Ramapo awards strongest performing student employees

Photo courtesy of Ramapo College of New Jersey

As part of National Student Employment Week, Ramapo celebrated the hard work of its student employees by announcing the 2021 student employees of the year on April 14. Six students were awarded with the recognition. 

“I could have not asked for a better on-campus job. It really does feel like a family,” said Merytel Rodriguez-Valdez, a peer career coordinator for the Cahill Career Center. 

Rodriguez-Valdez and the other student employees described the work environment at Ramapo with words like "welcoming," "challenging," "chill," "peaceful" and "fulfilling." An agreed benefit of working on campus is how the faculty and staff understand that you are students first, resulting in a more positive work atmosphere and more flexibility regarding work hours. 

“They’re literally the nicest people on the entire planet,” Rodriguez-Valdez said regarding the Cahill Career Center faculty. She is a junior social science contract major studying community mental health and minoring in women and gender studies. Her days are spent helping students utilize the career center, from responding to student emails to assisting with mock interviews. 

“It just feels really nice to be able to help students who really need it,” she said. Her campus job relates to her career goal: become a high school career counselor and help students find what they’re passionate about.

From a desk to the stage, there are many job opportunities available on campus. Senior contemporary arts contract major Jack McCaffrey is a head technician for the Berrie Center. He helps train students in the scene shop and since COVID hit, he has designed the lighting for several live-streamed events. 

“I love working with my peers as a team, because theater is a collaborative art,” he said.

Kaitlyn Balasaygun, a sophomore photography and journalism student, landed her Berrie Center photo lab assistant gig last fall. She lives on campus and manages the dark room, shooting studio and other photography assets in the lab. 

“I really look forward to going to work,” she said. This semester, many senior photography students come in to work on their final projects, and as an underclassman, Balasaygun feels inspired by their work and enjoys being the first to see their finished photos.  

In another field is Sara Gustavsen, a senior literature major who has been working as a writing consultant for three years at the Center for Reading and Writing. By helping students make breakthroughs in their work, she gets to “help former writing haters like it a bit more.” Working at the center has improved her editing and organizational skills, which she hopes to apply towards a potential career in publishing. 

Although most students’ jobs relate to their majors, Nikola Gramatikov’s does not. He’s a biology major working as a German translator and editorial assistant for the Jane Addams Papers Project. 

“I actually like history a lot even though I’m not a history major,” he said. Knowing another language is always valuable, he appreciates the practice along with getting to indulge in learning about history. 

Similarly, Prithivi Rana is an engineering physics major who works as a circulation assistant at the Potter Library and helps students navigate library resources.

“I love the people I work with,” Rana said. “I think that creates an environment where I actually look forward to coming in for my shifts.”

While some students only began their positions this year and others are seniors, each student landed their on campus jobs either through Handshake or by sending emails expressing interest in a specific role. 

“If you’re curious about it, reach out to the person in charge and they’ll be more than happy to tell you more and if there’s a position available,” said Balsaygun.

Balasaygun went on to note that once COVID-19 hit, seniors left their positions behind and many remain unfilled due to pandemic closures and restrictions. But with the anticipation of a more lively campus this fall, Rodriguez-Valdez suggested that students interested in on campus jobs begin their search early. 

“Start looking on Handshake before the fall semester starts,” she said.

During the first few weeks of the fall semester, most roles have already been filled. So if you are on the hunt for a flexible, worthwhile job, update your Handshake resume and fill out your profile so that this summer, you can quickly apply to (and hopefully score) a job on campus.