Author: Daniel Wortman, Mount Allison University
If your conference department is anything like ours, then you will agree that we would be lost without our capable, industrious, and relatively inexpensive summer students. Providing student employment and income is one of the biggest benefits ancillary services can offer a campus. These employment opportunities provide our students with real world experience and aid in their own personal growth and development. As managers, it is our responsibility to contribute to our students’ education by ensuring that our opportunities are as enriching as possible.
Conference summer assistants start at a difficult time of year, and it is always a struggle for us to find time to work with our students when we have so many other demands. Here are three things that have been successful for us and for our student staff at Mount Allison.
The hiring process: We have found that an intensive hiring process can take more time, but it is an investment well made. Our applicants must first complete an online application form. Successful applicants are interviewed, carousel style, in groups of three. During the interview the candidate must make a sales pitch to a potential conference client, complete an in-depth questionnaire, answer questions from a traditional interview panel, and participate in a group interview with the other candidates. Even the unsuccessful candidates will have gone through a valuable, real world experience.
Training: A week long orientation provides training on all of our in-house policies and procedures. Throughout the week, additional training sessions in first aid, customer service, smart serve, food safety, and conflict prevention provide our students with certifications that will be valuable to them when they enter the work force after graduation.
Performance review: Individual reviews take time, but they are crucial to students who are still developing their skills and their work ethic. The right opportunity with the right feedback can turn a slow starter into a leader over the course of a summer. End of term exit interviews are equally as important.
Enhancing our students’ post secondary experience through employment opportunities does take more time and effort, but it is an investment that will yield tremendous long term benefits to your department and, more importantly, to your students.
Manager, Ancillary Operations
Mount Allison University