National Student Employment Week
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Information and Activities Packet

Celebrating National Student Employment Week on your campus takes commitment, planning, and coordination, but offers tremendous rewards. This packet includes tips on how to organize your resources, how to plan a budget, ideas for advertising and public relations activities, a timetable and even some samples. Depending on your resources, you may want to plan activities for the entire week, several days, or just one day (you might call it Student Employee Appreciation Day).

Also in the spring many student employment and financial aid offices participate in NSEA's Student Employee of the Year (SEOTY) competition. Nominate the winner on your campus to your Regional Association (NEASEA, SASEA, MASEA, or WASEA) using the SEOTY Campus Nomination Form. See your Region's website for contact information about the Regional SEOTY nominations. A current version of Adobe Reader must be available for opening and saving the SEOTY Campus Nomination Form.

Student Employee of the Year

Planning, Sponsorship & Budgeting
Begin by developing a "pool" of departments, administrators, student groups, faculty, and even off-campus employers who may be interested in participating. You'll need a committee, preferably composed of administrators, faculty, staff and students, for a successful week. There will be costs associated with advertising, printing, postage, refreshments, possibly room rental, prizes, awards, etc. The committee should develop a rough idea of what events and materials are anticipated, then get estimates for each cost item, and determine support available from their own departments. This is also the time to discuss your plans with deans and department heads who may not be represented on your committee, whether in Student Services, Financial Aid, Human Resources, academic departments, or even top administrators. Don't be shy to have a dollar amount in mind and ask specifically for that level of support.

Many items and/or events can be donated or sponsored by on-campus departments and off-campus employers—be sure to let them know they will be identified for their contribution! You'll be surprised how many of your "regular" employers, restaurants, stores, and others will want to be involved. On campus, you'll want to approach the bookstore, dining services, residence life, library, athletics and other large departments. You can even generate some income by including activities like a job fair, workshop, or seminar and charging a fee to participants.

First, get an official proclamation from your president, chancellor, mayor, or even your state governor. This isn't difficult—these officials do it all the time. Be prepared with some data on how many students are working, how much their earnings contribute to the local economy, how many local employers (on- or off-campus) rely on this fine workforce, etc. Create an easy photo-op by taking a campus photographer with you to pick up your proclamation or stage a full-fledged press conference with remarks by the person proclaiming the occasion.

Promotional Activities
You may want to develop a theme to use in your promotional pieces, like "Student Employment: Education at Work," "Working Toward Tomorrow", "Education that Pays", etc. You may even want to have an original NSEW logo to use on various items. There are many things you can do inexpensively to promote your events (see samples that follow) but you'll need an advertising budget to cover paid items. Here are some ideas for advertising and publicity:

Advertising (cost items)

  • Ads in the student paper listing the schedule of activities, recognizing donors (of prizes, food, gift certificates, etc.), Valentine-type ads from employers honoring their student workers, ads listing nominees for and the person selected as Student Employee of the Year (SEOTY).
  • Ads in the local paper describing events, recognizing donors and employers.
  • "Signature" ads paid for by several employers under the headline "We join (your school) in celebrating National Student Employment Week." The display staff at your local paper can help sell this type of ad for you.
  • "Co-op" ads (you supply your NSEW logo to employers and they "drop" it in their ads).
  • Car cards on buses, subways (either "co-op" or your own ad) announcing NSEW.
  • If budget allows, ads on radio/TV announcing NSEW. Check with your PR department -- possibly you could add a line onto another department's ad -- Athletics? Continuing Ed?
  • Paycheck stuffers to put in students' pay envelopes announcing activities.
  • Banners, posters, flyers, balloons to distribute on and off campus. Use high traffic areas -- main entrances, the business office (where students pay bills), bookstore, wellness center, elevator and stairwells of classroom bldgs. and dorms, dining areas, and parking lots

Publicity & Public Relations (free items)

  • Write lots of news releases, any angle you can think of, include pictures where appropriate, send to on- and off-campus media (newspapers, faculty/staff newsletter, radio, TV stations) -- NSEW proclamation being received from (state governor, local mayor, school president, chancellor...), details on nominees for and student selected as SEOTY, weird or difficult jobs students are doing, winners of all contests and drawings (real and humorous), first-person stories from students with their perspective on the value of student employment, etc.
  • Send letters to the editor of your local paper on any of the above topics written by you or anyone else you can persuade to write one.
  • Write an editorial for your school paper on NSEW, value of student employment as opposed to loans, importance of gaining job experience before graduating, developing contacts through part-time employment, refining career focus through part-time experiences, etc.
  • Send PSA's to local radio and TV stations (your PR department will probably help you) announcing the official proclamation, describing events, inviting off-campus employers to participate, explaining about the SEOTY competition, nominees and winner.
  • Visit on- and off-campus employers to explain what's happening, distribute flyers and ask for donations of give-aways (gift certificates, merchandise, etc.). This is a good way to increase your exposure with local employers and broaden your listings of job opportunities.
  • Hold a formal press conference, with speeches by Student Employment and/or Financial Aid officer, your school president or chancellor, student body president to emphasize the value of student employment. Give out press kits with listing of events, some statistics on student employment, description of the SEOTY competition, various campus brochures.
  • Invite media to any events being held during the week -- receptions, awards banquets, drawings, contests, SEOTY announcement, etc.
  • Put announcements on any electronic bulletin boards on campus property. Call any off-campus business that has one (banks, stores) and ask if they will run an announcement.
  • Use all internet-based links available on or off campus for news of NSEW events -- campus listserv, campus homepage, your office homepage, campus newsgroups, etc.
  • Go on local talk shows (radio or TV) to discuss NSEW events, importance of part-time jobs for students, etc. Possibly bring another campus person -- Financial Aid officer, student body president, typical working student, or nominee(s) for SEOTY. Take your mayor or school official who issued your proclamation and discuss the value of student employment in your community or school.
  • Send formal invitations to all campus administrators, deans, and department heads for all NSEW events. Also send suggestions on how to celebrate the week (see next section).

Activities & Events
Plan events for employers as well as students. You may want to have an activity each day or ongoing activities that wind up on Friday. Send memos to departments with suggestions of things to do to celebrate NSEW. Here's a partial list to get you started:

  • Have the art or advertising department sponsor a competition to design banners, posters, or a logo for NSEW.
  • Fill a display case on campus with materials relating to NSEW, like a poster with the dates and events, pictures of students at work, framed copy of the proclamation, names of participating departments and employers, details on SEOTY competition and how to participate.
  • As nominees for SEOTY come in, put framed picture of each, with description of why they were nominated, in display case or window of your office or other prominent campus location.
  • Have an award ceremony for SEOTY, preferably with food, and invite nominees' parents. Allow time for all to have their picture taken with your school president or chancellor.
  • Have a contest or drawing for students to choose their Favorite Supervisor or Employer of the Year. Can be humorous or serious; criteria could be "longest hair" or "best to party with" "reminds me of my mom/dad," etc.
  • Arrange for administrators to do some "reverse" job shadowing -- let them partner with a student worker for a day or even an hour, to see what kinds of duties are involved.
  • Encourage departments to decorate their office doors or bulletin boards with posters expressing appreciation to their student workers and listing all their names.
  • Have a contest for departments with a prize (ice cream social or similar) for the one with the most creative way of expressing appreciation to their students.
  • Prepare "care packages" to give to student workers (or to sell to departments to give to their student workers) with popcorn, trail mix, soft drinks, hot chocolate mix, etc.
  • Organize trivia contests with questions about your school, date founded, original name of school, famous athletes, "who is Johnson Hall named after?" Could also include pictures of student workers and ask "who is this person?" Coconino Community College posted baby pictures of student workers with caption, "Who is this?" Have lots of small prizes since you'll have lots of winners.
  • Have scavenger hunts. Request things (and places) students should be familiar with, like instructions on how to open an email account, list of community service agencies seeking student volunteers, brochure about campus organizations, signatures of the presidents of the International Student Club or Afro-American Cultural Society or similar groups. Again, have lots of small prizes for all winners.
  • Throw a pizza party, potluck, do-it-yourself sundae bar, footlong sub party; have popcorn machine in your office; serve cake & punch; have a hamburger/hot dog BBQ, breakfast/ lunch/hors d'oeuvre/dinner award ceremony for NSEW or SEOTY.
  • Several schools set up special tables in one of the on-campus dining facilities. Supervisors can reserve a table, which is decorated with a card saying "The ____Dept. appreciates their student employees" and take their student employees to lunch. A balloon bouquet further adds to the festive spirit.
  • Have open house at your office, or combine with Financial Aid, Career Services, Human Resources or other relevant office and host a reception in a central campus location.
  • Have raffles or drawings, get donations from any on-campus department or off-campus employer. Possible items include: food, gift, or grocery certificates, free nite in hotel, free game or concert tickets, video coupons, fast food coupons, textbook coupons, free movie tickets, bus or subway passes, even coupons for photo developing are welcomed by students.
  • Other possible give-aways: phone cards, coffee mugs filled with candy and imprinted with NSEW and/or department name; group pictures of students and their supervisor. Make "friendship plants" with cuttings from an office plant, put in small flower pot with card "Your roots will always be here." Make "pat on the back" awards by tracing an outline of a hand on paper, make sufficient copies, write personal note on each that tells why the student deserves a pat on the back.
  • Have "pay stub drawing" where you give prizes to first 25 students who bring their paycheck stub to your office (t-shirt, small gift item, something similar).
  • Have a "reverse drawing" -- put numbers on all gifts, students who win choose a number (or draw from a bowl), then get the gift corresponding to that number. It's easier than drawing their name, then trying to track down the student to give him/her their gift!
  • Have "graffiti board" where students can write comments about their student employment experience, then put all in your newsletter or write column for campus paper. During NSEW, keep this board in prominent place on campus or right outside your office. Instructions would say, "What is the best thing/worst thing about your job, supervisor, working conditions? What have you learned from your job? How did you get your job?" etc.etc.etc.
  • Have a Summer Job Fair or Career Expo and charge a fee to participating employers.
  • Have a job fair for on-campus employers to recruit students for fall jobs.
  • Host a workshop, seminar, panel discussion. Get facilitators and speakers from campus departments, off-campus employers, or grad students. Possible topics: supervision of student employees, performance reviews, customer service techniques, effective resume preparation, interview skills, salary negotiation, diversity training, how to identify and strengthen job skills used in part-time jobs, developing job descriptions, retention of part-time employees, ADA issues.
  • Instead of choosing Student Employee of the Year, why not choose Student Employment TEAM of the Year. Univ. of Hawaii does this for departments that don't want to single out any one student. Names of all teams are put in a hat and a winner is drawn. That department gets a catered lunch from Food Services.
  • Arrange for scholarships for winner of SEOTY, or even for each finalist.
  • Have some "Phony Baloney Contests" where supervisors nominate student workers for bogus categories like "greenest hair," "funkiest dresser," "my favorite person to be marooned on a desert island with," "best karaoke singer," etc. Put all nominees in hat, draw names in each category, give small prizes to all and also to nominator.
  • Give certificates for Longest Commute (to work), Wierdest Job, Above & Beyond (for student worker who performed over what was expected), Perfect Attendance, etc.
  • Prepare preprinted certificates to distribute to employers (on and off campus) --The_____Dept. recognizes ________________ for his/her contributions to our successful operation during National Student Employment Week, Apr. 5-11, 1998."

Below are some suggestions from NSEA's The Work Book, edited by Merle Ryan. You will want to set your own schedule based on events planned, timeline for Student Employee of the Year competition in your region, and any related local factors (local media deadlines, other conflicting events on campus, etc.).

First week of February
  • Decide to participate.
  • Select scope of participation.
  • Establish planning committee and set aside time for weekly planning meetings.
  • Contact Mayor's office/President's office to begin procedure for developing proclamation.
  • Develop a budget.
  • Identify resources available and resources needed.
  • Develop action plan and make assignments.
Second week of February
  • Develop theme/design for posters, flyers, advertisements, etc.
  • Submit requests for printing to allow ample time for proofing and printing.
  • Develop schedule of planned events.
  • Follow up on proclamation.
Third week of February
  • Press releases prepared and approved.
  • Submit printing requests for flyers, posters, letters, certificates, etc.
  • Make all space reservations for all events.
  • Mail out targeted job fair mailing with flyer/brochure.
Fourth week of February
  • Approach local vendors for cash, in-kind services (like printing) or door prize contributions.
  • Mail press release to all media sources.
  • Solicit nominations for Student Employee of the Year.
  • Select committee to review nominations.
First week of March
  • Registration deadline for job fair.
  • Solicit volunteers to help during Student Employment Week, esp. the job fair.
  • Telephone follow up: job fair mailing and contributions.
Second week of March
  • Select Student Employee of the Year and notify student.
  • Order plaque and plan Student Employee of the Year event.
  • Telephone follow up: media sources for press release
Third week of March
  • Send written notices to all faculty, professionals, student organizations.
Fourth week of March
  • Make announcements in classrooms.
  • Conduct special training for volunteers outlining duties, responsibilities, schedules, etc.
Second week of April

Our field is characterized by professionals who are always more than willing to share ideas, successes and failures with others. Among those who deserve credit for the materials in this packet are:

  • Nancy Bruckner, University of Southern Mississippi
  • Mary Cameron, University of Minnesota, Duluth
  • Myrtle Ching-Rappa, University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • Amira Ghadeer, University of Illinois at Chicago
  • Frances Hacker, University of Maryland at College Park
  • Val Johnson, Northland College
  • Susan LeBow Young, University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point
  • Len Morea, Coconino Community College
  • Leslie Mucha, Vanderbilt University (formerly of Florida International University)
  • Rosalind Newton, New Jersey Institute of Technology
  • Patricia O'Brien, Mt. Holyoke
  • Charlene Shores, University of Maine, Orono
  • Janeen Sivon, Colorado State University
  • Randy Smith, Boise State University
  • Linda Jo Stamper, Marquette University
  • Rhonda Van Diest, George Washington University
  • Donna Williams, Southern Illinois University
  • The Work Book, published by the National Student Employment Association, 2011
  • The NEASEA Student Employment Week Manual, published by the Northeast Association of Student Employment Administrators

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