Katherine Coetzer ‘23

Staff Writer

Brian Sawe ‘21 and Brandon Harris ‘22 at the library circulation desk. Photo by John Crawford ‘20

Over 800 student employees across campus help the college run smoothly. Their jobs range from managing front desks and assisting academic departments to running the E.H. Little Library Art Cart or putting away gear for Davidson Outdoors.  

Davidson offers students on-campus work-study employment as part of its financial aid packages. Students who qualify are guaranteed a job, though the number of hours students may work per year is based on financial need. According to Liz Robinson, Assistant Director of Human Resources and Student Employment, students work anywhere between five to ten hours per week. 

Robinson emphasized that while students have the opportunity to earn the full amount of their financial aid work study award, they are not required to work the full amount. “We want students to work because they want to work.” 

Robinson explained that the income generated from work study is not intended to cover any costs related to tuition or housing and living expenses. Rather, this income — which is untaxed — covers the gap between tuition and additional expenses such as money for books, pizza on Saturday night, or a plane ticket home. 

While all students can apply for student employment regardless of their financial status, work study students get priority. According to Davidson’s website, Davidson employs roughly 800 students working across 60 offices and academic departments. All together, student employees accumulate approximately 100,000 hours of work. 

The Davidson website explains that employment in the United States is more restrictive for international students as employment is permitted based on visa classification. Robinson explained that international students are unable to work off-campus without Optional Practical or Curricular Practical Training; however, international students with an F-1 Visa are permitted to work on campus. Despite this, they cannot exceed 20 hours of work per week. 

Students are able to apply for specific on-campus jobs through Handshake. Robinson explained that Davidson used to require students to fill in a questionnaire in order to allocate jobs that align with student interests. However, she said, the administration switched to Handshake so that the student employment process replicates professional job applications,  where students must upload a resume and, for certain positions, participate in an interview. 

Beyond providing students with valuable professional experience, according to Dustin Smith ‘20, the freedom to apply for specific jobs allows students “to work in departments on campus that align with their interests or experience.”

“My sister works for the English and Classics Departments, and she wants to go into journalism,” said Mara Papakostas ‘20, who is also employed through work study.  “So working in those departments has proven to be really rewarding for her.”

Also, since students are able to apply for jobs that suit their schedules, Handshake ensures that students “don’t get left out of the work-study system,” said Smith. 

Additionally, both Smith and Papakostas felt that work study offered many benefits opposed to an off-campus job. For Smith, the opportunity to do homework while working has made a significant difference in helping him cope with his workload. “I feel like my supervisors always respect the fact that work-study students are students first and work with us to be flexible and supportive.”

Papakostas emphasized that on-campus work study is more accessible and time efficient as students do not have to travel off campus. She has also found her work at the ticket office to be valuable as it has connected her to different campus social spheres. “I’m selling tickets to shows that my friends are in, and I’m selling tickets to my English professor and my political science advisor,” she said. “I just think that that adds a personal relationship to work.”

Robinson affirmed, “I think that all students should try to seek employment on campus to give them real-life experiences prior to graduating from Davidson so that they can learn some of the professional skills that are needed in the workforce that they may not be getting in the classroom.”