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Division of Human Resources

Developing & Engaging Students

Professional development and career readiness are critical learning opportunities that shape the success of a student’s employment experience. The university values the unique role you play as part of the overall student experience at USC.

The student employee/supervisor relationship mirrors the student/teacher relationship in many ways. Students look to teachers for instruction, for guidance, and for modeling of appropriate behavior. In the same way, students who are employees look to you for training and for professional and personal development. By helping student employees understand why they’re doing what they’re doing, supervisors can show how each task contributes to the overall missions of the office, the department, and the institution.

As a supervisor, you are encouraged to engage your student employees in the following activities as a means of supporting their development as an employee:

  • Develop a written job description [pdf] to share with the student (sample template)
  • Explain the task and its purpose (clearly establish the goals)
  • Ask them what they already know relevant to the task
  • Demonstrate and explain the task step by step
  • Emphasize any key points
  • Demonstrate the task a second time
  • Ask the student questions that test understanding
  • Allow the student to practice the task
  • Give the student specific feedback on their performance of the task
  • Have the student continue to practice the task until they can do the task themselves (allow for the learning curve)
  • Allow the student to do the task independently, and check work periodically

Once the student is comfortable in the workplace, providing them with challenging work assignments is a great way for them to grow.

Consider delegating work assignments that will allow them some creativity and independence if the work allows. The student employee needs to know exactly what the task is that is being delegated, resources that are available (materials, technology, people) as well as your goals and expectations.

The student employee should also be told why the assignment needs to be done and why they have been chosen for the assignment. It is crucial that you clearly explain when the assignment is due and when you will check in on progress. In addition, it is very important that you communicate with others involved in this work assignment to ensure cooperation. 

As a student employee supervisor, you should be the workplace coach. Coaches make time for dialogue, offer encouragement or corrective guidance, ask for input for solutions to issues, and recognize achievements. Coaching conversations involve active listening, powerful questions, and making suggestions. For more information on recognizing student employees, review these suggestions on engaging student employees.

As the student’s supervisor, you are in a key position to spot signs of personal or academic strife that may be adversely affecting the student.  For resources to assist when necessary, the Student Care and Outreach Team (Care Team) and the Office of Student Conduct and Academic Integrity may be of assistance.

Student employees should bring concerns about their employment to your attention as soon as possible. You are expected to make a good faith effort at fair and equitable resolution and to inform the student of your decision.   

The appeal process for graduate assistants is described in university policy ACAF 4.00 Graduate Assistantships and the Graduate Bulletin.

For all other students, decisions at the unit level are final and there is no appeal process.

 Evaluating the student employee’s performance has proven to increase learning outcomes associated with their role.  Some common evaluation criteria for student employees includes telephone skills, computer skills, customer service, productivity, attitude, punctuality, quality of work, cooperation, initiative, and level of supervision needed. 

As with any on-campus initiative, student engagement is pivotal to success. As a supervisor, you are encouraged to engage your student employees in conversations and activities beyond day-to-day tasks and projects. Building rapport with student employees helps to model appropriate interpersonal relationship development, increases their connection to the workplace, and enhances their dedication to their position. Review these suggestions on engaging student employees.

Professional Development is critical for student employees seeking to enhance their career readiness competencies and post-graduation job search. As a supervisor, you can support student employee’s development in this area by connecting them to university resources.

Your intentionally designed student employment experience that helps students develop career readiness skills can be documented in each student’s My USC Experience records. These records can be reported (at student’s discretion) in an official USC extended transcript.  For more information, please send a message to” 

On-campus supervisors are encouraged to discuss remote work with student employees and outline a tentative agreement of expected duties and responsibilities. This Virtual Planning Guide for Employers is composed of practical items for supervisors to consider when planning for student supervisees to work within a remote capacity.

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