Consortium of College and University Media Centers


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Training and Retaining a Great Student Staff
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About this session:

If there are any panel-format sessions regarding managing student staff, I’d like to be a part of it to talk about some of my experiences. Many of my staff have no experience or interest in Media Technology but I have a near 100% rate of keeping students on until they graduate (even asking to return after being abroad or internships). I can also happily say that in my twelve years managing students I’ve only had to fire 2 and I can count the number of missed shifts on one hand. I do this by building morale, scheduling hours that I know students will not skip out on and making training fun. Most of all, I place a high value on taking hiring seriously. There are many ways to manage students, but what I do works for me and my unit based on what I require of my students.

Proposed Content:

  • What a “Lab Aide 3”’s job entails
  • My hiring process / evaluating correspondences even before they come in for an interview
  • Scheduling, my very specific hour request forms for optimum attendance (and how no current scheduling software on the market I’ve seen has enough fluidity and is robust enough to complete the quarterly schedule to my liking).
  • Flexible yet fair shift swapping
  • Training:
    • Manual
    • Hands on training
    • Practical evaluation test / secret shoppers
  • Student projects for work and training (all done on a volunteer basis)
    • Computer Science majors working on writing a scheduling program
    • Non film-majors shooting commercials (learning and using the equipment we circulate) for the unit
    • Graphic Design for advertising; naming our computers / equipment (including creative input on the names)
  • Building Morale
    • In our previous building, our checkout counter overlooked the lab so it was more of a hangout. It has been noticeable in our swing space that our students don’t hang out with each other as much
    • Holding friendly competitions (trivia night, bowling) against neighboring unit’s student workers
    • Monthly meetings to catch up
    • Annual BBQ, Holiday Party, T Shirt design competition
  • Leadership Fundamental Concepts (if time, if needed): Direction/Alignment/Commitment as goals, learning agility at recognizing different learning types (experiencing, watching, conceptualizing, doing), 4 strategies of interpersonal savvy

Attendees will learn about:

  • What student workers are looking for in a work-study or temp job and how to balance that with the goals of the department
  • Tips for training students on software and using AV equipment and even how to teach

Importance to the field:

  • Everyone at CCUMC deals with student workers at some point. I’ve found that I’ve been really happy and successful with the staff I’ve hired. Basic leadership and management concepts are universal and can be applied to anyone who manages people.

Additional Resources:


About the presenter:

Cecile-Anne Sison, Multimedia Learning Center at Northwestern University

Cecile-Anne Sison is the Instructional Technology Implementation Manager of the Multimedia Learning Center (MMLC), where she has worked with faculty, students and staff for over a decade. In addition to creating media and managing projects for course enhancement, she leads workshops and training sessions as well as oversees the MMLC's student staff, facilities, and equipment inventory. Prior to the MMLC, Ms. Sison spent many years photographing, researching and creating metadata for the Mellon International Dunhuang Archive, a project of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. She holds a BS in Radio/TV/Film from Northwestern University, is an award-winning short film producer and director, and has taught filmmaking courses at Northwestern University and The National High School Institute.