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Off-campus work study takes downturn
There has been a significant drop in the number of students applying for off-campus work study positions from the last academic year compared to this past fall, according to Quinnipiac University administrators.
Quinnipiac University’s Office of Community Service Director Vincent Contrucci hasn’t seen a downfall this sizable since he began working at the university seven years ago.
Approximately 40 less students currently work for America Reads this year compared to 100 students last year, according to Contrucci. Meanwhile, Hamden Youth Services is facing the same issue. Last year all of the positions were filled, but this year, there were still many openings.
“I always have students that have work study and complain that they can’t find a job, so there is not an issue with the amount of students who are being awarded work study,” he said.
According to Contrucci, every college or university that receives federal funds has to devote 7 percent of work study funds in terms of community service. Quinnipiac’s Office of Community Service is responsible for developing relationships with nonprofit organizations in the area where students can have work study positions.
Quinnipiac currently offers a variety of jobs with both the America Reads and the New Haven Reads programs. Through America Reads, students serve as tutors to younger students and work with them and their teachers during the day. At New Haven Reads, students are able to work in administrative positions and not so much in the classroom, according to Contrucci.
Other jobs are also offered at Aids Project New Haven, The Community Health Center Inc., Hamden Youth Services, IRIS (Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services) and Special Olympics Connecticut.
Unlike on-campus work study jobs that pay $8.25 per hour, these jobs pay $2 more per hour, according to Contrucci. Positions at these nonprofit organizations are paid $10.50 per hour and $11.50 per hour at America Reads.
These jobs also offer students a chance to practice the skills they are learning through the university, as well as provide opportunities for students to add to their resumes, Contrucci said. Many of the jobs have even led to paid internships for students.
“They’re not just your average work study job,” Contrucci said. “It’s almost an internship opportunity because you’re working with a functioning nonprofit, and they’re not giving you ‘file this, make copies of that.’ You’re working with substantial issues with these entities.”
Students have come up to Contrucci after working at these nonprofit organizations expressing how they have benefited from working there.
“I have had a student who was working for New Haven Reads who was a film and video major and he was hired for one thing and as soon as they learned what his skills were, he was making videos for them, for their websites, fundraisers; he was putting together newsletters for them and redesigning their website,” Contrucci said.
The Office of Community Service had between six to seven America Reads tutors get hired by their schools as teachers within the past seven years. The Special Olympics Connecticut has also hired between three to four past work study students after they have graduated, according to Contrucci.
Senior Alba Ortega worked for an elementary school in New Haven with American Reads for four years after seeing a flyer as a freshman about the opportunities. She became highly interested in the program after learning that the job was associated with community service. She then enjoyed working with America Reads and says she likes seeing the progression of the students she worked with.
“This job allowed me to get a sense of a community outside of Quinnipiac,” Ortega said. “These students and teachers are so happy when they see you, and knowing you are making a difference is an amazing feeling.”
The Office of Community Service still questions why so few students have applied for these jobs during this academic year. Because the program usually received a lot of applicants in the past, Contrucci looked to expand the program this past summer to other subjects.
Contrucci looked into including programs for business, health sciences and marketing because most of the jobs are currently related to education. However, he put his expansion plans on hold because he cannot create more jobs until the current ones are filled.
“I can’t identify what the problem is from last year to this year,” Contrucci said. “Last year all my positions were filled, I didn’t have any open positions in the spring. And this year it’s like crickets.”
Students with work study may find more information regarding the off-campus opportunities on WebAdvisor.
The organizations were not available for comment.
Katherine Rojas contributed to this story