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Appreciation versus Engagement

Student employee engagement differs from student employee appreciation in that the ways you appreciate your student employees can serve as a driver of overall engagement. Think of appreciation as the tactic and engagement as the goal and overall benefit to your department and the students themselves. 

Departmental Appreciation Strategies: Opportunities You Create

  • Deliver a simple thank you note or message with specific and personalized contributions. For example: "Thanks for your hard work so far this semester and good luck in your business classes!"
  • For new student employees, encouraging notes or reminders can help them feel part of the team and continue to learn what an appreciative working environment looks like. Remember to be specific and personal.
  • Gather information from your student employees on how they treat themselves when they do a good job or how they like to be recognized. This information could help you plan for special occasions or when a meaningful contribution happens and you want to say thanks!
  • Establish a “Student Employee of the Month” program in your department or college.
  • Create “Jagtastics” or another tool to document the accomplishments of your student employees and display those for the department to see.
  • Allow time during a student employee staff meeting to recognize your students, both individually and as a group. Consider allowing them time to also recognize the positive contributions of each other. This can be especially helpful if you have a group of student employees who work with each other regularly. 
  • Recognize special events through informal celebrations, decorating, posters, or other venues (e.g., birthdays, tests, midterms, end of semester, graduation, and holidays and seasons).
  • Design a “Meet the Student Staff” survey and display the content with pictures in your office or on your website.

Appreciation Tool Kit: Campus Recognition and Appreciation Opportunities

Letters of Reference and Recommendation

Consider including the following topics when writing a letter of reference or recommendation for a current or previous student employee:

  • In what capacity you know the student and how long you have worked with him or her in that capacity.
  • Your impressions of the student’s work ethic and quality, professionalism, integrity, perseverance, and other qualities. Be specific and use examples or anecdotes, if possible. 
  • Your impression on how the student balances work, school, and personal life.
  • The knowledge, skills, and abilities that would contribute to the student’s success in the role he or she is working toward.
  • The student's strengths and potential as a future employee or graduate student in the specific field.
  • Unique characteristics and accomplishments of the student in relation to the role he or she is applying for or the student's career path in general.
  • How the position or role the student is applying for fits with his or her academics or overall career goal.

Additional Appreciation Resources

Information on Wage Increase Policy and Procedures (applies to IUPUI student employees)