When sophomore Shelby Knowles came to Knox, she thought she would be able to get a work-study job that would give her 10 hours of work each week, as was outlined in her financial aid package.
She quickly realized through communications with the Business Office that there weren’t any jobs available that would give her the hours she was supposed to receive.
“They basically just told me that the jobs weren’t available. I was supposed to just apparently lie down and take that,” she said.
Knowles said that she applied to almost every job on the Job Bank and looked for some jobs close to campus, but was unable to find a place that would hire her for the hours she needed or that would work with her schedule.
“I applied to almost every Job Bank position there was except for the ones that were basically TA positions,” she said.
Like many other incoming freshmen, Knowles struggled to get a campus job during her first year at Knox.
According to Director of Human Resources Gina Zindt, this circumstance is not uncommon for students with work-study awards, as there are a limited number of jobs available on campus.
“Students with work-study awards are given priority in the hiring of student jobs in most campus jobs. … There are only so many student jobs and there are a certain number of students with work-study,” Zindt said.
Zindt explained that as long as they are qualified for the job, students with work-study are supposed to be given priority by supervisors around campus. She said that even with work-study some students are unable to get jobs or don’t want the ones that are open.
“Either they don’t want the jobs that are available, or they don’t want to work or maybe they can’t because classes are harder than they thought they were going to be. There are a million reasons,” she said.
Knowles could have worked two hours a week at Dining Services during her freshman year, but knew that she would only be making about $30 every two weeks.
“If I was told I’m going to have 10 hours, I want 10 hours. I didn’t want to settle for two hours because I had a feeling I would never get more,” she said.
Knowles said that although she knew that campus jobs weren’t available that would grant her the 10 hours of work outlined in her financial aid package, her parents frequently pressured her to find a job.
“There were lots of times last year that I was in tears because I needed to have a job. My parents were asking why I didn’t have a job, my grandparents were asking why I didn’t have a job,” Knowles said.
Before coming to Knox, Knowles worked two full-time jobs and one part-time job to save up for college. She said though she knew she couldn’t work this frequently while also working on school, it was jarring to come to campus and be unemployed.
“It kind of hurts your self confidence a little bit because you’re not being employed and the school told you that you were going to be,” she said.
This year, Knowles found a job working at the front desk of the fitness center. She was able to get the job because a member of her sorority, who was a graduating senior, recommended her to the supervisor.
She secured this job in April of her freshman year and knew she would be working on campus before returning for her sophomore year. She said that this system is damaging for freshmen coming in who need jobs.
“I feel like it’s really unfair for most freshmen coming in who have work-study just because all the jobs are already taken,” she said.
Sophomore Emma Kirk, who works at the C-Store, said that although she has a campus job, she is unable to get her full hours because of the way scheduling works in that particular job.
“Shifts at the C-Store are divided up into two-hour increments. Since I have an odd number of hours, I don’t get my full hours,” Kirk said. “I do think it would help me financially to have an extra hour. It’s not a huge problem for me, but it would be nice.”
Zindt said that her office held a forum about four years ago to remind supervisors of the college’s hiring practices. Mainly, that students with work-study need to be given priority and that students cannot work more than 10 hours per week.
Knowles said that she suggests that students looking for jobs do so through personal connections or talk to supervisors in person like she did. Zindt also recommended looking for jobs in the spring for the upcoming academic year versus over the summer or in the fall.
Knowles wishes the college would limit the number of work-study awards they send out to students or add a disclaimer when giving the awards out so students would not come to campus, as she did, assuming they could definitely work 10 hours a week.
“They just flat out don’t have enough jobs to offer everyone on work-study,” Knowles said. “Parents don’t always understand that; students don’t always understand that.”