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Krystal S. cleans cold bar at end of shift

The cliche college student’s diet is a mixture of  unhealthy snacks such as Ramen noodles with a soda. These items, as cheap as they may be, still cost money. When the difference checks and the cash from home run out, and the last bowl of instant noodles was just consumed, many students turn to the log time easiest way of earning extra income, the part time job.

Morgan Oil Chevron employee rings up customer

Finding work in today’s economy is difficult to say the least, however here in Nacogdoches there would appear to be no shortage of minimal wage, part-time employment for those willing to just apply. Driving up and down University Dr. or North St. there is evidence of this in the multitude of help wanted signs posted. The combination of a healthy number of openings from employers looking for addition help, as well as a large possible work force of students is usually a great match for both parties. While many positive work relationships stem from student employees, there are ups and downs to the overall experience, as well as pointers many local managers would give to students looking to earn a little extra income.

In general, employers appear to have  a positive opinion of student employeesand with many stores reportedly having almost a quarter their employees being some type of student. Jim Hurst, a long time area manager for a group of Subway restaurants, states that student employees are ”Very good. They are becoming mature. The benefits of student employees are that they have a good work ethic, are honest, dependable, and neat with a good smile.” Hurst shows his commitment to keeping  student employees by making an extra effort to work around school schedules and constantly communicating with student workers, to ensure the number of hours they are working is not straining their school work load.

Subway sandwich artist builds order in between doing homework.

Good work ethics and a positive outlook aren’t everything though.  According to managers from Morgan Oil and Polk’s, two of the largest convenience stores/ truck stops in the area, availability is key to landing a part-time job with their stores. While both managers feel that a student’s schedule flexibility is a key factor to what makes them desirable as employees, each has a different perspective on just what type of availability makes a great student worker.

Each manager agrees that having students who can work on the weekends, when the other non-student employees want off, is a reason for hiring college students, however they do not agree as to whether limited weekday hours is a plus or not. One manager believes that because the majority of student employees limit the number of hours they can work, in order to balance work and studying, it is a good situation because other hourly workers wouldn’t have to worry about losing hours and wadges. Also the fact that they are usually young and do not have kids means that most bosses are looking for someone whom working late hours is not an issue for.

A surpriseing fact was found about the effects of having a job in relation to a student’s GPA in a study done by the American Council on Education. In public four year universities, such as SFA, student who worked did not have lower average grade point averages, and in many cases had higher grade point averages than their none working student classmates. From the study it showed that students who did not work had a grade point average of 2.91 while on the other hand students who did work up to 20 hours a week on average had a grade point average of 2.94. These finding go in stark contrast to the notion that students that can dedicate all free time to studies and not have to work will in general maintain higher grades.

One of the main reasons why so many employers, not just limited to local ones, look to students to fill in many of their part-time positions is from a logistics stand point they get more time for their labor hour buck. Student employees in  many cases are willing to work for less than someone who is an employee who works at a part-time position as a sole means of income and does not attend school or have another job. Unfortunately the idea that there is always another student willing to work for the same or sometimes even less thana current employee means that, in regards to seeking wage increases, student employees fight an uphill battle.

In terms of what types of business qualities employers are looking for in students many managers give the same answers as they would for a non-student employee: honesty, respect, good work history, team working skills, and personable behavior. Many managers also emphasize the fact that student employees are flexible in terms of professional mannerism knowledge, and are more often than not, able to learn new abilities quickly, as Jean Urban, local restaurant manager, puts, “If they are lacking in any particular skill, usually they pick up on them in no time.”

Some of the biggest issues with student employees according to one gas station manager boils down to classification, and more specifically, whether or not they are a freshman. This is because, besides not always being fully matured as an adult, freshman also have a higher turnover rate than other student employees. The higher drop out rate for first year students means that managers feel like they are taking a risk by hiring someone who might not even be in the area in a few months, which would cause the need to spend further time and resources training another employee often with little to no notice.

 

Ty'van T. cleans the floors during shift.

Despite the risk though most local management continue to hire SFA students to help fill out their work force, showing that here in the Nacogdoches area students looking for a job can rest assured that an employer is looking for a student.

 

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