Miami University is taking another step toward normalcy this semester by hiring more students for university jobs.
This comes after a slow fall semester for student employment, when students accounted for less than half as much of the Miami workforce as they typically do, topping out close to 1,300 student workers.
Before the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there were around 3,000 students on the university’s payroll.
“Nothing was exactly routine in the fall,” said David Creamer, Miami’s senior vice president for finance and business services and treasurer.
Creamer said he is pleased to see a rise in student workers at Miami remedy the short-staffing experienced by dining halls and other facilities last semester.
“Our goal will be to have more students working,” Creamer said.
He explained that the low number of student workers last semester was not a result of the hiring freeze that Miami enacted in March over budgetary uncertainties.
“During the late spring and summer, most of the hiring was returned … and that included student hiring,” Creamer said.
While a smaller student workforce can be expected from a diminished on-campus student body, Creamer questioned whether there were other factors keeping the number even smaller, such as students minding their own health.
“A lot of our jobs involve contact,” Creamer said. “Are there concerns about any risk of them contracting the virus due to the nature of the work they’re performing?”
In addition to potential fears of catching COVID-19, Creamer believed last semester’s low student employment was due in large part to Miami’s finance and business services department missing employees that would have been tasked with advertising student positions.
“We were interested in hiring students into those [dining and facilities] roles in the fall,” Creamer said. “We just weren’t as effective at getting that information out because of both employees working remotely and some vacancies we had at the time.”
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First-year Bryce Schreiner can attest to this, saying he had an easy time finding work at Garden Commons dining hall when he sought the opportunity himself.
Schreiner filled out an online application in July and got a prompt response requesting a five-minute phone interview. When he got to campus in September, he had a position as a wellness ambassador waiting for him.
The actual number of students working this semester has yet to be determined, but Creamer believes students, faculty and staff can expect it to be an improvement from fall as the semester progresses.
Sophomore Gabby Burke remained remote in the fall but is coming back to campus with shifts already scheduled at Starbucks in the Shriver Center. She held a job at Withrow Starbucks last school year, but the closure of that location moved her to the Shriver Center.
Burke said Shriver Starbucks, which is licensed by Miami, made it easy to reclaim her old post.
“They expected me to come back,” Burke said.
With students like Burke returning to fill staffing gaps and more students becoming comfortable with the idea of working in the pandemic, Creamer’s goal of increasing student employment has the potential of being met.
“Hopefully, we’ll see people be more comfortable, but right now, we’re all uncertain with the level of the occurrence in our communities,” Creamer said of students deciding to work. “We are seeing these trends of the number of positive cases at a high level, and it's difficult to know whether that will influence some of these decisions.”