Student Employee Supervisor Responsibilities

General Conditions of Employment for Students

All student employees at Michigan State University are subject to the rules governing personal conduct of employees. These conditions apply to each student employee regardless of the department in which the student is employed.
At the date of hire, it is the responsibility of the hiring department to insure that the student understands all of the conditions of employment. These conditions should include the duties of the student's job, starting and ending dates of employment (if indicated), starting pay rate, rights, responsibilities and any departmental personnel policies. It is best if this information is in writing.
Basic conditions affecting all student employees at Michigan State University are as follows:
  • Student employees MUST be processed for employment through the EBS Portal prior to starting work.
  • Satisfactory performance is expected of student workers while employed with the university. If a department feels that a student is not fulfilling the duties of their job as explained at the date of hire, the situation should be discussed the the student as soon as it is recognized to insure that the student fully understands the work responsibilities before any further time lapses.
  • Campus-wide student employment policies and procedures pertaining to wages, hours worked, hiring procedures and utilization of student labor at Michigan State University will be established by MSU Student Employment.
  • Student employees cannot work on a volunteer basis at a job for which they are normally paid.

Training Student Employees

Supervisors train, motivate, communicate, guide and evaluate their student employees. You serve as models for the development of good work habits such as punctuality, dependability, cooperation, honesty, and efficiency. In the academic setting, it is often difficult to provide sufficient time or flexibility of schedules to provide an adequate period for training student employees. Supervisors must continue to meet service and production demands; students quickly become immersed in their academic and extracurricular pursuits. Good personnel practices require that every new worker be oriented to the hiring unit and trained in skills necessary for satisfactory performance.


Students are more likely to become enthusiastic and take pride in their work when they understand the role of their department in the total institutional picture. At orientation sessions, the activities of the department are explained, students are informed of the "do's" and "don'ts" of the job - if their work involves meeting the public, what is the proper attire, what is the proper behavior. This is also an opportune time to explain what procedures are to be followed when illness or other reasons keep a student away from daily work assignments.

Demonstrations of Skills and Procedures

Most training occurs on-the-job with the supervisor demonstrating and describing the correct methods and skills to be utilized. In doing so, we should avoid these common training errors:

  • Giving too much information at one time;
  • Giving instructions too rapidly;
  • Failure to determine the student's level of experience;
  • Not permitting enough opportunity for questions

There are unique circumstances related to each student's job that cannot be outlined in a general policy manual. Therefore, it is the supervisor's role to determine the job duties and responsibilities assigned to that job within the definition of the job classification.

Supplemental Material

While some supervisors are excellent articulators, there is often the danger of overwhelming the student with more information than the student needs or can retain. A department brochure, fact sheet, or annual report can be given to the student to read, keep and refer to. In addition, handbooks and other volumes which explain skills, procedures and processes necessary to the student's job performance should be available whenever possible.

Student-Supervisor Relationships

The college years are both exciting and trying times for a young person attempting many new things. This excitement and the individual concerns of students are brought daily into the work situation and form the basis of various interpersonal relationships between students and supervisors.

  • Develop rapport
  • Maintain impartiality
  • Be a co-learner
  • Show respect
  • Be flexible

Finally, you must always view each student employee as a total person, not simply as a worker assigned to a task for several hours daily. It is your responsibility to help the student put concerns in proper perspective so that they do not overshadow activities in the workplace.


Evaluation is an on-going process that occurs almost daily. After the student is given initial training, make periodic checks to see that performance is meeting the desired expectations.

The long-range goal of student evaluation is not simply to provide a system for grading work. It is designed as an instrument to assist in the student's development and to enlarge the dimensions of the work experience.

Each unit should determine the frequency and type of evaluation procedure they wish to use. Listed here are general categories that can be used to create an evaluation form for your specific unit.

Quality and Quantity of Work

Criteria for evaluating work product, productivity, and the quality of work performed:

  • Is responsive to deadlines and notifies affected parties when meeting deadlines is not possible.
  • Plans and observes work time responsibly.
  • Works effectively and efficiently with all co-workers.
  • Accurate and thorough in all work assignments.
  • Completes work with little or no supervision.
  • Completes work following specific instructions, policies and procedures.
  • Demonstrates high quality standards in all interactions and work assignments.
  • Exercises good judgment and makes appropriate decisions in performance of duties.

Work Characteristics and Attributes

  • Presents and promotes a positive image of the institution through business-like conduct, attitude, and appearance.
  • Customer service-focused, exhibiting helpful, friendly, and courteous service.
  • Demonstrates punctual, reliable and consistent attendance.
  • Demonstrates the ability to appreciate and work with a diverse population.
  • Proactively and willingly acquires new skills, tasks, procedures, and projects.
  • Self-starter; takes action without being asked.
  • Willing to accept suggestions and training; takes direction.
  • Flexible.
  • Asks questions when needed

Job Knowledge and Skills

  • Respects confidentiality of all student and MSU documents, information, records, etc.
  • Demonstrates knowledge of the position, department, division, and institution mission and goals.
  • Ability to accurately follow oral and written instructions, directions, policies and procedures of the department.
  • Demonstrates the ability to make sound judgments.
  • Deals with difficult situations effectively.
  • Demonstrates effective and appropriate written and oral communication skills.

Work Concerns

Working with people in any job setting frequently presents certain personnel problems. Student workers are often more responsive to counseling and they accept work evaluations as they accept academic measurement.

Often, the beginnings of student problems go unnoticed until the matter becomes large, affecting either production or department morale. Where counseling by the supervisor has been tried with poor results, MSU Student Employment should be contacted and assistance requested.

Unsatisfactory Performance

Student employees who demonstrate either unsatisfactory work performance or unsatisfactory work attendance may be warned and given time to correct the problem, or be dismissed.

These actions should be documented:

  • Warning: Upon demonstration of unsatisfactory performance or attendance, the student should be told in private explicitly how job requirements are not being met, and allowed a reasonable period to improve their performance with the understanding that unless work performance or attendance is improved, their employment will be terminated. The supervisor should take steps toward improved communication or instruction enabling the student employee to achieve satisfactory performance.
  • Written Warning: If the student's work performance continues to fall below required standards, the student should be informed in writing of the unsatisfactory performance.
  • Termination: If, after at least one written warning, the student's performance has not improved, the student's employment may be terminated.