They are seen all over College Station, transporting students to and from the Texas A&M campus. Those who haven’t seen them, have heard them. At every turn, an Aggie Spirit Bus grinds and squeals its way around campus and the surrounding city.
Drivers have trained for months, spending hours with someone looking over their shoulder as they have learned to drive a commercial vehicle. They have responsibly transported students and their families from something as monotonous as daily classes to something as momentous as Aggie Ring Day or graduation.
Most people don’t expect it is a student behind the wheel of the Aggie Spirit Bus. Jonathon Gaona said he has worked for the Aggie Spirit Bus for eight months and has the unique privilege of driving his fellow students to football games, class and ring day.
Driving for the Aggie Spirit Bus is only one of the hundreds of jobs available to students on the Texas A&M campus. Over 10,000 undergraduate students were on the A&M payroll for the 2017-2018 school year, with wages ranging from $7.25/hour to $17.00/hour, according to the Texas A&M scholarships and financial aid office. As of 2017, 43 percent of full-time college students have to work an outside job, compared to the 33 percent in 1970, according to National Center for Education Statistics.
On-campus employment opportunities can be found on Jobs for Aggies, said Colleen Sisco, assistant director of the Scholarships and Financial Aid Office. A student doesn’t have to use Jobs for Aggies, but it is a convenient and centralized location for students to see available part-time positions, said Sisco.
“If you need help finding a job, come to the Student Employment Office’s walk-in hours and we’ll pull up Jobs for Aggies and help you sift through the jobs you are qualified for,” said Sisco. Most on-campus employers post on Jobs for Aggies and the staff at the employment office know how to narrow it down on the site, Sisco added.
There are a variety of options for on-campus employment and employers are all looking for something different, said Sisco.
12th Man Productions is responsible for all the video production elements that touch Aggie Athletics, said Justin Argo, the broadcast production manager. There are 80-100 students working all the video, replay, editing and graphics, said Argo.
“12th Man starts posting hiring information every January and hires anywhere from 15-30 students depending on the need,” said Argo. “We don’t really look for previous experience as much as we look for someone who is a sports fan, will show up with a good attitude and is willing to learn.”
Our students are expected to work 15-20 hours, but it varies based on what the student can commit to and how dedicated they are, said Argo. The best student employees work 20, he added.
“Working at 12th Man gives you broadcasting experience that other college students don’t get,” said Argo. “There is not a lot of study like this at A&M so we give the opportunity to learn the practical skills along with how to work in a team and communicate well.”
A job that many people don’t think about is a resident advisor for the dorms, said Joshua Morris, coordinator of residence life.
“Being an RA sets you out as a student leader through problem solving, effective communication, and teamwork,” said Morris. “The biggest asset we have is once our RAs are done with their employment, they go into the real world with marketable skills their peers may not have.”
Applications are open every semester through the housing portal, said Morris. The housing department looks for someone with a genuine desire to help those around them and has good time-management skills, Morris added.
“RAs get a monthly stipend and 10% off their housing,” said Morris. “You also get to have your own room and an iPad is issued to every RA for work purposes.”
Driving the Aggie Spirit Bus requires a little more training than other jobs on campus, said Madeline Dillard, assistant director for transit transportation services. Training can take between 4-8 weeks to complete depending on a student’s availability, said Dillard.
“Applicants must have a good driving record, a current license, and be able to obtain a State of Texas Class ‘B’ vehicle operator’s license,” said Dillard. “To apply you can go to our website transport.tamu.edu, but you must be eligible to work for at least three semesters.”
Driving the Aggie Spirit Bus is one of the highest paying student jobs on campus with raises awarded based on experience, said Dillard. Although there is a very flexible schedule, students are expected to work a minimum of 12 hours per week, said Dillard.
There are a variety of other lesser known positions open in the transportation department that can be found online, said Dillard. Those positions have a shorter training time than driving the bus does, said Dillard.
Some student workers are eligible for work study. FAFSA determines if a student is eligible and from there the financial aid office awards work study, said Sisco.
Work study is a type of financial aid and the intent is to help students fund their education, said Sisco. It provides students with part-time employment who are enrolled at least half time and have financial need, added Sisco.
“Everything for work study is in the form of a pay check or direct deposit,” said Sisco. “It is up to you to determine how you want to spend it.”
Even with work study, a student is on campus working for a real department and learning real skills, said Sisco. Work study isn’t a requirement to work on campus, it’s just another way to do it, added Sisco.
Preparing for a job or interview can seem overwhelming, said Haley Carmack, a student employee at the Texas A&M Career Center. It can be hard to know what employers are looking for, said Carmack.
“The Career Center offers a lot of resources online like resume templates and cover letter reviews,” said Carmack. “An advisor can also sit down with you and talk one on one about what you can do to prepare for an interview.”
There are over 700 workshops and programs offered with an estimated 40,000 students in attendance for the 2018-2019 school year, according to the Texas A&M Career Center website.
“The advisors at the Career Center see a lot of resumes and talk to a lot of employers, so they know what to look for and what you can do to look more professional,” added Carmack.
The Student Employment Office offers workshops on soft skills and tries not to duplicate the Career Center on what they do, said Sisco.
There are free workshops for sharpening professional skills open for online registration, according to The Student Employment Office at Texas A&M. All workshops are held in Room 236 of the Pavilion and there is a list of available workshops online under Student Workshops. There is also a list of available jobs on jobsforaggies.tamu.edu.
“Working on campus can be beneficial for students because there is no traveling involved and employers are typically more understanding about your schedule,” said Sisco. “Your employers also tend to be more helpful for providing information about other resources on campus.”