It’s no secret student employees help power campus rec centers across the country. But how are these essential workers given recognition? At Auburn University Campus Recreation, student employee appreciation is top-of-mind, especially at the end of the school year.
Corie Baldwin, the assistant director of Assessment and Risk Management at Auburn Campus Recreation, said the department recognizes the graduating students with a Senior Send-Off.
“We invite graduates and their families to the Recreation and Wellness Center for a farewell reception,” said Baldwin. “Students visit with their supervisors one last time and show their parents around the facility. We also provide small mementos, like a custom medallion and padfolio, to thank them for their service to our organization.”
Baldwin said they also provide student workers snacks throughout finals week. During that stressful time, the break room is stocked daily with pizza, popcorn, fruit and candy.
However, there are even more ways the department strives to showcase student employee appreciation.
Strategies Across Campus Recreation
In the either program areas within Auburn Campus Recreation, supervisors do something different and special for their staff. Examples include:
- Group Fit has an in-house senior conference for their staff. The seniors on staff lead different workouts throughout the day. Younger workers attend as guests. “It’s a great opportunity for the younger staff to learn from the experienced staff,” said Baldwin. “At the end of the event, student employees are presented awards they earned throughout the year including scholarships to earn certifications, employee of the year and senior awards. It is an event everyone looks forward to.”
- Aquatics has an incentive program throughout the year where lifeguards can earn individual and team points. At the end of the semester, the team and individual with the most points are recognized. “Teams have previously won team dinners, Starbucks gift cards or Campus Rec swag,” said Baldwin. “The winners are announced at the last in-service, which is typically a fun event that’s out of the staff’s element. Some years the staff go bowling, play kick ball or go rock climbing.”
- Marketing and Personal Training/Olympic weightlifting/Powerlifting hold occasional dinners for their team with games, special mementos and seasonal treats.
Maintaining Student Employee Appreciation
Baldwin said it’s important to show gratitude and recognize the hard work students showcase throughout the school year. Not only can it be emotionally beneficial, but it can also be bittersweet for the leadership team.
“So many of us form a special connection with our students,” said Baldwin. “We are saying goodbye to seniors and promoting younger staff into leadership positions. It’s always rewarding to celebrate them.”
For other schools who are looking for ways to show their student workers more gratitude, Baldwin advised to first find what is important to them. “Discover what has meaning to them and be willing to pivot,” she said. “Our previous employees wanted medallions as a keepsake for their time at Campus Recreation. Our current staff would prefer to have graduation cords. We are now looking into purchasing cords for our seniors to wear on graduation day.”
Baldwin also noted that you don’t need a large budget to put on an end-of-the-semester event. For their first senior send-off, she said the department had a budget of just $125. “The all-pro-staff pitched in to make it a great event for our seniors and their families,” said Baldwin. “At the end of the day, our students appreciated the event and the opportunity to be recognized.”
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