When Monica Gonzalez started her academic journey at TMCC, she knew her resume at that point wasn’t going to get her the career she envisioned for her future. “I had no experience working in an office,” she remembers. “In high school, I worked in the restaurant industry—in fast food—and I knew I needed to change that if I wanted to benefit my career.”
A first-generation college student, Gonzalez sought guidance from both the Financial Aid, Scholarships and Student Employment Office and the Career Hub. Because she qualified for work-study, there were several positions at TMCC that could provide Gonzalez with work opportunities that would help her to meet her goals. According to Valerie Lambert, who manages the Student Employment and Work-Study Programs, students who may not be eligible for grants may, nonetheless, qualify for work-study.
“The first step in student employment is filling out the FAFSA and marking that you are interested in work-study,” said Lambert. “Work-study can be awarded to any student that qualifies, traditional or non-traditional. Many departments look for non-traditional students to fill their positions, they want a broad range of experience. Almost every department on campus hires students.”
Students who qualify for work-study can be funded for up to 20 hours of employment per week, and most jobs are between $9–$12 an hour. This is exactly what Gonzalez did, after a quick trip to the TMCC Career Center for help on her resume. She applied to the Welcome Center and Counseling Center. The most difficult part of the process? “It was actually a battle of ‘OK, who do I go in to have the interview first?’ Nothing about the application process was hard. It was more difficult to pick which position to go for, and in which department I wanted to work.”
What you Can Expect as a Student Employee
Gonzalez, who has worked for the Welcome Center and currently works at the Career Hub, said the experience has been invaluable. She’s developed multiple skill sets that will continue to serve her in the future, including time management, organization, communication, attention to detail and computer skills, to name a few. She also said that learning more about where she goes to school has helped her immensely.
“[Working on campus] is a good first step of learning about the college. Because I am a first-generation student, [there was a lot I didn’t know about college.] However, I was able to learn more about the college than I would have otherwise,” she said.
Working on-campus has also helped Gonzalez with the work-school-life balance. “When I first started thinking about working at TMCC, I thought I was going to have to juggle work with my classes, and that I would be overwhelmed. But if anything, [working on campus] made it so much easier. Because I’m working on campus, I can go to my classes and go straight to work after that. That gives me a bunch of time to spare, because I can [get to my classes] in like two minutes.”
She also noted that her work schedule accommodates her class schedule. According to Lambert, this is key for student employees. “Departments must work around students’ school schedules, even if that schedule changes,” she said. “Students are students first.”
Creating Connections for Students
Even though Gonzalez has graduated from TMCC and has transferred to UNR to continue her education, she still works at the Career Hub where she helps students to develop themselves professionally or to find the perfect employment opportunity that can help to build their resumes and experience. “We help to get these students into programs or positions that are opening or an internship... It’s basically helping students to get all this information and vice-versa, from employers to students. It’s all about creating connections—it starts with the connections and we can go on from there.”
Gonzalez, who studies psychology and criminal justice, sees herself working in a career focused on helping others and the community. Her experience as a student worker has been an integral part of that journey. “What better way to learn about your school than to work at your school? [Working on campus] can help you to better prepare yourself for your classes and career. So, it’s a wonderful experience...and not only that, it’s experience and the skills….and you meet lots of people that you will have connections with for the rest of your life when you go on for the rest of your career,” she said.
Interested? The application process is easy. “Students who are interested in working at TMCC will need to create a CareerLink account through the Career Hub to apply for jobs. Once they have done that, they can apply for jobs on the on-line job board. If they are not sure if they have received work-study they can contact the Student Employment Office,” said Lambert. Also, keep in mind: TMCC High School students aren't eligible for work-study but can work as regular student employees on campus.
Given the nature of the pandemic and the probability that your campus job might be one that you do from home, there are special considerations to keep in mind. “As we move forward with the virtual office it is important to remain flexible, have open communication with your supervisor and stay abreast of all of the new technologies being offered, said Lambert. “ Things are changing at a rapid pace, be patient, and stay up to date with all of the information that is currently available.”
For more information, contact the Student Employment Specialist at 775-673-7072 in the Financial Aid, Scholarships and Student Employment Office.