As enrollment at BYU-Idaho grows, student employment has grown, but this has caused some students to be unsatisfied with the service of student employees.
Liz Hokanson, a BYU-I student employment specialist, said there are approximately 5,000 students employed on campus this semester.
Jamie Richardson, a junior majoring in general studies, said she has loved her experience here at BYU-I, but she has mixed feelings about student employment due to some negative experiences.
“They’re doing good in the way that they have order and in the way that they give a lot of people opportunities to work here,” Richardson said.
Studies have shown that students are more likely to stay in college if they work 10 to 15 hours a week than students who do not work, according to the article “Understanding the Working College Student,” by Laura W. Perna from the American Association of University Professors.
“Research also shows increased academic success for students working on rather than off campus,” according to “Understanding the Working College Student.”
Richardson said student employment can be good and bad.
“I don’t claim to know that I know best, but sometimes I wish they would be careful of where they place people who might not be as knowledgeable,” Richardson said.
Richardson said she had a lot of difficulty getting the help she needed when she had to work with Student Support to declare her major and work out finances before going abroad to teach English in China.
“They would say, ‘You have to do this now,’ and I would say, ‘Well, how do I do it?’ and they would respond, ‘You have to figure it out’ and kind of move on,” Richardson said.
Richardson said she felt frustrated because there were things she was not sure how to do throughout the process, and she did not feel like she could get help.
“They just have to keep that order, keep things going,” Richardson said. “They don’t mean to be difficult.”
Richardson said there is sometimes a misconception that student employees are less capable because of their younger age.
“I want to talk to someone who has more knowledge,” Richardson said. “I don’t care if they are 18 or 30.”
Richardson said age does not always reflect capability or experience.
“Always give people the benefit of the doubt,” she said.
Cole Stamper, a sophomore majoring in general studies, said this is his second year working as a customer care specialist in the BYU-Idaho Support Center.
“It’s very easy to work for the university,” he said. “Everyone is very understanding and very nice.”
Stamper said working on campus has been a huge blessing. As a convert to the Church, he said he did not have any support and, following the prompting to come to this university, he arrived with little as far as finances.
“I got here with like $26 in my pocket,” he said. “Thankfully, they hired me within a month of me being here.”
He said his department works to answer incoming calls, chat inquiries through the website and emails, and answer questions ranging from financial aid to I-Learn to track assignments.
“I answer the questions of parents or faculty members or really anyone who has a question for the university,” Stamper said. “When they call, I think most of the time, they get our department.”
Stamper said sometimes calls are transferred but customer care specialists try to listen and diagnose the problems to avoid that.
“You can ask us how to apply for your FAFSA and we can tell you how, but then if you want to know what your specific financial aid will be, we’ll have to get you to a counselor; we have their number,” he said.
Stamper said the department has changed a lot due to the influx of online and on-campus students.
“The workload increases, but we’ve been taking steps to handle that,” Stamper said. “We have a high turnaround rate.”
Stamper said there are only a few faculty members directing their growing team of student employees, which means that faculty members are not always available to answer all the questions, though some students might prefer that.
“Give us a chance,” he said. “Most of the time, we will resolve your issue.”
Candice Hayden, a senior studying English, said she is an employee with the I-Learn 3.0 transition team, but that she has been working for the university even longer.
“Before I worked for I-Learn, I worked for The Crossroads,” Hayden said. “Before I worked for The Crossroads, I worked early morning custodial.”
Hayden said she chose to work at the school for its accessibility.
“I don’t have transportation, so a lot of people aren’t willing to hire me,” Hayden said.
Hayden said she has, on occasion, worked over the phones to help her team.
“I work on the online team, but we get a lot of phone calls because we do have the campus team in our office,” Hayden said.
Hayden said she has experienced working with students that are frustrated or stressed about their particular problems or by the way that they have been helped.
“A lot of us are brand new to the team,” Hayden said. “We are still learning. A lot of us are being trained.”
Hayden said there are a lot of people with different levels of experience and knowledge working together on her team to provide services to the students.
“I understand their frustration because it’s hard to understand that we don’t always have all the knowledge,” Hayden said.