USC brings leadership training to student workplace
By Melissa Gentry, Department of Student Life, firstname.lastname@example.org, 803-777-5937
University of South Carolina students gain leadership skills on a daily basis through their involvement in the more than 400 student organizations on campus. And now, as the number of students seeking jobs while they attend college increases, the university has placed a new focus on the leadership development that students gain as student employees.
Student Leadership in the Workplace is a new initiative offered by the Department of Student Life to assist both student employees and their employers. Its goal is to help students who work both on- and off-campus understand the leadership development opportunities they receive from working during college.
With more than 1,500 undergraduate students employed in academic departments and administrative units across campus in places like the Strom Thurmond Wellness and Fitness Center and the Russell House University Union and several thousand more working in businesses around the Columbia area, these students are gaining valuable leadership skills that will serve them during their college career and after graduation.
Corrine Hawes, coordinator of the Student Leadership in the Workplace initiative, urges students to think about their work experience as more than just a paycheck.
“Students learn significant transferrable and professional skills when holding a part-time job in college,” she said. “Our goal with the Student Leadership in the Workplace initiative is to promote awareness of these skills and help students create a plan on how they can get the most out of their employment experience.”
Hawes focuses on improving the supervisor/employee relationship and connecting employment to leadership skills through several programs that aim to help students become better employees and learn more about campus resources.
Students can participate in workshops and programs during the semester-long Professional Development Certification Program to learn about building connections, leadership skills and technology. Graduates of the program will be honored at the Student Employee/Supervisor Recognition Breakfast, which also features the Student Employee/Supervisor of the Year Award, during National Student Employment Week, held in April.
Amanda Cosenza, a junior international business and economics major from Sacramento, Calif., said participating in the Professional Development Certification Program is helping her make the connections between her jobs at the Astronomy Center and Williams-Brice Stadium and the leadership skills she is gaining.
"Student Leadership in the Workplace is helping me to truly learn the value of working as a student employee,” she said. “At first, I looked at my job as a way to earn some extra money. However, through the Professional Development Certification Program, I have realized all the leadership skills my job has given me like integrity, communication, ways to more efficiently manage what I earn and even skills to prepare for my future career."
Other programs include on-the-job leadership coaching sessions, which give students the opportunity to discuss how their employment relates to their major and career or long-term goals, professional etiquette and goal setting, and the “Break with a Boss” lunch program, where students can pick up a ticket to take their supervisor to lunch at an on-campus dining facility.
Kim McMahon, director of campus life and the Russell House University Union, encourages students, faculty and staff to participate in the program.
“At the University of South Carolina, we value student employment as a leadership development initiative,” she said. “The services and programs of this new office will help faculty and staff become better supervisors while assisting students in better understanding the skills they are learning and how to apply them in all facets of their lives.”
McMahon also hopes supervisors will ask their student employees to attend the upcoming etiquette dinner on Thursday, Nov. 29 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Russell House Ballroom. Students can RSVP for this limited-space event.
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