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Orienting new student employees to their role, immediate work environment, and IUPUI or off-campus organization as a whole is critical to ensure students grasp the mission and how his or her position contributes to achieving it. In addition, a comprehensive and effective new student employee orientation program can accelerate the time it takes for student employees to become productive and improve their retention. For departments or organizations that hire multiple IUPUI students, an orientation program can also provide a chance for students to connect with each other and to begin bonding as colleagues.     

Additional benefits of an intentional approach to orient new student employees include:

  • Student employees become engaged in the work environment from the first day.
  • Clear expectations and goals can be established.
  • Student employees can understand standards regarding professionalism and workplace conduct.
  • New student employees feel valued when they see planning and effort put into the orientation program.
  • Student employees receive access to tools, systems, policies, and procedures to provide them with position-critical information.

A Process, Not a Transaction

New student employee orientation, as a process (not a transactional or one-day event), begins the moment the position is offered to the student—even before the first day! From the time the position is offered, many will begin envisioning themselves no longer as applicants but as employees. It is critical for supervisors to have a thorough plan for welcoming new student employees from this point all the way through the first day and weeks on the job. 

Luckily, as a supervisor of student employees, you do not have to take on the entire process of orienting your new student employee(s)! A variety of people are and should be involved in welcoming new student employees, including leadership, human resource contacts, other student employees, campus/organization departments, and staff and faculty in general.

Below are sample timelines, topics, and tasks that supervisors can use in developing their own new student employee orientation process and program. The below list is not comprehensive, but can be used to help supervisors identify opportunities to provide their new student employees with a meaningful experience. Again, supervisors do not have to conduct each item below; many items may be appropriate (and perhaps more effective) for other student employees, full-time colleagues, leadership, or other departments to deliver. 

Before the First Day:

  • Contact them, welcome them to their new position, and express your excitement that they are joining your team
  • Ensure they complete all hiring and human resource paperwork prior to the first day
  • Determine additional forms and paperwork needed to prepare the student, including emergency contact information, confidentiality agreement, conflict of interest form, etc.  See the hiring process page for sample forms.
  • Establish and confirm their schedule for their first day and/or semester
  • Discuss your and their expectations for their first day and weeks; share all or parts of your orientation plan
  • Discuss logistics, including where to park and where to report to
  • Provide them with the department/organization dress code and professionalism expectations
  • Provide them with required and appropriate departmental and institutional policies to review and complete before beginning, including confidentiality and conflict of interest (see IU Policies for Temporary Employees)
  • Provide them with the department/organization website to review and document any questions they might have
  • Share welcome materials such as a welcome letter, PowerPoint or other presentation, and handbooks or manuals
  • Ensure they have a work station with adequate supplies and necessary technology
  • Request access to systems or technology they may need to complete their duties
  • Order name tag or other identifying supplies (t-shirts, employee ID card, etc.)
  • Identify a space for them to place their personal items when they arrive to work
  • Identify a list of people to involve throughout the employee’s orientation and arrange meetings and presentation times (e.g., Office of Student Employment, Career Development Offices, Office of Equal Opportunity)
  • Answer any questions they have about you, the position, the department or organization, or their first few days

Schedule

Q1. Day One

  • Send an email or other announcement to your immediate colleagues or department to let them know about the student employee’s first day; encourage them to introduce themselves and welcome the new student
  • Ensure the student employee can clock in; answer any questions about using the clock-in system to document time; explain the importance of clocking in and out every day
  • Show the student employee a space to place personal items while at work
  • Show the student employee his or her work station and provide a general overview of any tools that will be used regularly (e.g., phones, fax machine, printer)
  • Provide a tour of the building and floor; introduce the student employee to his or her colleagues, including other student employees, as well as staff and faculty
  • Discuss your hiring decision with the student employee to help him or her understand his or her strengths, why you think the student is a good fit, and how the position fits into his or her academic and career plans
  • Review the position description, responsibilities, and expectations; provide printed copies of documents
  • Review the pay schedule and answer any questions about receiving a paycheck
  • Show the student employee how to track an award balance in his or her OneStart account if the position is offset with Federal Work-Study Program funds
  • Review relevant policies and procedures appropriate for the first day (e.g., attendance policy, IU hour limitation)
  • Have the student employee complete online trainings that are appropriate for the first day and have a conversation around the importance of the content (i.e., FERPA tutorial, sexual harassment)
  • Begin discussing your management style and how you can both communicate effectively as supervisor and student employee
  • Identify colleagues who can serve as resources to the student as questions arise
  • Explain how you can support and play a part in the student's role as student first and employee second
  • Check in to see how the student's first day has gone and ensure he or she knows the plan for the first week

Q2. First Week

  • Begin delegating meaningful and important assignments to the student employee rather than many small tasks; doing so will help the student feel as if he or she is contributing and will give you an idea of performance
  • Provide the student employee with information on how the office or department fits into the structure and culture of the entire campus or organization
  • Review the position handbook and answer remaining questions for the student if this has not been done previously
  • Provide information about remaining policies and procedures that have not already been discussed
  • Explain emergency procedures for the building and campus and answer any questions
  • Provide the student employee with the process and details of how he or she will be evaluated in the position
  • Have the student meet directly with specific contacts he or she will either be working with frequently or who can help him or her better understand how the position contributes to the overall department goals/mission
  • Continue discussing how you both can continue effective communication; explore how the student employee prefers to receive feedback, both positive and on areas for improvement
  • Begin discussing areas the student wants to grow in and identifying opportunities for trainings and professional development (e.g., Experience in Professionalism, University Information Technology Services)
  • Begin discussing how the student employee views this position as relevant to his or her academics and how the student might be able to use work in his or her courses and apply information from courses on the job
  • Encourage the student to continue building relationships with his or her colleagues
  • Check in with the student employee to see how the first week has gone and encourage reflection; answer any questions and provide your reflection to him or her on performance thus far

Q3. First Month

 

  • Continue delegating meaningful and important assignments to build upon the student employee's strengths and help him or her feel that he or she is contributing substantially to the unit's work.
  • Continue encouraging reflection from the student on how his or her position is progressing and connecting work to academics.
  • Discuss how the student employee's work flow has been and make adjustments to delegation style, work plan, timelines, etc.
  • Continue providing the student employee with feedback on performance.
  • Assess additional introductory information the student employee has not yet received and determine approaches to deliver that information.
  • Encourage the student employee to continue building relationships with other student employees and full-time colleagues.
  • Proceed to outline and pursue training opportunities.
  • Check in with the student employee to see how the first month has gone; acknowledge the student's accomplishment of completing the first month.
  • Make sure the student employee has a strong grasp of his or her duties and is able to work with less supervision after the first few months; supervisors should begin seeing areas for growth in student employees and provide additional training opportunities. Guidance and tools for training student employees can be found here. IU University Human Resource Services also provides guidance on new employee orientation for departments.

 

On-campus supervisors and departments with questions about developing an orientation process or program for new student employees can contact cpelka@iupui.edu for coaching and consulting services.