The University of Maine fosters the academic, personal and professional growth of students. Lectures, labs and assignments are all tools which facilitate this growth. An often overlooked facet of university life that is central to academic and community enrichment is student employment. Although many might categorize student employment solely as a financial means to an end, there are numerous opportunities which counter this narrative.
Many university jobs are created with student advancement in mind. Some students are employed in jobs which pertain directly to their major, giving them experience in their career and a chance to practice their professional skills. Some work in photography, others in a lab, and the most adventurous lead mountaineering trips for MaineBound. This kind of employment bolsters the university community, allows students to interact with like-minded peers and gives them firsthand experience which enhances resumes and their confidence in their discipline.
As a second-year environmental science major, Samantha Lang expands her education for her discipline through working on the university’s Rogers Farm.
“This job involves a lot more hands-on work, and is more of a learning experience than other jobs I have had in the past,” Lang said. “ I have been working on farms for most of my life, but Rogers Farm has helped me explore different aspects of what farming truly is.”
Lang works as a UMaine Student Specialist, which entails servicing farm equipment and completing odd jobs. Lang stresses the importance of being employed in a field which pertains to her major.
“…Employers understand that we are still students as well. This allows for flexible work hours, which is extremely helpful seeing as sometimes big assignments pop up that you just need a little bit more time to finish,” Lang said.
Another important facet of student employment is that it is student-oriented. Employers understand the demands of classwork and are prepared to help students navigate through those challenges.
Student employment’s ability to cultivate a strong sense of community is largely demonstrated within jobs where students work with their peers. Many also get to interact with adults who have extensive experience in their field, something that is an invaluable learning exercise. Nicholas Barter, an employee for UMaine football, knows the value of community-based employment.
“It’s good for students in my kind of role to have something where they can build relationships with coaches where they can move on and you still have a relationship built up with them,” Barter said.
Through his employment at UMaine football, Barter has learned skills which cannot be taught in a classroom.
“My role is helping on the field with drills, directly affiliated with the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks. Prior to this semester I was mainly on a lift filming from the endzone,” Barter stated.
Sports employment also allows for travel opportunities. Barter recently attended UMaine’s Pro Day in Gorham, Maine, where ten UMaine football student-athletes performed for NFL scouts. Next fall, he will be traveling with the team to Miami, North Dakota, and various other locations for games.
For students who are unsure of the career path they want to take or which facet of their major they want to explore, on-campus jobs can help them figure that out. Pierce Varneke, a second-year student studying marine science with concentrations in fisheries and statistics, is a graduate research assistant studying jellyfish for a literature review. Through this job, Varneke is discovering more things about his major which he has interest in.
“This job is directly related to my major as I am continuously reading about gelatinous zooplankton…and that involves reading beyond just my target of distribution but also about the identification, life cycle, reproduction, economic impact, anthropogenic causes, envenomations and treatments for these envenomations. Even though most of those topics are not relevant to my actual work, I gain more and more knowledge about ctenophores, siphonophores, cubozoans and true jellyfish,” Varneke stated. “I think in the future I would like to continue my study of jellyfish long term due to my exposure.”
Varneke understands the importance of his employment when trying to figure out his interests within his major.
“I find it fulfilling for me as it is giving my personal direction on what I want to do with the major,” Varneke said.
UMaine has employment opportunities for students of all interests. The university uses the online CareerLink system to post jobs. More information can be found at https://umaine.edu/studemp/.