When he was first hired, David Leach, the director of Campus Recreation at Princeton University, said he found a noticeable lack of student staff at the university’s campus recreation center. This was largely due to the academic demands of the Ivy League school. But he did find that many students wanted to work in campus recreation. He decided to harness that into the hiring process at the facility.
It is said that a company is only as good as the people that make it up, so hiring is not a task taken lightly. A member of a team has a potential to make or break the team camaraderie and reach the ultimate goal of campus recreation.
To find out what certain campus recreation facilities look for in terms of new team members – professional or student staff – we asked five campus recreation directors what they look for in terms of personality, responsibilities and skills. And as, Larry Mellinger, the director of campus recreation at Elon University, said: This might not even be the candidate with the most experience.
If you’re already looking to hire for the next school year, read what aspects these campus recreation directors look for in professional and student staff, to hopefully gain a little insight into each university’s recreation hiring process.
“When hiring full-time as well as student staff, it is important to assure that your successful candidate understands the requirements of the position, departmental expectations and the culture of your organization. The organization’s mission, vision and values should be clearly communicated and discussed before deciding if a candidate is the correct fit for your organization.”
“Whether hiring professional or student employees, hire for fit and potential. While you do want to ensure that minimum qualifications are met, simply hiring the candidate with the most experience is not always the right move. Look for candidates who fit your departmental culture, have strong interpersonal skills, and display potential to develop in the position.”
“Shortly after becoming director here at Princeton, there was a noticeable lack of student staff. There was a perception of our students being too busy to workout – due to the academic rigor of Princeton, the wide array of student organizations and activities, etc. We did, however, find many students were interested in working for Campus Recreation. As primary stakeholders in what we do, we increased our efforts to hire and retain students. Jess Ward, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation for Programming and Dan Bennett, Assistant Director of Campus Recreation have developed an outstanding student hiring and training program. Campus Recreation has more than doubled the amount of students working in our programs and facility. We are one of the “go-to” places for students interested in a job on campus, and a lot of credit goes to the outstanding staff I have the privilege of working with, here in Campus Recreation.”
“Personally, some experiences and attitudes I focus on for our professional hiring revolve around the person’s commitment to the collegiate recreation profession. If it is an entry-level position, I focus on the quality of the graduate assistant position they may have experienced, as well as the size and scope of responsibility.
As for attitudes, I am excited when young professionals bring exuberance to the interview and a willingness to both learn new things and share their experiences at other institutions. When hiring higher-level positions, prior experience in similarly sized institutions is helpful.”
“We have often heard that contests, whether sporting or otherwise, build character. To an extent, this is true. However, I believe that contests reveal character. It is only when pressure is applied that we see what is on the inside. Even though we oftentimes only have a short window of time to interview applicants, it is critical that the interviewer gains a glimpse into the world of the applicant’s contest management.
In other words, whether it is through case studies or scenarios, we must strive to frame real life situations, putting them into possible battles. We need to see what our potential team members will do when the heat is on. If we cannot frame it ourselves, the importance of the reference check increases exponentially. The mouth and eventual action of our applicant always flows from what is stored up and molded in the heart. We must do what we can to peer into the inside as that is the person who will show their true colors when the chips are down and the storms of business life come calling.”