changes. “The overarching goal was to provide as much opportunity to as many students as possible, especially students with documented financial need,” Lotyczewski said. “That required us to spread out the funding and create a more equitable Campus Employment program.”