Student Employment Showdown

Janelle Cammenga–Staff writer

You’ve heard people complain about the dish room. You’ve heard people – at least me – brag that their campus job is the best. To find out if this bragging is warranted (and if the dish room really is as bad as its reputation), I did some digging.

Lots and lots of digging.

There are more than a couple on-campus student positions to examine. Everywhere you go on campus, from maintenance to tech services, student employees try their best to keep things running smoothly.

To determine the best and worst student jobs on campus, I talked to 28 Dordt students from different jobs and asked them the following questions: Can you do homework on the job? Are your hours during the regular workday? Can you listen to music on the job? Do you get enough hours? Do you sometimes get too many hours? What would YOU say is the best job on campus and the worst job on campus? These are not all the questions that may be asked, or necessarily the best questions to ask, but they gave me a starting point for a ranking system.


Cammenga ranks Dordt’s top eight work study positions. Graphic Credit: Kaitlyn Baljeu

To explain the handy graphic nearby, I started out by giving each position four points and then subtracting a number (either 0.5 or 1) for drawbacks (bad hours, no opportunity to do homework, etc.) and ranking them accordingly. Predictably, a lot of jobs tied for in their rankings, so I also decided to add a point for high satisfaction on the job (if the student thought their own job was the best on campus). A lot of positions still tied with this addition, but it made the spread a little wider.

Due to limited time and contacts, I did not get to speak with those who work as rec center assistants, Sunday van drivers or worship arts assistants, but from what I know of those positions, they would most likely fall between the 4th and 5th place range.

Let’s start with those at the top of the totem pole:

#1: Residence Assistant

Points: 5.5

Speaking only by the score, Residence Assistants take the proverbial job cake. When you consider they don’t have to pay for housing and still get paid a salary, it’s no surprise.

“My favorite part is that I am literally paid to get to know girls,” sophomore Jalyn Vander Wal, RA of West Second South, said.

But the job is not for everyone. Not only is it hard to get hired, the job comes with intentionally high expectations, and therefore holds downsides.

“It’s continuous and I love it, but I feel like I can never do enough,” Vander Wal said. “Instead of homework, I could be out there talking with my girls. But it’s college and homework has to be done.”

The job changes as the school year marches on, with students needing less help from their RA’s during second semester.

“I got back from Christmas break and realized that they are all perfectly capable of handling college now,” she said. “I’m having a little bit of a helicopter mom issue.”

#2: Tech Services and KDCR

Points: 5.0


Sarah Dykstra works the sound both in the BJ Haan Auditorium.           Photo Credit: Jenna Wilgenberg

If you’ve ever attended a Dordt event like the freshman talent show, TX or NCDC, you’ve come across the folks in tech services. They go behind the scenes running lights, cameras and the sound system.

Senior Andrew Cammenga said his favorite part of the job is “being able to show my skills as part of high-profile events without having to really prepare or be on stage.”

Not only do tech services students get to attend campus activities and get into high-profile events (like presidential rallies), they get paid to be there. The only downside is that large events like the Trump rally mean they spend most of their day working.

Cammenga firmly believes his job is the best on campus. “It’s as fun as it SOUNDS,” he said.


Dordt student mans the front desk at the Rec. Center. Photo Credit: Jenna Wilgenberg 

Pun intended.

2 KDCR, Dordt’s on-campus radio station, also scores high on the employment scale. The hours are convenient, there’s some time for homework, and there’s plenty of good music to listen to.


“You get to say you’ve been on the radio, and you can listen to it online,” sophomore Anna Jordan, a former KDCR employee, said.

She enjoyed that the job taught her more about broadcasting. Her favorite part of working at KDCR, though, would have to be dancing on the job.

But, if we’ve looked at the top of the scale, we should take some time to look at the bottom.


Student works on the video crew. Photo Credit: Jenna Wilgenberg

#8: The Commons

Points: 1.0

Well, we can’t say we didn’t see this one coming. In the case of the worst student job, students knew what they were talking about. According to our scoring system, the Commons sits at the bottom of the heap.

Just like any other job, the Commons has its good points and bad points. The hours are a big drawback when it comes to working for the Commons, but free meals on your shift help offset the inconvenience.

“It doesn’t take brainpower,” freshman Ellie Jaspers said.

For her, this is a good thing, since she enjoys the break from her rigorous coursework.

Even the infamous dish room can be fun.

“You can just have fun and chit chat in the dish room,” said freshman Alisha Geisselmann.

As expected, the Commons also has its bad points.

Jaspers found that she like Commons food less after working with it all day. Geisselmann wishes there were options to work at times other than meals.


Graphic Credit:   Kaitlyn Baljen

The Takeaway

The scale is useful as far as it goes. It does a good job of factoring in different working conditions and ranking jobs accordingly. But it doesn’t cover everything. Different jobs fit some students better than others. For example, Jaspers left a job as a department assistant (one of the #6 jobs) for the Commons (#8) because she wanted more regular hours.

Even though being an RA is empirically the best job on campus, I find that I’m perfectly happy in my own job: the costume shop. It seems I’m not alone in my contentment, since 72% of the surveyed students thought their own job was the best.

In the end, deciding the best and worst jobs has a little to do with the actual job and a whole lot to do with your attitude.

“If it sucks, you’re making it suck,” Geisselmann said.

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