Joya Breems — Staff Writer
The information desk is the first thing a visitor to Dordt University’s campus sees when they walk in the door. A student-employed attendant greets passersby and smiles at campus visitors.
“Good afternoon, this is Dordt University, how may I help you?” Abby Kraemer, the information desk student supervisor and senior Dordt student, said answering the phone.
The main duties of an information desk attendant are answering the phone and transferring calls to relevant Dordt employees, as well as giving directions on campus. Attendants reference a large blue binder containing all the extension numbers for Dordt’s faculty and staff.
Jill Jacobsma, the Information Desk Supervisor, looks for friendly and engaged attendants.
“I look for attendants that are approachable and have a knowledge of the campus,” Jacobsma said.
Attendants are “part of being a first impression of the university,” according to Jacobsma.
Beatrice Rynders, an information desk attendant and senior Dordt student has been told, “You guys are the face of Dordt.” She’s also had callers say, “It sounds like you guys are smiling on the other end of the line.”
According to Rynders, not everyone is cut out to be an information desk attendant. They must think on their feet and be able to deal with a wide array of questions.
Currently, all the attendants at the information desk are women, although men have been employed at the information desk in the past.
“Dordt certainly does not operate with any discriminatory policies. Men and women are welcome to apply for any role. As for [the information desk], we have employed males there in the past and certainly would again,” Aaron Baart, Chief of Staff said in an email. “Currently, it just so happens that recently, only women have sought that position so it may appear that there is some sort of discriminatory policy in place, but I can assure you that it is merely circumstantial.”
The information desk hiring process is based on recommendation. Jacobsma fills positions by asking her current employees who they think would be a good fit for the job. She seeks out local attendants who can work during the summer and over breaks.
“I often hire siblings or cousins of current employees,” Jacobsma said.
Rynders was hired at the information desk after mentioning to her WoW leader, a current attendant, that working there sounded like fun. When a position opened the following semester, Jacobsma emailed Rynders offering her the position.
“I know my friends, and I know who would be good at [working at the information desk], and who wouldn’t,” Rynders said. “[Jacobsma] understands that people know their friends better than she can get to know them through an interview.”
Kyle Achterhoff is the Director for Student Employment. When he started the job in 2020, students filled out a generic paper application and Achterhoff sorted them into job placements by hand.
He used post-it notes with job titles and tossed applications toward jobs he thought might fit.
“It was kind of a guessing game,” Achterhoff said. “People would’ve laughed if they walked in.”
Now, most student employment opportunities are posted to Handshake, an online system where new job openings are posted. Students can apply directly for positions they’re interested in. There is also a general work application available on Handshake, for students that aren’t interested in a specific position but want to work on campus.
“The [department] supervisors determine fit,” Achterhoff said. “My job is to help the supervisors do their job.”
Not all on-campus jobs are posted to Handshake. For example, academic tutoring and teacher’s assistant positions are filled by the department without going through Handshake. The information desk does not have a Handshake application.
Photo credit: Joya Breems