Troy Kase, director of the Career and Internship Center, is one of the leaders over the new student employee training sessions this year.
“It’s all a part of the initiative to increase the professionalism of student employment on campus,” said Kase.
President Mathew Johnson and his administration are the leadership team that has taken the initiative to roll out the student employee training session; however, increasing the professionalism of student employment is an idea that has been talked about for years before President Johnson arrived, according to Kase.
The importance of these training sessions is intended to go beyond Albion College.
“What we hope to do is to have students in positions that they’re doing real professional work, and when you do real professional work, you are developing skills: the communication skills, the problem solving skills, technology skills. We know that employers are looking for these skills, and once students have these skills they are ideally more marketable to employers,” said Kase.
The training sessions try to cover a multitude of topics starting with how to apply for jobs and then moving into more specific skills as mentioned before.
“We are talking about general professional etiquette, professional attire, communication, those basic things one would expect out of a professional,” said Kase. “We talk about making the most out of your positions. We talk about career goals and making the connection between the student’s position and their career goals. If we do our job, there will be no more ‘meaningless jobs’ or ‘do-nothing jobs.”
Kase is accompanied in leading the training sessions by Elena Mourad, Montclair, Va. junior and a student employee at the Career and Internship Center. She takes the training sessions herself and then takes time out to host training sessions for other students who are unable to make the training sessions led by Troy Kase.
“I think the training is kind of complicated because it seems to most people like it’s not very useful. Especially like the first module, we would get a lot of feedback saying, ‘Why do I need this? My job doesn’t have anything to do with being professional,’” said Mourad.
Mourad likes to keep the end goal of increasing professional development in mind when participation and faith in the training are low among students.
“I think the thing to remember for the training modules is that all we are trying to do is equip people to be able to work in the professional world, and so it might not seem relevant now, but what we are doing now is hoping to help you in the future, which is what this is all about,” said Mourad.
One of the largest goals of student employee training is bringing awareness to the skills students are gaining in their jobs and how these skills can be applicable elsewhere.
“I think that especially these recent modules that we are doing will help students realize that what we are doing here is not just to pass the time, it’s really going to help them after they graduate so that’s another big thing,” said Mourad.
Student feedback for the trainings has been both positive and negative. This feedback gives Mourad and Kase things to work with and think about moving forward.
“In all honesty, the student employee training has been a bit of an inconvenience for me,” said Kayla Redmond, Jackson senior. “I am a commuter, so my schedule is different from a lot of other students. By 4 p.m., which is the meeting time, I’m either unable to participate or too tired to actively engage in the training. Alternative meeting times have been offered, which is nice, but it is still not the most convenient for my schedule.”
Redmond has been able to take something away from the training sessions despite obstacles that come with having an already busy schedule.
“I’ve learned that there are many different ways to apply the skills you’ve learned and developed in your student employee positions to any future employment opportunities that you may have. Sometimes you have to get creative, as these ways are not always obvious,” said Redmond. “For example, I do a lot of scanning in my current position. While scanning might not be a part of my next job, those skills will make it easier for me to handle any tedious tasks that I may be required to complete.”
As a seasoned student employee, Redmond does feel some growing pains when it comes to implementing a new approach to her job.
“I’ve already developed a routine and formed relationships with my supervisors, so to implement everything that has been discussed in the training would mean changing how I approach and view my job,” said Redmond. “That’s not to say that I don’t behave professionally, but I feel that I’ve developed a certain level of trust with the people that I work with that doesn’t require me to maintain the same level of professionalism that’s being discussed in these training sessions.”
As a student with a busy schedule, Redmond appreciates the leniency she gets in her job and doesn’t want that to be taken away too much.
“They have been extremely flexible and understanding with my schedule, which is part of why I love working with them. With that being said, I think that these trainings could be extremely beneficial for students who are just starting off in their student employee positions. Having goals and expectations to follow can be very helpful when you’re stepping into something new,” said Redmond.