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Published: Tuesday, 10/18/2011

Defiance College: Subsidizing Student Wages a Boon to Employers and the Economy

Ashley Hetherington, a senior communication arts major, is employed at the Smart Fitness Center in Defiance through Defiance College’s student employment program.
Ashley Hetherington, a senior communication arts major, is employed at the Smart Fitness Center in Defiance through Defiance College’s student employment program.

For Amanda Johnson, a Defiance College senior majoring in social work and psychology, her student job at a local agency gives firsthand experience in her field of study. She feels it allows her to contribute meaningful information in class and is preparing her for graduate school. “I’m gaining hands-on experience in my major and learning so much about my future field,” she says.

Student employment programs at Defiance College provide jobs and real-time experience for students in the community.  To encourage participation, the College provides partial funding to help defray costs of student employment to local nonprofit agencies and small businesses. The employment programs help stimulate the local economy and provide staffing options for organizations that operate on limited budgets.

Defiance College’s Partnership for Jobs program works with employers to place students in a wide variety of positions based on their career interests. 

The Partnership for Jobs program was launched in the previous academic year to provide real-world experience for students while also strengthening the College’s ties to the area by partnering with employers to provide affordable staffing options. The College pays 50 percent of the students’ wages with employers paying the remaining half.

Organizations, agencies and small businesses apply to the program through the Office of Career Development requesting student assistance with specific jobs and projects that offer educational benefits for the students as well as community benefits.

Lisa Marsalek, director of career development, said the program is well-liked by employers “because they are able to get help at a reduced cost.”  Many can’t afford to hire additional full- or part-time help, but they can manage the partial cost of the student wages.

At the same time, students get excellent pre-professional experience in their field of study that they can put on their resume.  “They are more marketable when they graduate,” says Marsalek.

This year the Partnership for Jobs program has placed students from a variety of academic majors in numerous positions from veterinary offices to libraries to social service agencies.

Defiance College’s federal Work Study program also places a large number of students in positions around the community. Federal Work Study provides jobs for students with financial need, allowing them to earn money to help pay education expenses.  Ashton Judis, service leadership program coordinator, says in an average year the program places more than 50 students in off-campus jobs, and the College funds these positions at either 50 or 100 percent.

Many of the positions involve tutoring or mentoring programs at the Skylark Youth Center, the Independence Education Center, and the America Reads program at Defiance elementary schools. Students are also working at the Defiance Area YMCA and the Defiance Development and Visitors Bureau.

Judis says that while Work-Study positions aren’t designed specifically as pre-professional experiences, they do allow students to network with professionals, and they are being mentored “in the real world.”  She says, “They are doing more than filing.  They are interacting with professionals in the community.”

And, she says, participating agencies love the program.  Judis routinely asks participating employers to evaluate their student workers, “and we nearly always get positive feedback.”

The Defiance Area YMCA employs several DC students each year, and Glenn Kuhn, executive director, says the students are “a great asset.”  Positions at the Y range from marketing to accounting to lifeguarding and staffing the front desk.  Kuhn says besides the financial benefits to the nonprofit organization, student workers “give a fresh perspective.”

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