My team has 10 fill time staff and 20+ part time student staff. How to best mitigate the challenges that the part time portion present from a management and training perspective.
I am in the interview process to be the manager of my current team. We are a IT service desk for a university.
In the first interview I was asked if I thought the student staff model is sustainable. I said I was a fan of the model and outlined the positives and negatives. Positives are they are eager to learn, have no professional baggage/bad habits (for most this is a first job), they are adaptable/easy to mold into professionals, lower salary. Negatives are the large numbers are difficult to manage, they need more training, they do not retain skills as well (because they work a fairly small amount of hours), they are difficult to schedule (we need to work around class schedules).
I have worked with student staff members for 15 years across three different universities and do fully believe that the positives out weigh the negatives. I would like to be able to elaborate on this answer in the second interview and am looking for ways to mitigate some of these negatives. Here are my current ideas:

  • An additional management position, one focusing on day to day operations and one focusing on performance. (This was not originally my idea, the previous manager and myself chatted about this)
  • A shift lead position. This would be a student position that focused on peer leadership and day to day operations. It could have nothing to do with performance due to union rules.
  • A specialized student training program that focuses on skill retention and professionalism.

mrreliable's picture

I've never dealt with this specific situation, but I'll give my two cents anyway.

Consider putting one of the part-time students in a leadership position over the rest, whether you call it management, peer leadership, shift leader, etc. Then you could focus on teaching and monitoring one person instead of diluting your efforts. That would seem to bring elements of the three points you offered. In addition to reducing the chaos of monitoring lots of students, it would teach management skills to the personnel you put in that position.


Atypical IT Guy's picture

Thanks for the reply!


This is along the same lines as I was thinking.  The problem I have been struggling with is that because of union rules I can not have a student position in charge or even have conversations about the performance of another student.  So I was thinking just put them in charge of the day to day operations and training of the other students.  This would mean that I am still responsible for performance of the entire team, but it is a significant help.