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Project Title:Northwest Missouri State University Student Employment Career Pathing ProgramInstitution Name:Northwest Missouri State University Innovation Category:Student Success Project Director:Paula McLain, Coordinator of Student EmploymentContact Information:(660) 562-1140, pmclain@nwmissouri.eduWebsite:http://www.nwmissouri.edu/hr/student/index.htm
Project Description:


The Career Pathing Program is a structured student employee earn and learn development program that provides opportunities for advancement, training and development, performance-based evaluations, affordability of a post-secondary education and encourages retention and degree completion through a comprehensive student experience.  The program is administered through the Student Employment Program as a result of compiled research and satisfaction survey responses from student employee feedback.  The University finances the program curriculum costs of approximately $14,000 a year, as well as the increased wage rate differences which can vary based upon participation.  Student employees develop professional competencies that enhance their current position experiences, as well as future career pathways.  


         Promote opportunities for student employees to build relations and basic skills that enhance current employment, as well as future career pathways, through participation in personal and professional development and encourage retention and completion of degrees through a comprehensive student experience. 

·        Encourage continual feedback to student employees for personal and professional development through annual face-to-face performance-based evaluations conducted by immediate supervisors. 

·        Provide student employees with the opportunity for advancement in pay which assists with the affordability of a post-secondary education, as well as increased responsibility through completion of program criteria. 

·        Increase student employee overall satisfaction of the student employment experience reflected in annual student employment satisfaction survey results. 



The decision to implement the Career Pathing Program for student employees involved reengineering the entire Student Employment Program.  The first step implemented in the process was the administration of a Student Employee Satisfaction Survey in the fall 2003.  The Student Employee Satisfaction Survey was created by the Office of Human Resources along with the assistance of undergraduate students and student employment supervisors.  The survey was implemented to enhance student employment by acquiring insight into the attitudes and opinions of current on-campus student employees.  The instrument was initially distributed by mail and incurred photocopy expense and envelope purchase for 1,200 surveys.  Participants were encouraged to participate by being entered into a drawing to receive one of five $20.00 gift certificates from Barnes and Noble.  The survey is now distributed by email to all student employees on campus who have an active assignment defined on the electronic hiring system (Banner). The electronic distribution of the survey is done at no expense.  Remark Web Survey Software 5.0 is used to administer the survey and its results.  The software is historically used by the Office of Institutional Research at Northwest to administer over 50 surveys a year and was not required as a new purchase for this event. Student employees are compensated for their time to complete the survey.  Supervisors are encouraged to allow students to complete the survey while at work in hopes of increasing participation in the survey.   


Research was then conducted in spring 2004 by undergraduate students, in a Marketing Research class, in an effort to examine other college and university student employment practices in relation to training and compensation.  This survey was conducted by telephone, or if the institution requested, by electronic format through email.  The expense for this research included photocopies, long distance telephone fees and postage which incurred a total expense of about $100. 


Once all of the data was collected from both surveys, a Student Employment Advisory Board was formed consisting of hand-selected exemplary student employment supervisors and student employees.  The Advisory Board consisted of ten student employment supervisors, the Coordinator of Student Employment, Director of Human Resources and three student employees.  The Advisory Board analyzed the research results from both surveys to determine a plan for reengineering the student employment program.  Research from the first satisfaction survey indicated that student employees were dissatisfied with opportunities for advancement in pay; increased responsibility and challenges; and to build relations that would enhance future careers. The marketing research survey indicated that most colleges and universities did not have training and development or pay advancement opportunities for their student employees.  A plan was initiated to create a structured student employee development program that provided opportunities for advancement, training and development and performance based evaluations.  The criteria and process for advancement in the program was determined by the Student Employment Advisory Board.  The Board met on an as-needed-basis and created the foundation of the program along with the student employee performance evaluation tool (see “Additional Resources” link for performance evaluation tool).  There was no expense for the planning process of the program.   


Career Pathing Program Criteria for Advancement: 

Ø  A student employee must work within the same department for both a fall and spring trimester (credit is granted for a full trimester if a student begins employment later in the trimester but still completes three training and development sessions for that trimester) 

Ø  A student employee must attend at least 3 of 8 personal and professional development opportunities offered per trimester (students are paid for their time in attendance).  Each session may last approximately 45 to 90 minutes based on the topic and/or presenter. 

Ø  A student employee must have an annual satisfactory performance evaluation completed by their supervisor. 

  Once the criteria were determined, meetings were conducted with the Financial Assistance Office, Payroll Office, VP of Finance Office and the Information Technology Programming Department to discuss any changes, concerns or ramifications in implementing the program, such as:  financial assistance packages being affected based on the opportunity for increased wage rates; special software and/or programming that would need to take place to electronically implement the wage increase and record advancements; payroll issues and finances that could be affected. 


Next, the Coordinator of Student Employment and Director of Human Resources met with all student employment supervisors to present the design and implementation of the program and discuss concerns and address questions from the group. Subsequently, ten departments, with an approximate total of 100 student employees, were selected to be in the pilot stages of the program.  It was crucial to select departments and supervisors that enforced student employment policies and completed supervisor requirements in a timely manner.  Student employees within the ten departments were invited to attend an introductory meeting to become familiar with the program.  The program was emphasized as strictly voluntary and continues as such.    


The Office of Human Resources researched and selected eight presenters for the first trimester of training and development (spring 2005).  Each training session is offered three times within the same day to allow student employees to attend between scheduled classes.  Training sessions are offered on both personal and professional development issues.  Presenters consist of a combination of university faculty and staff, as well as professional speakers.   Generally four off-campus professional speakers and four on-campus speakers are scheduled each trimester.  Most on-campus presenters have no fee and incur no expense for their presentation.  Occasionally there may be photocopies made for participant handouts or a meal expense for the presenter.  Off-campus professional speakers have various fees.  Speaker fees have ranged from as little as $150 to as much as $3,000 depending on the speaker, travel expenses and other fees.   A trimester of eight training sessions has cost anywhere from $6,600 to $12,990.  We have now established an annual budget of $14,000.00 and plan accordingly. The university recently piloted a “community learning” component to the program.  Community members are invited to attend the training and development sessions for a fee of $25.00 per person.  Inviting community members allows students the opportunity to attend sessions alongside experienced business leaders, while also providing training and development opportunities for local businesses at a minimal fee.  Funds generated from the community member fees help support program expenses. It is difficult to ascertain the cost of the program per person.  The training and development sessions, which involve the majority of the expense of the program, are not only available to student employees but also to staff members and students who may not be employed.  However, if the cost per person was based on those students who take full advantage of the program (attended a minimum of three sessions per trimester) the cost would be equivalent to approximately $70.00 per person. The development and the administration of this program require no additional full-time personnel.  The entire program is administered by the Office of Human Resources staff, which includes a dedicated Student Employment Coordinator.      


Student employees are compensated for their attendance at each of the training sessions.  Sessions may be anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes in length depending on the presenter and topic presented.  Some students attend these sessions during regular scheduled work hours which incurs no additional time or cost to the University.  Attendance of the participants is recorded and distributed to each supervisor to verify documented time on timesheets.    


Once student employees provide a year of service to their department and complete three training sessions each trimester they then participate in a face-to-face performance evaluation with their supervisor.  The supervisor reviews their work performance and indicates to the Office of Human Resources satisfactory or dissatisfactory performance.  If satisfactory performance is indicated, the student is eligible for a $.25 per hour wage increase the next trimester and can repeat the same requirements to be eligible for an additional $.25 increase each year of service.   

Along with the wage increase is a new position level title for the student employee.   

The Career Pathing Program results in many benefits to the University, the students, individual departments and the community.  Some of the known benefits are:  promotes increased student employee responsibility; creates opportunities for pay advancement; encourages continual feedback for personal and professional development; promotes long-term employment relationships with departments; encourages retention; aides in the affordability of post-secondary education; allows for community learning opportunities and aides in future career relations.  


·         Since implementation of the Career Pathing Program student employees’ overall satisfaction has increased, from a 4.00 to 4.18 mean score, on a 5 point scale. 

·         Since implementation of the Career Pathing Program student employees’ satisfaction with compensation in relation to their contribution on the job has increased .56 points on a 5 point scale. 

·         Since implementation of the Career Pathing Program student employees’ satisfaction with their compensation has increased .6 points on a 5 point scale. 

·         Since implementation of the Career Pathing Program student employees’ satisfaction that their job provides them with the opportunity to build relationships that will assist with their future careers has increased .3 points on a 5 point scale. 

·         A consecutive three year analysis reflected that those student employees who were actively involved in the Career Pathing Program had not withdrawn from the university during their time of participation. 

·         Student employment and the Career Pathing Program have increased student engagement which promotes retention and degree completion. 

·         The Career Pathing Program has been benchmarked by a number of colleges and universities in the United States and England. 

Challenges/Problems Encountered:Research was conducted to examine other college and university programs in efforts to identify existing models.  Results indicated no existing models.  As a result a Student Employment Advisory Board was created to assist with the challenges of communication, performance measures and wage tiers in efforts to promote acceptance and participation.  The personal and professional development was initially restricted to student employees, which was perceived as a disservice to the full-time employees.  Now all employees, including staff, faculty and student employees, may attend the sessions offered; however only student employees who complete the program criteria may benefit from wage advancements. Initially, communication about the program to the student employees was challenging and minimal. Satisfaction survey results indicated that student employees were not aware of the program and how it operated.  As a result email communication is sent to all student employees about the program upon the beginning of a trimester and reminders about each development session is sent to all student employees a week in advance of the session and to each registered participant a day before the event.  According to the satisfaction survey awareness of the program has increased from 60% to 98%.    
Evaluation Approach: A student employment satisfaction survey is conducted annually in order to provide program engagement and gain knowledge of program improvement objectives.  Based on prior student employee feedback the data elements of success were driven by satisfaction surveys and student involvement on the Student Employment Advisory Board.  The Coordinator of Student Employment in partnership with the Office of Information, Analysis & Assessment is responsible for the assessment related to this project.
Potential for Replication:Once an institution determines to implement such a program it is important to educate and inform departments and individuals affected by its efforts and gather support to implicate a successful commencement of the program.  A dedicated full-time employee assigned to Student Employment Coordination is essential to the management of the program.  The University President must be supportive and endorse the program initiatives for successful implementation and continuation of the program.  A commitment to both student employment labor and professional development funding is essential to the establishment and continuation of the program.  A supervisor’s commitment to evaluating student employee performance and encouraging participation are vital to the participation rates and success of the program.  Special circumstances that warrant consideration are state minimum wage increases, bottom tier staff wages and commitment to professional development and how it will be provided and administered. 
Additional Resources:

“About the Career Pathing Program” 



“Personal and Professional Development Opportunities” 



"Student Employment Performance Evaluation” 



CEO-to-CEO Contact:John Jasinski , Presidentjohnj@nwmissouri.edu
(660) 562-1110
Date Published: Tuesday, March 22, 2011Date Revised: Thursday, April 19, 2012