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Learning and earning

Campus jobs are rewarding for students and for RIT

RIT exists for the students. It can also be said that RIT exists because of the students. Some 5,000 students have job on campus, and their efforts help keep RIT running.

"If it weren't for our students, many departments wouldn't be able to function," states Joanne Stuewe, student employment administrator. "We really depend on our students, and they are wonderful."

Her words reverberate around campus.

"Basically, we can't operate our food service without them," says James Bingham, director of an operation with more than 600 student employees.

"They're essential," states Roberta DiNoto, administrative director of Margaret's House, the on-campus daycare center.

"We couldn't get along without them," agrees Lisa Monette, assistant director of admissions.

The student employment office lists an astonishing variety of jobs: shuttle bus driver, tour guide, Zamboni operator, food service worker, receptionist, parking monitor, engineer's helper, computer assistant, sales clerk, tutor, rock climbing leader, lifeguard, costume shop assistant, camcorder operator, graphic design artist, artists' model, hearing aid technician, greenhouse attendant, research assistant, lab technician, television production assistant, mural restorer, Web page programmer, recycling coordinator. Pay ranges from minimum wage to as much as $20 per hour for highly skilled jobs.

Campus jobs have a couple of distinct advantages over employment on the outside. The location is convenient, certainly. Bosses have an understanding of students' complex schedules and are willing to be flexible.

And while the need for cash may send students in search of employment, they often get more than a paycheck out of their campus jobs.

Ashley Edwards, a fourth-year student majoring in film and animation, is a production assistant in the Instructional Television Department at National Technical Institute for the Deaf. Her duties include editing video using some very sophisticated equipment, helping produce instructional videos.

Ashley Edwards
Christian Gray
"I've stayed with it because I'm learning so much," she says. "I've been able to work with clients, and never did I think I would do that in college."

Julian Olivari juggles three jobs. A fourth-year professional photo illustration major, he works as slide librarian for University Publications, on the loss prevention desk at Campus Connections book store, and at the imaging systems management lab in the School of Photographic Arts and Sciences.

The publications job gives him experience working with designers and writers, the Campus Connections work entitles him to a discount on photographic supplies, and working in the lab allows him access to facilities on his own time.

"My future interests include art direction, working for magazines," says Olivari. "I've had hands-on experience that gives me an edge. Plus, working helps me because my major is so expensive."

Olivari's hard work also helped him secure an alumni-supported award for an independent project, "Mapping Male Fashion."

Julian Olivari

Senior Katie Fennessey is studying nutrition - and driving a Zamboni on the side. A member of the women's hockey team, she's worked at the ice rink since freshman year.

"It's a big responsibility," says her boss, ice arena supervisor Stuart Hughes. The Zamboni is a $62,000 machine, and a good ice surface is worth a lot to the skaters.

"I love it," says Fennessey. "Compared to sitting in an office, this is awesome."

Denise Robinson, a second-year management information systems major, made her way to the catering office soon after arriving at RIT. Friends worked there, and she thought she'd like it, too.

Denise Robinson
Ryan Crocker
As a student manager, she's been in charge of the catering staff at events including a reception for Colin Powell, Board of Trustees meetings, and special dinners for as many as 150 people at President Simone's home.

"It's a lot of fun," she says. "I get to meet important people, and I like the idea that student managers have a lot of control. You develop business, management, communications, leadership and organizational skills.

"I study a lot," Robinson says, "and this job gives me a lot of flexibility."

As an only child, Christian Gray didn't have much experience with children when he started working at Margaret's House. He discovered he loves the work.

"I come here and I play," he says. "How can it get any better than that?"

Gray is a new-media major, and someday hopes to make special effects for movies. As it turns out, working in a daycare center may be good background.

"Some of the things kids come up with are so amazing," he says. "Being around them helps recapture your childhood creativity."

Ryan Crocker spent last summer and fall working for Motorola on his second co-op for the company. But as soon as the fifth-year mechanical engineering student got back to RIT, he started leading tours for the admissions office - a job he's had since sophomore year. Of about 35 students who serve as tour guides, Crocker does the most.

"RIT has been great for me," he says. "It's very easy for me to be upbeat when I talk to visitors. I can draw from my own experience."

   Jobs are part of the package

For many students, a job is one component of a financial plan that includes scholarships, grants and loans. Aid packages, prepared for students on an individual basis, bring a college education within the reach of virtually any qualified applicant.

   One of the many sources of funding is the Federal Work-Study Program. Last year, about 2,000 RIT students qualified for this program, which provided nearly $2.4 million from the federal government and RIT as pay to student workers.

   No student is required to get a job, but the Work-Study Program helps makes jobs available for students who want to earn money to pay for college.

   Working can have an unexpected bonus.

   "National studies show that students who work a moderate amount tend to do better academically," says Verna Hazen, director of RIT's financial aid office.

Dan Barry has worked his way up to student coordinator in the parking and transportation division of the campus safety department. That means he's responsible for making sure the campus escort shuttles and mobility-impaired vehicle service shifts are staffed, scheduling a staff of 13. He wears a pager and gets beeped when he's needed - and that can happen any time.

Barry, a fifth-year film and video major, likes the idea that he's providing a needed service.

"You feel good picking up someone in the cold at 2 a.m.," he says.

RIT is a 24/7 operation, so students work any time, any day. Students can work up to 20 hours a week at their campus jobs - which seems a daunting amount of time for a student juggling a typical load of classes and homework.

No wonder RIT students have earned a reputation for being hard workers.

"It seems hard," says Julian Olivari, "but it's really just about time management. It's what I have to do to stay at RIT, and without a degree, nothing I want to do will be possible."

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