An Education is Not All You Can Earn at ECC

Vanessa Passo, Staff Writer

The balancing act of college can be quite overwhelming for students. Between taking classes, working, spending time with friends and family, daily life becomes more and more of a struggle than how we once knew it.

An education is at the forefront of most young adult’s minds, but many, if not all, are not only students, but employees.

Working during the years of college is the ultimate test of priorities. Studies are important, but as students grow more independent, they might find that their daily needs have come a long way from the good ole’ Crayola crayon and fruit snack days. A college student’s budget is like a rubber band being stretched to its very last fiber- it does not snap, but the built up tension makes it quite nerve-wracking.

Students spend hours of their time on campus at Elgin Community College; did you know you could get paid for the days you’re already on campus?

According to Scholarships and Work Study Specialist Maria Tovar multiple departments around ECC offer student employment opportunities, open and welcome for all to apply.

“Students can work at any of the departments here at the college,” said Tovar. “From counseling, to financial aid, to the arts center, to HR, so pretty much anywhere, it just depends on the department.”

Tovar informs of the work study programs ECC offers, through which students can be employed.

“It [the application process] depends. We have two kinds of work studies: we have institutional work study, where the department actually has funds to pay for the student and then we also have federal work study where the funding comes through FAFSA and then the student has to apply for FAFSA and we look at their eligibility to see how many hours they qualify for,” said Tovar.

In deeper regard to the federal work study for students, “. . .it depends on the department, if they have funds, don’t have funds, when we’re looking at federal work study students, so it depends on what they [the departments] are looking for to see what kind of pull of students we can provide to them,” said Tovar.

Although different work studies are provided for students to be employed through, Tovar clarifies that the standard requirements for the application process remain the same among students.

“The only requirements are that the student has to have at least a 2.0 GPA and then be enrolled in at least six credit hours for fall and spring semester, summer they can be enrolled in at least three credit hours. Minimum wage, at $8.25 an hour, is offered”, said Tovar.

Students who may fulfill these simple, few requirements may see a perfect opportunity to take advantage of utilizing their time on campus. ECC student Sam Franckowiak, 21, is one of many on campus who is employed, specifically through the food department.

“Technically my job title is just ‘food service worker’. I mean we have cashiers or chefs but I do a little bit of everything… sometimes on the register, sometimes I stock or I do little things in the kitchen like bake cookies and help the chef,” said Franckowiak. “I started about six years ago when I was 15 actually. My best friend in high school’s mom is the food service director (now my boss) and that’s how I heard about the job.”

The application process for Franckowiak, and to all other students who are seeking employment on campus, is fairly simple. Students are able to apply online.

Franckowiak works around 25-30 hours a week, with a wage of $10.66 an hour.

The hourly wage seems to not be the only benefit of being employed on campus, according to Franckowiak.

“For me I would say [the biggest benefit] is how convenient it is. I know some people have to leave class and rush to work.. I just have to walk down the hall. I only work on days I have class so I’m making the drive there anyways,” said Franckowiak.

Other campus-employed students can attest to being grateful for the convenience the job offers, but also the experience with other colleagues, staff and people around campus.

Former ECC student and Spartan Leader, which is another employment option on campus, Janine Szerszen, 20, dedicated almost two years of her college career at ECC to being employed right on campus.

“[I had heard about it because] they had tables in the hallway of Jobe lounge giving out information and applications,” said Szerszen. “The [hiring] process was actually pretty simple, an application with basic questions about yourself, a few questions asking why you’d be good at the job. Then you’d have a one on one interview with Ali Kashani of Student Life, then went on to a group interview.”

A bit different than food service employment, Spartan Leaders have some prior training involved, for their primary focus as part of Student Life was freshmen orientation.

“We had roughly 10 weeks of training. . . we learned about the orientation process, met with academic advisers, did a lot of team building, and as we got closer to orientation season, we practiced a lot,” said Szerszen.

The responsibilities of the job were to “provide all the information accurately and excitably, get them [incoming freshmen] set up with advisers to know what classes they should take and then help them plan their schedule,” said Szerszen.

With an hourly wage of $8.25 for such a responsibility, employment seems to greatly benefit students by occupying their time with their fellow peers, while utilizing their talents and personality to influence other students. Szerszen makes it notable that student employees often feel rewarded and satisfied, not just through money, but through their experience.

“I feel that being able to interact and encourage students into coming into ECC of all ages and education levels was very rewarding for me,” said Szerszen.

Fellow students may strive to get other peers involved around campus, whether it be through student-employment or Student Life.
“Find something you’re interested in and contact someone . .There’s a lot to do around campus! If I hadn’t become a Spartan Leader, I wouldn’t have met so many amazing coworkers, everyone in Student Life and my boss! I’m proud to be an alum,” said Szerszen.