With a population of over 35,000 students, CSUN is a veritable town unto itself—a town that requires a workforce to run smoothly.
CSUN students represent a significant portion of that workforce, filling hundreds of jobs across campus, from the Matador Bookstore to the Student Recreation Center to the Oviatt Library.
“The USU alone employs 288 students at last count,” said Kristen Pichler, human resources officer for the University Student Union.
One of three auxiliary non-profit organizations on campus that also includes The University Corporation and Associated Students, the USU works to expand the college experience through various programs, employment and involvement opportunities.
Students at the USU work as customer service attendants, building managers, meeting room attendants, and in various positions at the Student Recreation Center, among others, Pichler said.
CSUN’s Career Center cites that among the benefits of working on campus are mentoring and management opportunities, convenience, variety and summer employment opportunities.
Students who work on campus report a number of additional benefits.
“The hours are flexible. My boss is really understanding about school demands, and he works with our schedules,” said Dulce Angel, a double major in sociology and Chicana/o studies senior and an event staff supervisor for the athletics department.
Angel has worked off campus in the past and said, “It’s a completely different ball game.”
Dealing with a long commute, traffic, longer work hours, a less flexible schedule and less understanding employers were all disadvantages, she said.
With the grand opening of the new SRC in January, around 150 new student jobs were added on campus, according to Kaila Lavin, membership services coordinator at the SRC, who oversees 42 student staff members.
“Almost all of our staff members are students,” Lavin said. The only non-student positions at the Center are those that require specialized skills, such as group exercise instructors, she added.
“There were so many applicants for jobs at the Student Recreation Center that we conducted a hiring fair. It was almost like a speed dating event, with five to six people at a table,” Lavin said.
Each candidate had only a few minutes to highlight their talents and skills, Lavin added, making it especially challenging.
Job scarcity coupled with high unemployment and the current economic situation mean that students are challenged with developing a competitive edge.
“We tell students that we receive a lot of applications, and ask them to really think about what qualities they can bring in,” Pichler said.
“We’re really looking for students who are not just simply looking to earn money. We’re looking for those who are trying to gain work experience, and soft skills—how to work with people. What I hope for them (students) is that they gain knowledge and skills needed for their careers beyond CSUN,” Pichler said.
Lavin also spoke of the kinds of qualities she looks for in prospective student employees.
“In my department my students are the face of the recreation center. We’re looking for people with a positive attitude who are energetic and knowledgeable about a magnitude of information,” Lavin said.
She added that when visitors enter the SRC they often have many questions, which membership service employees must be able to answer.
Along with the perks of working on campus—like priority registration, according to Pat Ordonez, a senior majoring in sociology, students report that they are better able to manage a hectic school schedule with work when they are employed on site.
“Off campus I’m more detached from school,” Ordonez said. “My priorities are school today, work tomorrow.”
Ordonez has two jobs on campus, one as a student assistant in the math department and as a supplemental instruction leader at the Learning Resource Center. She enjoys working on campus and said it gives her a more authentic college experience.
“Working on campus gives me a sense of community. It feels more integrated. It’s fun and less stressful.”
To search for jobs with the University, Associated Students, the University Student Union or The University Corporation, visit CSUN’s Office of Human Resources website. Students are generally allowed to work up to 20 hours per week during the academic year, subject to minimum GPA requirements.