This past week, the University of Maine’s Office of Student Employment (OSE) hosted Student Employment Recognition Week (SERW) in honor of UMaine students who work in addition to taking classes.
According to the OSE webpage, SERW is an annual event that has been held every second week of April since 1989. The National Association of Student Employment Administrators is the organization that created the week, and has implemented it in colleges all across the country.
“Student Employment Recognition Week is really just to recognize and thank all the student employees who work on or off campus because it’s kind of a big deal for students to be attending school and working at the same time,”Job Locator and Development Coordinator of the OSE, Jessica Hickernell, said. “It’s a lot to juggle, so it’s really important we feel, to recognize that hard work and commitment that students have to try to make money and attend school at the same time.”
“This week is the greatest thing to me because a lot of students do work really hard on this campus, and a lot of what goes on around this campus can’t be done without student workers,” Student Administrative Aide of the OSE, Victoria Melber, said. “So to just have a week to recognize, especially their hard work with going to school and working at the same time and making sure everything on this campus is done the way it’s supposed to be and in a very nice and quick manner, is really nice.”
The week started off on Monday during lunch with a “Best Pizza in Town,” competition. At the competition, students were given free samples from Pat’s Pizza, Angelo’s Pizzeria, Freshies Deli, Alltown Market and Papa John’s. All the local restaurants donated to the event, where students could vote for the place that made the best pizza.
The OSE also hosted a banquet on Monday evening. The banquet was held to recognize and honor one undergraduate student, one graduate student and one supervisor as an employee of the year. The nominees are nominated sometime in February, and must have been working for a minimum of six months part-time.
“I thought the banquet we had on Monday was really cool,” Melber said. “It was really nice that people, especially departments can nominate their students to get Student Employee of the Year. I thought it was also the same way that students could nominate their supervisors to get supervisor of the year too, because I think it was a nice extra step to be able to recognize the hard work and achievements that certain students and supervisors do here.”
During the week, students could also participate in a scavenger hunt on campus. If students participated in the scavenger hunt and completed it, they were then entered to win a drawing for two large prizes. The first prize was a gift card to Miguel’s Restaurant in Bangor, while the other was a gift basket from The Avenue apartment complex. All of the prizes that were given out were donated from local businesses in the area.
“The purpose behind it [the scavenger hunt] was that we selected about six or seven different departments on campus where student employees work,” Hickernell said. “They’re departments that I don’t think people think about a lot that are on campus. So it’s really just to get students to those departments and check them out. We just want to get more people to get more awareness of the campus, as well as give away free prizes.”
“To see people’s faces, when we are giving out prizes or food to see that we are recognizing their hard work, is probably the best thing about this week,” Melber said.
Roughly 3,000 students at UMaine are classified as student employees for departments at the university and they work in a diverse amount of fields. The OSE hopes that SERW will help the UMaine community continue to realize all of the hard work that students do to make this campus such a success.
“I think one of the stats we had in 2014, is that there were more student employees than actual regular employees,” Hickernell said. “Our student employees are working in every single department on campus, not just the campus rec, and athletics, and student affairs, but in administrative offices and academic labs, and I think that without that really important work that students are doing in those offices, important functions that the university has, wouldn’t be happening. I think that student employment is a very important foundational piece to the university structure.”