Some students like U jobs, while others head off campus

by Amy Horst

Minneapolis provides a variety of job opportunities, but many students said flexible schedules, convenient locations and managers used to working with students attracted them to a University job.

The University employs about 10,000 students, including cashiers and custodians, according to statistics from the University Job Center.

This year, the Job Center has taken new steps to make sure those students have a pleasant experience.

Norma Peterson, University Job Center director of human resources, said the University began offering a class this semester for managers who work with student employees. The class helps them understand and cope with student workers’ unique needs.

“This is oftentimes the first employment environment (first-year students) have been in, so managers have to be mentors,” Peterson said.

Peterson, whose son worked as a parking attendant when she was a University student, said on-campus job managers often understand student employees better than typical managers.

Matt Bowlby, a global studies junior, helps students prepare for foreign exchanges at the Learning Abroad Center.

Bowlby said he heard there were many off-campus jobs available, but the Learning Abroad Center was his target.

“When I first came here as a freshman, this is where I went first,” Bowlby said.

He said his job also suits his career goals.

“I wanted to get a job that has to do with what I want to do in the future,” Bowlby said.

Tim Ruckh, a mechanical engineering senior, works at the St. Paul Gym’s rock climbing wall and the admissions office.

“It’s nice that it’s a convenient location, and it’s a lot more enjoyable to work with students and younger professionals,” Ruckh said.

Peterson said students contribute to a positive work environment.

“As a manager, I really like having student employees around,” Peterson said. “They’re bright and exciting, and they have a lot of energy.”

However, students who work off-campus jobs said their jobs offer the same advantages as on-campus jobs, and sometimes more.

“I like working in a small store because I know who everyone is,” said Tom Wendt, a first-year College of Biological Sciences student who works as a cashier at the Student Book Store in Dinkytown.

Wendt applied for a job in Frontier Hall this year but was told he was not eligible. Wendt said he thinks students with a more conventional, clean-cut look have a better chance of getting a University job. But he said he likes his job now.

Rahima Islam, a Carlson School of Management sophomore who also works at the Student Book Store, said she feels some University jobs are inflexible.

Last year, she was offered a University job as a parking lot attendant and felt she would be pressured to work hours incompatible with her schedule.

Wendt and Islam said their jobs offer flexibility and a good work atmosphere – and they do not have to wear uniforms.

According to statistics from the Job Center, the average student worker earns $9.69 per hour – above the $5.15 minimum wage.

The average University student clerical worker makes $8.93 per hour; in the Twin Cities, that figure is $14.28 per hour.

Students working in food service at the University earn an average of $9.07 per hour, while metro area food service workers make $8.47.