A look into the role student employees play at UNC Asheville


Lucas Britt

Senior Corey McVay works with Career Peer Molly Newburger.

Joshua Staley, [email protected], Assistant News Editor

Finding a job that strikes a balance between work and school can be a daunting task for college students. There are many competitive student employment opportunities at UNC Asheville to choose from, and the Career Center provides aid to help lighten the load.

“The core motivation of our work is to help students and alumni better understand themselves, their strengths, values and where they’d find fulfillment in their next experience,” said Cate Marshall, the assistant director of Experiential Learning.

Marshall said she’s worked at UNCA for nearly five years and is blown away by the breadth of work they do at the center. 

“We assist students in exploring majors and minors and help them learn about opportunities so they can try out a field they think they’re interested in through internship events. We even offer a wellness workshop,” she said. 

Helping students build connections to campus and develop important skills for future positions is paramount, according to Marshall, as there are nearly 1,000 student employment positions on campus at any given time.

“Student employment is a high impact practice. They help keep the university running and engaging for their peers,” Marshall said.

Because student employees play such a large role in the campus community, Marshall said the Career Center will launch  the first-ever student employee appreciation week in April. 

“This is the first year we’re doing a student employee appreciation week. Hopefully next year will be even bigger,” she said. 

On April 11 and April 13 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. they’re offering free donuts, fruit, coffee and tea inside the main entrance of Highsmith. On April 15 between noon and 3 p.m. there is a thank you bag giveaway inside the Career Center. 

“There will also be opportunities for supervisors to show appreciation individually that are secret until they happen,” Marshall said.

Although the school does do a lot in regard to student employees, some students said it should compensate with better wages.

“It’s a decent wage, but I do wish I were paid more. I make $10 an hour, and as an adult college student, that kind of income doesn’t really support me,” said Lilybet Cassidy, a sophomore. 

Cassidy works as a food service attendant at BYOB, and said although they work about 20 hours every two weeks, they wish they clocked in more hours.

“Picking up more shifts can be difficult with school life, and it can be hard to manage both work and school due to other factors like family, stress and medical conditions,” Cassidy said.

Despite the dissatisfaction with wages, Cassidy said the campus does help explain the process of getting situated into a position with forms and schedules.

“I think the only other thing they need to work on is pronoun enforcement and consideration and having employees be a little better about using them,” they said.

Marshall said students should be paid equitably for the work they’re doing and it’s not a lack of caring or consideration that determines those hourly pay rates.

“There are a lot of factors that go into determining student pay, such as whether student pay is a part of a departmental budget, and if it is, how much does that equate to an hourly rate,” she said. 

Director of Housing and Student Life Operations Vollie Barnwell said wages increased in recent years as an active committee in Student Affairs evaluating student wages and has plans to increase many of them in the near future.

“Financial compensation for student employees may not be where any of us want it to be currently. I’m thankful we’ve made strides for additional hours and additional compensation on campus, and we’ll continue to do so,” he said. 

Grace Bergt, area director for Ponder Hall and the Ridges, said the goal of an area director is to help make UNCA’s residence halls feel like home for students who live on campus, and a key component to that are the residence assistants. 

“The RA role is an awesome leadership experience. They get to create a better community in their halls and help students navigate their college experience,” she said.

Area Director for Governors Hall and the Village Jonathan Goldenberg echoed Bergt’s sentiment and said he considers the benefits of being an RA to be numerous. 

“RAs are able to work one-on-one with their supervisors to cultivate skills and succeed in the areas of growth that matter to them. If you need to work on time management or communication skills, the RA role is one that can really enhance those areas of growth,” he said.

Both served as RAs during their time as undergraduate students and see the position as a stepping stone to where they are today.

“The life skills and lessons I learned during that time are ones that I will carry for the rest of my life,” Goldenberg said.