Student employment helps develop transferable skills beyond a paycheck, UI officials say

While only 25 percent of student employees work for one of the University of Iowa’s undergraduate colleges, these students are learning transferable skills for the future.


Gaoyuan Pan

The Carver College of Medicine is pictured on April 4, 2018.

Sarah Altemeier, News Reporter

While receiving a paycheck at the end of the week is a major incentive for many students to hold a job in college, University of Iowa employers say that students often gain a lot more than money.

Josh Frahm, associate director of Student Employment Programs, said that students also learn transferable skills such as how to structure day-to-day life, social development, and time management and organization.

“From my perspective, being in the career center, we focus on the career development aspect of student employment a lot,” Frahm said. “We do a lot of analysis and research on what’s out there as far as what future employers are looking for, and much of what they are looking for are the transferable skills that they can learn from basically any student job on campus.”

While the UI Carver College of Medicine provides the greatest number of undergraduate student jobs — 517 different positions to apply for — Frahm believes that the different number of job opportunities in each college reflects the different needs of various departments and the number of students in each.

“I don’t think there is a big difference in how [student employment] is approached in different colleges,” Frahm said. “With medicine and health care, there’s a big need at the hospital for student workers and volunteers, and those jobs seem to be very popular. But, I think no matter what college you’re looking at, there’s a good amount of student jobs available there.”

The College of Liberal Arts and Sciences employs the second largest number of students — 406.

Kari Gates, liberal-arts college director of human resources, said the university is getting better at finding resources it can use to seek out students as time progresses through helpful aids such as the Handshake website.

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“Many of the student roles that we provide are positions we would consider leadership positions and crucial to the success of the college and campus,” Gates said. “I would say that the [liberal-arts college] is very proud to employ a talented and successful student workforce. We are trying to be cognizant of the fact that we have such a talented and strong student population here.”

One student that takes advantage of student jobs in the liberal-arts college is UI student Hallie Lartius, who holds three student jobs. She’s an intern in communications at the UI Office of Sustainability, a tutor at the student-athlete center, and communications director of UI Student Government.

Lartius loves each of her jobs, she said, and has found that she uses different skills in all three. In her work at the Office of Sustainability, Lartius helped kick-start an initiative called the Underrepresented Students in Sustainability Mentoring Program.

“I am always innovating, especially now that I am focusing on diversity — I really get to choose my own projects, and from the bottom up, design, control, and make it happen and see all the effects,” Lartius said.

In tutoring, she developed her teaching skills and the ability to understand and listen to other people’s experiences. As a director of communications, Lartius said she improved her leadership, organizing, and managing skills. She hopes to become a social worker in the future, Lartius said.

“The only advice I can give is to just go for it,” Lartius said. “You never know how much it’s going to benefit you. I don’t think I went into my job at the Office of Sustainability knowing that it was going to help me find other jobs or even just build my confidence to work with people on campus. Find opportunities and go for them.”

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