Troy may not be Atlanta, Birmingham, or a large metropolitan area, but for a small college town in the South, it offers adequate job opportunities for all interested college students, according to Mayor Jason A. Reeves.
With college costs increasing, the number of undergraduates interested in finding jobs is going up as well.
The National Center for Education Statistics reported that in 2007, the number of full-time undergraduate students between ages 16 and 24 averaging a 20- to 30-hour work week had increased to about 21 percent.
Troy University employed approximately 2,605 students during the most recent school year, according to Ashley English, assistant director of human resources; however, Devin Myrick, an elementary education major from Montgomery who was a freshman in the spring, said there are still students job hunting.
Myrick has been searching for a job since September and has applied at about 20 locations, both on and off campus.
“Troy is a small town with a lot of college students looking for jobs, and there just aren’t any available,” Myrick said.
Reeves said the students and their disposable income help drive Troy’s economy, making more jobs available for students.
“Most students that are interested in working, can work,” Reeves said.
“It might not be exactly what they want, but I would say I had a wide variety of jobs when I was in college … and I think so often now college students want to start at a certain level, and it really helps in a lot of ways to start at the bottom and work their way up.”
Reeves said many people, including him, are interested in hiring students.
“Most college students don’t have the responsibility of a family, children or those type issues,” Reeves said.
“What (a student) lacks in experience, makes up for in enthusiasm … and opportunities to do some things that are in your strengths. Both employers and student employees can learn something from each other.”
On- and off- campus jobs have different advantages and disadvantages.
Lindsey Harrell of Birmingham, who was a sophomore in the spring, works at Sonshine Tanning in Troy. She said she appreciates her job, but working on campus would be more convenient.
“It does have many advantages, though,” Harrell said. “I am able to work more hours, making more money, and since I am a human resources major, I am able to implement customer service and get experience in my field.”
Victoria Outlaw, a biomedical sciences major from Troy who was a sophomore in the spring, works at City Hall as the planning and zoning coordinator and special events assistant
She said she also sees many pros and cons of having an off-campus job.
“I can get away from school, and I get involved with more of the Troy community than just the university community,” Outlaw said. “I have met many great people and made many connections through this job that I couldn’t have at the university. The disadvantages to having an off-campus job would be more running around for me.”
To work on campus is alluring to many students, and for good reason, said Sydney Seals, a nursing major from Satsuma who was a sophomore in the spring. Seals is an archival worker in the Wallace Hall library.
“It is so convenient, and I get to plan my work schedule directly around my school schedule,” she said. “A disadvantage is that I only get to work 23 hours per week, so my paychecks aren’t but $200 every two weeks, which is hard to live off of.”
Seals’ boss, archives specialist Ray Barnett, said there are many pros of employing students.
“It provides a wonderful life experience for the students as well as cheap labor for the university,” Barnett said. “Students need experience and need to understand that nothing is going to be handed to them.”
Stacy Morgan, a human resources specialist at Troy University, agreed that the departments benefit from hiring students.
“They help out with the ‘extra’ jobs around the office when sometimes it gets too hectic to get it all done ourselves,” Morgan said.
“I can’t speak for all student workers, but for ours, they are awesome and always willing to help and lend a hand.”
A student who works on campus as a lifeguard at the natatorium, Alexis “Lexie” Lee, a nursing major from Dothan who was a freshman in the spring, said: “I love working on campus because it makes me feel important to the university. Since I’ve been working here, I have met a lot of people, and I don’t have to call my mom every week for money.”
Several employed students, whether working on or off campus, expressed satisfaction that they were not in constant need of more money.
The working students all concurred that being employed limited their free time. Between classwork, homework and work duties, their stereotypical dream of sleeping in late, lounging around a pool in the afternoons, and partying with friends at night got replaced with a steady paycheck.