National Student Employment Week 2024

National Student Employment Week is the second week of April each year. This week is dedicated to raising awareness of the positive impact that student employment has on students and the university and to recognize their unique and invaluable contributions. Technology Services is just one of the many organizations across the university that benefits from student workers. 

We employ students throughout the organization in many different roles. A few teams from Tech Services shared their thoughts about working with students over the years. 

What types of roles do you hire students for, and what skills do these students gain?

ICS Team: Instructional Computing Services (ICS) provides reliable solutions for academic computing needs, from everyday services like internet access and printing to instructional classrooms. We hire Site Consultants, Operations Assistants, and Tech Crew. Site Consultants provide basic technical troubleshooting and customer service to clients at our computer lab facilities. Student Managers provide direct support and help with managing the ICS student work force, assisting with interviewing, hiring, training, and processing the student workers alongside other tasks. Tech crew provide support and help with the physical and desktop management of the computers we support. 

Our student employees enhance their communication skills through interaction with team members, full-time staff, instructors, and faculty. They regularly exercise problem solving and customer service skills. Effective teamwork within the group necessitates strong communication and collaboration skills. Tech Crew employees further develop their skills through studying documentation, shadowing and mentorship with full-time staff, hands-on experience with hardware and software, and utilizing tools and systems to manage endpoints. Many of our former Tech Services student employees are working for Tech Services full time now, or at other IT organizations on campus. 

Tech Services Help Desk: At our Help Desk, we hire students to handle initial support requests. They assist the campus community via phone, email, and walk-ins, providing entry-level support for various services. They troubleshoot issues for services such as Zoom, Canvas, Wi-Fi, and classroom AV equipment, demonstrating impressive versatility. This role serves as an excellent opportunity for students, acting as a valuable addition to their resumes. Beyond acquiring extensive knowledge in IT support and customer service, our student employees benefit from a strong emphasis on developing essential skills such as accountability, reliability, and the art of giving and receiving feedback. These skills are invaluable for their future professional endeavors. 

Communications and Marketing: The Communications and Marketing Team has historically hired student writers and student graphic designers. We’re excited to hire a student videographer/editor for the 2024-2025 academic year. 

We pair a student worker with a full-time employee that engages in the same type of work they’re hired to do. We give students increasing responsibilities as the year progresses with the goal of stretching their skillsets while being supported by professionals. Our student writers have learned how to write for websites, how to leverage the inverted pyramid to convey important information, they’ve honed their interview skills, and how to communicate in a professional setting. Our graphic design student workers have learned how to use new software, to design within brand guidelines, and how to collaborate with a team to achieve a desired outcome. 

When we hire students, we give them a lot of autonomy. We trust them and allow them to work with great flexibility; in return they promise to respect deadlines and deliver on time. They have consistently delivered, and I appreciate that. 

What unique value do student workers bring to the office?

ICS Team: ICS manages over 1000 desktops in more than 70 locations with a team of 5 full-time employees. Students are the boots on the ground that let us provide quality services to our sprawling campus. Because most of our customers are students, having student employees provide on-site support is extremely beneficial. The student workers are living the same experience of trying to use technology on campus. They understand what their fellow students need to do and how classes are using technology today in a way that allows them to provide excellent support in the labs. The student perspective also allows us to tailor our services to student needs. We want our services to be useful to students, and having student employees allows us to really understand how students interact with technology today and how student needs have changed since we were students. 

Student workers are an invaluable part of our institution. They bring fresh perspectives, innovative ideas, and energy to the workplace. Their dedication to balancing academics with work responsibilities is commendable. They are not just students, but also contributors to the growth and success of our operation. Their efforts often go unnoticed, but they are integral to our operation by providing support and solutions to our customers. 

Tech Services Help Desk: Leveraging students as our primary support resource enables our full-time staff to concentrate on more complex responsibilities and projects within both the Help Desk and Technology Services. Speaking on behalf of the entire Help Desk team, I can confidently attest that our student employees fill our environment with energy and vibrancy. We operate like a close-knit family, and we genuinely value the contributions and positivity that our student team members bring to our work. We understand and respect that their academic commitments take precedence. Their short-term presence brings fresh perspectives and vitality to our team. Over time, we’ve gained valuable insights from working with a diverse range of student colleagues, creating an atmosphere of shared learning and development. It’s genuinely fulfilling to witness their achievements and hear about the exciting career paths they embark on before graduating. 

I’m continually impressed by the dedication of our student workers. Balancing academic studies, extracurricular commitments, and the demands of a challenging job like the Help Desk requires exceptional multitasking skills and resilience. From handling back-to-back phone calls to managing incoming tickets and walk-ins, they navigate stressful situations with remarkable composure. It’s evident that the Help Desk role isn’t for everyone, and we deeply appreciate the dedication and excellence our student employees consistently demonstrate. 

Communications and Marketing: I love that over the years our student workers have brought energy to their roles. They’re up to date on some of the latest “tricks of the trade,” per se. They know about new skills, new opportunities to reach the campus community and they challenge our thinking. As much as we try to help them grow, they help stretch us in our skills and in our thinking. Our student workers see the world through a different lens than we do, both because of their age and because of their role at the University. They’re able to share ideas with us that are new, fresh, and help cut through the noise of a student’s everyday life. 

As much as we aim to help them develop their skills, they also help us hone ours, and a value can’t be placed on that. 

A Word from a Few Student Employees

Michael Khalaf, Senior in Information Sciences, works as an ICS Technology Crew IT Consultant and ICS Lab Site Consultant. Michael says, “My experiences in information technology are an overture to a career in information security. I’m working to become a security professional in consulting, cyber defense, and cyber warfare & intelligence. I’m training academically, professionally and through employment guidance to become versatile across various networking and security domains. The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign is home to some of the most sophisticated IT and networking infrastructure layouts one can find. Seeing this firsthand allows me to understand it clearly in a live environment where I also learn from professionals in the higher education industry.” 

Kelsey Devereux, Senior in Finance and Information Systems, works as a Consultant at the Technology Services Help Desk. Kelsey says, “After graduating, I will become a full-time Risk & Regulatory Consultant at PwC in Chicago! From this role at Tech Services, I have learned so much about problem solving, most importantly, how asking the right questions can help solve a problem much more efficiently. I think that this position has helped prepare me for a career in consulting because it has forced me to take creative approaches when dealing with complex issues.” 

Mag Shou, Senior in Communications with a Minor in Media, Public Relations, and Health Administration, works as a Student Writer for the Technology Services Communications and Marketing Team. Mag says, “Working in Tech Services is very interesting to me. First, it enhances my perceptiveness and creativity. I get to think about what content students would like to see, which helps me better understand the audience’s perspectives. Additionally, it improves my writing and logical skills. The articles I write undergo continuous revisions, allowing me to identify areas for improvement. Last, working in Tech Services enhances my planning abilities. I need to balance my time between work, study, and personal life, and I must carefully schedule deadlines for each project and allocate resources effectively. The aspect of my job that I cherish the most is the profound sense of accomplishment it brings. Delving deep into a topic, refining my article through numerous revisions, and finally publishing it on a website fills me with immense joy.”  

This semester, Tech Services has employed over 100+ student workers, recognizing the positive impact this partnership has on both the student and the organization.