The classic “college student budget” is a universally known aspect of college life where students begin to savor every penny they’ve got. Many students work on campus to help pay for tuition, while others may seek employment to make sure they have enough money to get their daily coffee from the Bistro. Either way, on-campus jobs are essentially always in demand and can make up a huge aspect of a student’s college experience.
Jenna Bellows (‘26) is a student who is currently working at both the Bistro and the mailroom, but also considers themself a “Goudy survivor” as they worked at the dining hall in a previous semester but didn’t stick with it. However, in general they have loved their experience with on-campus jobs here at WU. “The mailroom [is] really calm … I can do homework if I have extra time. All of the guys that work there are super great,” Bellows said. Even while enjoying the tranquility of the mailroom, they also appreciate their job as a cashier at the Bistro, saying that it’s “buzzing always. I always feel like there's commotion, like happy commotion.”
Despite Bellows working two jobs they enjoy here on campus, employment has not been so easy for everyone, especially first-years. Olivia Austin (‘27) expressed that she has been trying to look for a job on campus since she moved in, but to no avail. “It has been hard because the jobs get taken really fast,” she said. Austin explained that the whole application process is “confusing” and that Handshake isn’t much help. “I know about Handshake, but I don't know what to do when I get the job.”
Even after Bellows scored two on-campus jobs, she also admitted that the job application and interview process can be tedious, such as with the many rounds of interviews they completed to work at the Bistro. “The [Bistro] did an application process, and [I] applied, and then from all the applications they selected people to do a group interview.” After that, the coffee shop “selected people to do individual interviews.” A four-step or other similarly rigorous hiring process can make employment difficult. “Finding a job on campus is much harder than people may realize, especially for freshmen,” Lauren Besford (‘27) said. “And a lot of the jobs, especially the higher paying ones, aren’t available for first-year students.”
Obtaining an on-campus job can be a strenuous process, but once a student has a job, they usually enjoy the experience. So how can the application process be better and what are students looking for when applying for jobs? Austin gave her own solution, saying that perhaps it’d be beneficial if the admin explained how to go about finding jobs. “There should definitely be a section during Opening Days that's just like specifically for jobs,” she proposed. Besford also specified exactly what she’s looking for: “I would like if there were more options to work in specific fields that coincide with majors so that students could get more experience in their industry before graduating.”
It goes without saying that providing opportunities for students to work on campus is incredibly beneficial. Besford spelled it out, explaining that “possible work grants … to lower tuition costs, connection with their school or community or even the stability in having a routine and the discipline it takes to have a job” are all examples of how job opportunities can support students here at WU. The application processes could also be made tremendously easier by simply taking a moment to explain to new students how job applications work on campus.
On-campus jobs are wonderful opportunities for students to ensure they can get their sweet treats from the Bistro, help with tuition through work-study, and get involved and develop more connections with the Willamette community. With this extended knowledge and support, Willamette is able to help more students to work on campus and see the importance of doing so. However, jobs must be accessible to students first.