Hiring a Student: 8 Things to Do to Make it Work

Don’t worry; it’s simpler than you think! Hiring a student is possible! Here are 8 things you can do.

Employee Experience
Employer Branding

Anne-Marie Battista

Tuesday, September 16, 2014


Haven’t you heard? The next generation is arriving to the workforce, and they are motivated and enthusiastic about it, too! Yet, before they can be deemed ready, they must get some professional experience. In this respect, are you one of the generous organizations that hires students? Whether you already do or are considering the project, here are 8 things to do when hiring a student to make sure it works.

Recruiting students in a few easy steps

Identify your needs

When creating a position, you always need to identify your needs first: desired profile, allocated budget, assigned tasks and required availability in terms of weekly hours. Make sure you know the internal policies related to the hiring of students; like compensation, number of working hours, work conditions, as well as the permissions you can give them; such as network access or a computer connected to the network.

Depending on the magnitude and the complexity of the work to be done, it will be easier for you to decide whether you need to recruit a college or a university student. But please, forget about only assigning them photocopying duties! Students can accomplish a lot more than simple administrative tasks, so dare to entrust them with more complicated ones.

Moreover, students acquire and develop quite a bit of practical skills in technical college programs or when they receive an attestation of college studies (AEC), which makes them prime candidates in many fields. As for university students, they have keener ability to analyse and a more methodological approach to work organization.

Take their hiring seriously

When hiring a student, certain organizations encourage and prefer hiring their employees’ children. Even though your organization does not have a policy to that effect, you can easily make it one of your recruiting techniques. Also, do not hesitate to contact school department coordinators, or people in charge of student associations, as they will be able to recommend candidates based on the offered position.

Once your have targeted potential students, have them go through a hiring process similar to the one a regular employee would have to go through: interview, test or meeting. This exercise will establish the seriousness of the process, and it will allow you to select the candidate who best meets your standards.

Preparing for the arrival of a student in your workplace

Ensuring the student’s safety in your organization

Each field has its lot of risks concerning work-related accidents and illnesses. The student, who is hired by your organization to accomplish certain tasks, is not at any less risk than anyone else in the workplace.

In this regard, make sure to consult official documentation ahead of time and be sure to understand all the subtleties, especially the Act respecting industrial accidents and occupational diseases. It is your responsibility as an employer to fulfill your duties regarding occupational health and safety.

Determine the conditions and detail them in a contract

Take the time to establish a written agreement; a signed contract in which the student’s conditions of employment will be stipulated.

On one hand, doing so will convey the seriousness of the procedure and will allow you to access the student’s file in institutional archives. On the other hand, the contract will serve as a reference point for the employer in case disciplinary measures must be taken.

However, the last thing you want to do is to intimidate students; the point is to show them that despite their particular status, the job offered by your organization is important and must be taken seriously.

Plan training sessions and information meetings

Students must be aware of how much will be asked of them in order to deliver the work quality you are expecting.  In this regard, plan training sessions, no matter how short they may be, that will inform students of their different tasks. You can also consider showing them how certain machines work, as well as explaining the logic behind certain procedures.

Moreover, you can organize meetings between the student and the main people he/she will be working with. Hence, you will be able to explain the internal work organization as well as introduce the student to your co-workers which will allow them to quickly explain their duties. Don’t forget that when hiring a student, you implicitly agree to contribute to his/her training – take advantage of every opportunity to do so.

You can also plan a meeting with the student in which you will address the “company’s code of conduct”. You can then talk about certain topics like punctuality, work ethic, company values, organizational culture, and dress code. Instead of assuming, take the time to clearly discuss those things with the student – a young and knowledgeable employee is twice as valuable (and will avoid youthful blunders). It is also important to present the organization’s regulations to students, such as confidentiality and Internet policies, as well as security measures, if there are any.

In certain organizations, human resources are in charge of organizing these training sessions, whereas in others, managers are responsible for them. Check with your HR managers before making any decisions.

Prepare their work environment

What is more reassuring than feeling welcomed and accepted in a warm environment? Before students arrive, plan their work space out: a desk on which they will find a working computer (which can be quite a luxury in certain organizations!), a telephone if necessary, and some basic supplies such as notebooks, pencils, and a calculator.

Make sure to obtain all the necessary permissions that may be required: a magnetic identity card, network access, and an email address. By getting all these things done before their arrival, you will be able to optimize their presence by focusing on their training and the tasks assigned to them.

Guide and mentor students while they are employed

Make time for them and be patient

It would be futile to expect students to have the reflexes of an experienced employee. In this respect, you need to adjust your expectations accordingly and be sure the student is aware of said expectations.

As previously mentioned, hiring a student is, in a sense, an act of professional mentoring. You will need to provide support, training sessions and feedback for the student.

So, plan to schedule some time for mentoring, thereby avoiding leaving students completely on their own without any help. You can also schedule weekly meetings or set up another system that will allow you to give students constructive feedback as well as interact with them during their stay.

Keep an open mind

Don’t forget that these are students who will continue to grow in their personal lives and career paths. Some will arrive motivated and fired up, and will insist on showing you their ideas or will reveal themselves to be overconfident. Others will be mortified at the thought of making a mistake or will seem to be indifferent to everything around them.

However, before condemning their behaviour, make sure you know what the cause is – age, personality, or awkwardness – it will then be easier for you to intervene if necessary.

Finally, remember that when hiring a student, you are presenting him/her with a golden learning opportunity. Who knows, you might meet the same students you hired one day as they continue on their professional paths, and because you saw them progress in their duties in the past, you will have a little idea of their capacities.

That being said, after the experience of hiring a student, you could very well be the person who developed the most.  After all, isn’t every employee an eternal student?

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