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Top 4 Tips for Student Employee Success

EACE contribution by Judith Applebaum Employer Relations Manager at the University at Buffalo – The State University of New York

Student employee success can be defined in many ways. At the University at Buffalo, Career Services office we define student employee success by our ability to coach, mentor and model professional skills to help students learn and practice these important skills in order to be successful in the workplace of tomorrow. So what does this involve? It’s simple, focus on the top four tips below and you will set your students up for success.

  1. Hiring and on boarding student employees
    1. Have well defined job descriptions including what qualities and skills you desire of student employees to find the right initial fit. Require a resume and have a short, formal interview to give the student that job search experience.
    2. Provide an orientation. Introduce them to the office organizational structure. Show them how they fit into the office mission and vision and tie into the institution. Teach them the basics of professionalism such as good customer service, workplace relations, how to deal with challenging situations, confidentiality, and understanding different cultures.
  1. Coach student employees to success
    1. Have well defined job responsibilities with deadlines. Provide honest feedback often. Review their performance at least once in a formal review. Recognize what they do well and coach them on areas they need to improve.
    2. Have work standards such as dress, behavior, what to do if not able to work their assigned day, and clearly convey professional standards to them.
  2. Mentor student employees
    1. Take an interest in your student employees and their futures. Provide group and/or individual job/internship search, career decision-making, and professional skill development sessions just for them.
    2. Encourage them to seek work and intern opportunities that meet their goals and help them to obtain them!


  1. Model to student employees
    1. Demonstrate a great work environment bymakingyour office one of the “Best Places to Work”. Some of the ways we have done this include:
      1. Giving student employees a voice and the ability to make a difference –
    2. Have regularly scheduled meetings with student employees;provide opportunities for feedback and suggestions; for communication of information; and for orientation and training
      1. Making them part of the Career Services Team.
    3. Have the entire staff get to know them better by having a photos board of all student employees with their names and some information about them (we have brief staff personal profiles for all staff members)
      1. Having a committee of staff members dedicated to working on improving the workplace environment for all staff including student employees.
      2. Showing appreciation


  1. Student Employee Appreciation week includes staff bringing treats the students said they loved to eat and a wall of thanks with pictures of each student employee for all to see.
  2. An end-of-year thank you with a wall full of written comments from each staff member and a small gift and letter from the Director for those graduating.
  3. Say thank you and acknowledge when a student employee goes the extra mile.
  4. Be flexible and allow the student employee to request flexible hours when needed.


UB Career Services has become a model in helping to develop the professional skills of its student employees. They wanted to take this further and share their ideas and insights with the University supervisors of student employees. As a result, UB Career Services teamed up with Human Resources to offer the first-ever workshop for those who supervise student employees.


Judy Applebaum, along with Nancy Schimenti and Joe Meyer, hosted the 9/9 Twitter Chat, ” Setting Up Your Student Employees for Success.” If you missed it you can read the storify of the chat:


*I would like to acknowledge Nancy Schimenti in UB Career Services for her passion for furthering the professional skills development of our student employees.


Judith Applebaum

Judith Applebaum

Judith Applebaum has been a Career Services professional for nearly 30 years and currently serves as the Employer Relations Manager for the Career Services office at the University at Buffalo. She has served on committees and/or held leadership roles at NACE, EACE, AAEE, WNYACCC, SUNYCDO. She received her Master’s Degree from Bowling Green State University in College Student Personnel. Her honors include the SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Professional Service and she has received recognition for her use of technology in career services.

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