Effective this fall, a new program will recognize Albion College’s stand-out students who are capable of taking on responsibility that may exceed that of ordinary student employment. The Albion Associates program will offer up to 30 supervisory positions, typically for seniors, in various academic and administrative departments. Students will have the opportunity to apply extensive knowledge and experience beyond the classroom, make a meaningful impact on campus and earn up to $6,000 as a bonus.
In November of 2013, John Hille, who spent 15 years at Juniata College in Pennsylvania, took on his position as interim vice president of enrollment management at Albion College. But during his time at Juniata and after the recession in 2008, Hille began an Associates program in hopes of promoting self-help amidst a time of immense financial hardship. At Juniata, the program successfully grew beyond its goal of 30 and now holds 50 associate positions on campus.
Soon after his arrival at Albion in November, Hille began having a series of conversations with interim president Mike Frandsen and Frandsen’s advisory council about the potential of implementing an associates program here at Albion College. Frandsen was fully on board with the idea and began working closely with Hille to draw up plans for the program.
“Talented students help the College run in multiple ways,” Frandsen said in an email announcing the program. “They can do more for us and we can do more for them by offering opportunities for greater responsibilities and more meaningful work experiences.”
Frandsen and Hille began talking with Lisa Locke, director of human resources, to outline exactly what the job descriptions would look like and how a department could submit a proposal for an associate position. Eight proposals will be submitted for approval before the 2014-15 academic year, and Hille hopes they will successfully recruit for these positions this spring.
“We really want this to be handled very much like what someone might encounter in their first professional experience after they graduate,” Locke said. “You will see a job description, you will be asked for a resume, you will experience an interview— all things that some student employment jobs have, but not all.”
Benefits for the College
The Albion Associates program will act as a senior capstone for students who exhibit the ability to take what they’ve learned and apply it to a meaningful position. Albion Associates will work a minimum of 15 hours a week (maximum of 20) at a rate of $10 per hour and will earn between $4,000 and $6,000 for a full academic year’s worth of work.
The program will be budgeted and funded through the college’s general fund. While this could cost the college an additional $180,000 per year, there is a definite need for the work and the program will, no doubt, benefit both the student and the college.
“Mike and I have seen it as an investment because it will increase our capacity significantly,” Hille said. “These eight students will be doing the work equivalent to three full-time employees. That’s a very significant increase in our capabilities.”
Hille even foresees positive implications on enrollment through the program. For example, he hopes to hire one associate who will manage the Briton Ambassadors program (made up of 130-150 volunteers to be lunch buddies and overnight hosts for visiting students). Admissions has had a tough time managing this large amount students, and Hille forsees this process running much more smoothly after a student, who has shown great leadership in this area, steps up to manage this group of students.
Benefits for the Student
The Albion Associates program will not only recognize successful students who have completed meaningful work and offer them a pay increase but work to apply that student’s expertise in one department to a more focused task
“You [may] have this student who may have worked for you for two or three years and they’ve demonstrated the reliability, the understanding of your program from a different perspective than from being an office worker,” Locke said. “[Albion Associates] might be an opportunity for that student then to have what would be very much like a professional experience in that department.”
The program will give students the opportunity to make a direct impact and share these achievements with the trustee committee at the end of an academic year.
“When people go to apply for positions [after graduation], being able to say, not what you did, but what the impact was is a really important career benefit,” Hille said. “We want people, when they walk away, not just to say, ‘OK, I was responsible, I handled tour guides’—no. I want them to come back and say, ‘I improved the quality of the tours as the campus survey said by doing x, y and z.’”
Most importantly, this program will push students, who show great leadership potential, to turn knowledge and work ethic into influential action.
“I think it’s an awesome program,” said Emily Nolan, director of the Carl A. Gerstacker Institute. “Students can’t always articulate the value of what they learn in the classroom and translate it into real world value. I think that Albion Associate experience will really help them understand what they’ve learned in the classroom is so meaningful when they’re applying it to their work.”
So how is this different than an internship?
“An internship has a lot more learning on the job,” Locke said. “This would be a lot more doing what you’ve already learned.”
Each year, Hille hopes that associates will build on the work of associates before them and improve on that work with whatever skills that individual will bring to the table.
“It does take time to build up the right kind of positions,” Hille said. “Every year, we look for better results than we had the year before. We shouldn’t see people come in as caretakers, but instead they come in and improve the process by using their creative skills and by applying anything from their academic disciplines and campus experiences.”
The Albion Associates will ultimately allow students to make their mark on campus. Albion College, as a liberal arts institution, continuously strives to give students the opportunity to turn thought into action and knowledge into real world applications. The program will set the bar high and draw an elite group of students who will strive, not only to make Albion College a better place, but for valuable experience that will afford them a competitive advantage upon graduation.
“If students take on the responsibilities, they’re going to do something that they’re proud of, I can guarantee you,” Hille said. “They will have done something that will have made a major difference for the campus, and it will have a major impact for them.”
Photo by Alexa Hyman