There are 35% fewer student employees working for the Kent campus this semester compared to a typical semester.
Given Kent’s stance on keeping COVID-19 from spreading, many students are living off campus or have a majority of online classes that keep them from using campus facilities as much. Thus, the number of needed student employees has reduced, said Keith Smith, the associate director for Career Exploration and Development services.
“Fall hiring through my office has 1,618 student employees so far, but typically we are around 2,500 at this point in the semester. Overall hiring is just less this year with everything going on,” Smith said.
Nonetheless, Smith and his coworkers are coming up with strategies to provide more jobs and opportunities for students. Specifically, they are finding ways to get work done virtually, and after a job has been offered all work forms are sent virtually to keep students safe, Smith said.
“Prior to COVID, students had to work on campus. A student couldn’t be living in Texas and work for us. You had to be working on sight. So that was one of the biggest changes because now we have students working in Nevada and California and all over even though they can’t physically come into my office,” Smith said.
Nicky Hoover, a sophomore visual communication design major at Kent, experienced the shift from in-person work to online work when she was sent home along with most Kent students last semester, and appreciated the way the university worked with her as a student employee.
“I was working for Spark and SMS when quarantine hit, and when we were all sent home the university actually kept all of the student employees on the payroll. Spark had a couple of work opportunities and I was able to do some but was still paid for the full 12 hours a week that I had been working on campus regardless of what I was able to get done,” Hoover said.
Kent State made the decision to continue paying its student employees no matter how much work they were able to complete through the end of the spring 2020 semester in an effort to ease the transition, Smith said.
“We wanted to reduce the financial impact that students were facing because it was big, so the university committed to pay students through the end of the semester,” Smith said.
Hoover said the continued pay was “really, really helpful.”
“I remember I got home and all of my friends were scrambling to find a job in my town, which wasn’t great because we were in the middle of a health crisis and everyone was worried about getting a job,” Hoover said.
With the same goal in mind to help students out as much as possible, Smith and his coworkers plan to continue expanding job opportunities for student employees on campus and virtually for as long as the pandemic lasts, Smith said.
Josie Thomas covers jobs and money. Contact her at email@example.com.
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