SCIENCE DIVISION UNDERGRADUATE WORK-STUDY RESEARCH INITIATIVE

What PIs Need to Know

Work-Study is a program that allows employers to hire students with financial need at a reduced cost. The program pays one-half of a student’s wages, and the employer pays the remaining balance. The work-study program is a win-win for employers and students, it’s easy to navigate and has been shown to boost students’ retention. The program’s main goal is to provide an incentive to employers to provide opportunities for students to obtain job experience in areas closely related to the student’s career or educational goals. The information on hiring work-study students is laid out nicely on the Career Center website Recruitment and Hiring. When a PI identifies a position they would like to fill and funding for the position, the PI creates an ER posting with a job description, emails their accountant to inform them, then selects a student from a list of applicants. The ER system website provides all the details in an easy to follow format ER System Help and Information. Many job postings are shown on the ER Website, which are good to look at before crafting a new job posting – see what is out there and how to advertise. Remember, that the Career Center Team is available to help employers navigate through the system and help with all aspects of recruitment and hiring.

What Students Need to Know

Work-Study jobs are those that are partially subsidized for students with financial need. General information about the work-study program at UCSC can be found here: Work-study Employment Guide. Students that qualify for work-study can find information on the maximum amount of their award listed under “My Aid Award” on the FAFSA website. See this link for more details Work-Study/ Non-Work Study. The Career Center at UCSC keeps an updated list of work-study job listings: Work-study Job Listings. Keep in mind that just because a student has a work-study award, that does not mean they are guaranteed a job. Students have to apply, and sometimes the process is competitive. That is why it is essential to attend workshops on resume and cover letter writing, interviewing skills, networking, and meet with a career advisor. These are free services offered by the Career Center at UCSC.

Program Elements 

This work-study research initiative has several program elements. The primary incentive is to create meaningful research opportunities for work-study students. This would allow students to be active members of a research lab and conduct relevant research while being supported financially. All labs are unique, therefore there are many ways in which a research lab can incorporate work-study students to provide opportunities for growth and learning.

Student Mentorship

Besides creating meaningful research opportunities that can provide some financial stability, students must have a healthy support system. One way is through membership in the Research Affiliate for Diversity (RAD) program offered by the STEM Diversity. Students who register for RAD are provided access to professional development workshops, networking, and tutoring. With access to these resources, not only will students grow as scientists but also as professionals.

Faculty Facilitators

The 2021-22 faculty facilitators are Martha Zuñiga, Ruth Murray-Clay and Roxanne Beltran.

An additional program element is faculty facilitators who will support both students in work-study positions and their faculty mentors (PIs). There are three facilitators, one from each of these areas: Biomedical Sciences (MCD, METX, CHEM), Physical Sciences (PHYS, MATH, ASTR, CHEM, EPS), Environmental Sciences (EEB, OS, EPS, METX) who have had prior experience working with and mentoring work-study students in their labs. To help foster community among the work-study researchers, these facilitators will lead one or two meetings per quarter to bring together student researchers for socializing, community building activities, and mentoring.

Faculty facilitators will also organize meetings with PIs once per quarter to provide a peer-peer resource. There are several goals of these meetings. One is to answer questions for other PIs who are thinking about hiring work-study student(s). Another is to conduct mentorship training through CITL and talk about mentoring strategies, such as guiding students from lab assistants to senior thesis students. Mentorship is a key tool for success in creating a great lab environment for the PI and the student. These meetings will also seek to clarify graduate students’ roles in working with undergraduates in the lab to further encourage a good work environment. Another aim of these meetings is to discuss opportunities for increased professional development and networking for students, for example, to attend undergraduate symposiums to share their research and experiences.

PBS DEI Committee

The PBS DEI committee’s role in the undergraduate work-study research initiative will be to select faculty facilitators annually based on a self-nomination process. The committee will also support the faculty facilitators by making recommendations and offering logistical support in its implementation. Support will include but is not limited to annual surveys to check programs’ progress and success. These surveys will allow the committee to make improvements and changes to the program deemed necessary. The PBS DEI Committee will conduct quarterly meetings with faculty facilitators to track progress, offer support, and address any concerns.