Maximizing the contributions of student assistants

Front desks are often managed by student workers. To provide a great first impression and excellent service, those students may need more training and more delineated responsibilities than they typically receive. That’s the theory driving DePaul University’s Welcome Center’s tiered student assistant program.

“These students are really our assistants--the Robins to our Batman,” said Cynthia Delgadillo, Assistant Director, Transfer Admission and the Adult Enrollment Center. “Every office has a student or two, but our office has more. They’re our front line.”

Tiers and training

The Welcome Center has developed ways to utilize the student staff to increase enrollment numbers, managed day to day projects and serve customers.

“We have a small transfer staff, so we really do look to our student staff to help us meet reporting deadlines,” Delgadillo said. They have four different tiers: EDGE employees (non-hourly, reporting job developing interview skills), level one and level two student assistants, as well as interns, with increasing responsibilities and pay. The office employs 18 EDGE program students, 16 student assistants and 7 interns.

“We have a funnel to help students move up in capacity from assistants to interns, which means higher pay, project-based positions, as opposed to just answering phones,” Delgadillo said. “Interns may even do presentations.”

Budgeting and hiring

Delgadillo advises connecting with your institution’s career/student employment center for guidance about how to post your open positions. Utilizing certain labels and descriptors can help you attract qualified students. For example, because of the schedule needs of her office, certain majors aren’t the right fit. Their job opening posts have a series of qualifying questions so students don’t waste their time applying if they aren’t qualified.

In addition, the city of Chicago is increasing minimum wage, so her office may need to make staffing changes to stay on budget.

She and Nagieh Omer, Assistant Director, Division of Enrollment Management and Marketing, will present on “The Robins to our Batman” at this year’s AACRAO Technology and Transfer Conference, July 9-11 in New Orleans. “We’ll talk about budgeting, allocation of funds, and the tiered system in our presentation,” Delgadillo said. Register now.