Student Employment Office Has To Fill Regular, Casual Positions
Work Closely Tied with Financial Aid Program
A few weeks ago, a lady looking for a dinosaur called up the Student Employment Office. In charge of a local fashion show, she wanted to hire someone to appear in a dinosaur suit "for atmosphere." A suitable person was supplied the same day her call was received.
Regular Jobs Important
Being able to fill such unusual requests plays only a small part in the operations of an office which supervises some 1200 students working on regular part-time jobs and supplies many more with short-term "casual" jobs. Although these casual jobs are usually the more interesting and unusual ones, it is the regular kind which are the more important and which account for the close connection between the Student Employment Office and the College's Financial Aid program.
Any student may apply for work through the Office, located in Weld Hall. The regular part-time jobs within the University, however, are assigned through a priority list, based on financial need. The student without any real financial need but with a temporarily empty wallet is the one most likely to hit upon the unusual jobs, although even on the priority list such other considerations as physical condition, special talents, previous experience, and class schedule do play a small part.
The Employment Office reserves very special treatment for freshmen desiring regular work. Since they are allowed to work only in dining halls, libraries, dormitories, and two or three offices at the University, they naturally receive first consideration for these positions. But special treatment extends beyond this. About once a week, the Office makes an informal check on all the freshmen. This is usually done by a casual telephone talk, a chance conversation, or maybe even by a short note. And occasionally the student himself will come to the Office to report on his job.
All this checking is not merely to compile a set of records. More basically, it is the Employment Bureau's way of getting to know the students with whom it deals. The secretary of the Office, Miss Gladys M. Fales, mantains that she gets to know all of the regular employees after a few months. Often, she even knows about their courses, extra-curricular activities, and personal problems, realizing that all these items will affect a worker's performance both in his job and in the College.
This personal interest does not stop after freshman year, although the check system generally does. By that time the Office generally knows what jobs will suit a student best, and it can offer a wide assortment to any regular worker.
Individual departments, for instance, often hire students to do typing and research. Math, Physics, and Gen Ed courses offer many positions for student graders to relieve some of the pressure from busy professors and section men. Lab assistants are needed in most of the science courses. At the Observatory a small group of students--some under Government contract--does computing. "Animal men" are used in the biology and Psycho-Acoustic labs for the care and feeding of laboratory animals, while others are employed as electronics technicians to build and maintain amplifiers and other equipment.
With the current shortage of secretaries, many faculty members and administrative officers are hiring parttime student secretaries, as well. Although skeptical at first, the employers have discovered that these secretaries are often better at typing, taking dictation, and arranging appointments than professional ones. Many use their secretaries four hours an afternoon, five days a week--a long, but lucrative, work week for students.
The HAA also employs a large number of undergraduates each year, both on a regular and "casual" basis. The positions available include ticket sellers and collectors, groundskeepers, and medical secretaries to keep a record of injuries.
The Employment Office does not limit its activities to the University. Miss Fales, for instance, says she knows of about 100 undergraduates who have regular jobs elsewhere, mostly in stores and offices around the Square.
Most outside jobs, however, are of the "casual" variety. These are given out on a first come, first served basis, regardless of financial need. They include such varied occupations as baby sitting, dishwashing, housecleaning, and general chore work. The Office can also provide student lecturers, singers, entertainers, and even dance bands. It also locates translators, tutors, and coaches.
More Training Programs
The Office has always cooperated with the Summer Employment Bureau in seeing that needy students get interesting and profitable summer work. At present industries have for many years offered summer training jobs to juniors and seniors, in the hope of being able to hire them after graduation. Few companies, however, have offered jobs to freshmen and sophomores until this year. Yet the competition has become so intense in the search for qualified college graduates, particularly in the sciences, that many corporations are offering jobs to underclassmen to interest them in the training programs. Consequently the Summer Employment Office will this year for the first time keep a file of such industrial positions, and will also seek other summer factory jobs.
Harvard's first self-supporting student was one Zechariah Bridgen of the class of 1657, who earned his college education by "ringeing the bell and wayting on table." But there was no organized attempt on the part of the University to help find jobs for students until 1896, when the Appointments Office was formed to replace the Appointments Committee, a group of faculty members who only recommended students for jobs in the Boston area, The new office provided a limited number of jobs, but did not operate on a very large scale.
In 1909, President Lowell reported to the alumni that Harvard was "the poor man's college" to a large extent, and pointed out the need for increased scholarship and loan funds. Apparently his report stirred up interest in expanding the student employment program, for the next year a Student Employment Office was organized to provide jobs not only outside the University, but inside as well.
During the 1920's the student employment programs flourished all over the country. Reports circulated about students who had made as much as $4000 in term-time work. At the Student Employment Office here, about one-third of the undergraduates sought work, and most were able to find it.
The depression, however, brought an end to this. There were far fewer than half enough jobs for student applicants in 1932, when only about 340 people could find work. Despite extensive publicity in the Boston papers showing students washing windows, cleaning houses, and minding children, Boston had few jobs to offer, also. Yale restricted its admittance to people who could either pay for their education entirely or who could be guaranteed a job.
But with some federal aid and the continuation of an emergency plan for desperate students, the Employment Office managed to continue its service through the depression years and more than made up for lost ground following the outbreak of World War II.
Through providing jobs, the Student Employment Program plays a very important part in the financial aid program. The Office of Financial Aid estimates that the average regular or "priority" job nets 350 dollars per year, representing ten or twelve hours of work per week. Summer jobs can be expected to provide at least an equal sum. About 250 freshmen each year are offered "priority" jobs before they get to college, usually as part of a Scholarship grant, but sometimes because they need the money and have not won a scholarship. Casual jobs may net students with some useful talent as much as $300 a year.
The Employment Office is, naturally, a very useful source of labor for the University. During the recent shortages of certain kinds of help, such as secretaries and kitchen workers, the Student Employment Office has often been able to supply qualified students. Whenever the Personnel Office receives notice of a job it feels a student could handle, the request is referred to Student Employment.
But the Student Employment Office does not pride iself so much on being an important part of the University as it does on helping the individual student. Whether it is a matter of lightening a work load to help marks, rescheduling a job to allow time for extracurricular activities, or simply offering personal advice, the Office wants to be helpful. And with this kind of philosophy, it generally is.