Student workers at AU say jobs should be more accessible
Despite the variety of jobs available on campus, being hired for one is difficult
From the Dav to the library front desk, American University offers jobs to students with and without federal work study. However, as student workers reflect on their difficulties finding jobs, many say campus jobs are not as accessible as it might seem.
Despite the variety of jobs offered, though, the biggest issue for many students is finding jobs.
“Since the school year started, my friend and I … went on to the school portal, and we just started applying to all of them, basically. But we didn’t get any back, like, I didn’t get anything back,” said Faith Chung, a sophomore in the School of Communication. “So I was like, ‘okay, wow, the demand for a student job is very, very competitive, a lot more competitive than I thought it would be.’”
Chung now works as a fitness trainer and leader in the fitness center enforcing gym rules. To get her job, Chung had to have a friend recommend her, as her boss was hiring new people through recommendations from students that already worked at the fitness center.
Without knowing someone who works in the fitness center, Chung said she wouldn’t have known about the job opening at all.
Sophomore in the School of Public Affairs Jordyn Habib, who works the desk at the University language tutoring center, said that job postings are confusing to find because the job board is difficult to access and the events to help students find jobs are poorly advertised. She found the job fair helpful, but said it was not publicized well.
The Career Center did not respond to The Eagle’s request for comment.
Sophomore Julianna Davis works the information desk at the Mary Graydon Center with federal work study, where she answers the main phone to the University.
“I’ve heard other classmates of mine talking about how they really want to get a job on campus and it’s just hard to find one … I got hired in the end or middle of August, and that was before the semester had even begun,” Davis said. “I think it’s not the most fair because if people come to campus, they expect that they’ll be able to find a job as they get here, but they spend so much time filling positions over the summer and it’s not … properly publicized.”
Students said those with connections to jobs had an advantage when it came to being considered for a job.
“My roommate actually worked at the Dav this past summer so that’s kind of how I got my in at the Dav, because I did apply for many on campus jobs through federal work study,” said Ginger Matchett, a sophomore in the School of International Service. “And I just either, one, didn’t hear back from them or I didn’t get them and so with the accessibility of that I feel like it was very problematic because I would apply for a bunch of jobs and I just never heard back.”
The Dav only hires students with federal work study and is almost entirely student-run.
Matchett, Davis and Habib all qualify for federal work study.
“I think having more jobs that are available for people who aren’t just federal work study, or more jobs that are able to get more hours would be nice … I make like $200 for every two weeks, which is really not that much at all, especially for living in DC; I could not live off of that,” Habib said.
Davis also noted that while it did take her a long time to find a campus job, the thing she found most difficult was that many of the jobs available to her had unrealistic training requirements that would mean she had to arrive on campus weeks in advance.
Despite their difficulties finding jobs, students said they tend to enjoy their work and manage to balance it with their classes and other commitments.
“A lot of times they emphasize with work study to do your homework during work if you don’t have anything else to do … so I think they’re pretty good with the work,” Habib said. “And they really make sure to not schedule you that much, which I like.”
Matchett noted that she enjoys working at the Dav and said that it has a positive atmosphere. She also said her employers are accommodating to federal work study students.
“Having this job I feel like I’m secure in some of my finances and so that helps alleviate some of my worries and stress,” Matchett said. “It definitely is a challenge to hold a job in addition to classes but I take the approach of [treating] it like one of my classes so then it holds [me] accountable.”