by Edmond Ortiz
Students gain relevant professional experience through Jobs4Cats
While preparing for his freshman year at Texas State University, Pablo Montes wasted no time looking for a job. Shortly before his first semester began, Montes logged onto the Jobs4Cats system and applied to all open positions, focusing on work-study opportunities.
“Once I moved onto campus, the pressure to find a job intensified,” Montes says. “I even went to Career Services to seek help with the job search, completely unaware I would end up working there.”
Montes is one of several hundred Texas State students who seek financial aid every year in the form of on- and off-campus positions through Jobs4Cats. He spent his college career employed in the Career Services office, most recently as the welcome desk team leader. He graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in psychology.
Dr. Sheyenne Krysher, assistant director for operations in Career Services, says an average of 500 students capitalize on work-study opportunities each year for work-study and regular wage positions. More than 20,000 students have used Jobs4Cats in the past year.
Krysher says Jobs4Cats helps many students who need financial assistance and want to get a jump on relevant professional experience. “It’s the most central area for the job-seeking student. There are part-time jobs for students looking to get by, and jobs for students looking for something long term,” she says.
The work-study program determines a participating student’s eligibility by evaluating financial need. Montes says that his job search was difficult. “The job being related to my major had little to do with which openings I applied to — I was just in a rush to find a job and start getting paid,” he says.
His on-campus job allowed him to develop vital technical and communication skills and to network with people who could help him after college. He plans to pursue a master’s degree in counseling.
Career Services provides various work-study opportunities to benefit participating students and the campus organization that is employing them, Krysher says. “There’s enough of a variety of jobs that reflect the needs of our departments.” For example, work-study students at the Meadows Center for Water and the Environment navigate boats and help with tours for visitors.
Off-campus jobs have helped students such as Kaelin Tilden, a public relations major who’s set to receive her bachelor’s degree in December. Tilden has most of her college costs covered, but she also applied for scholarships and browsed relevant work-study positions. “I was looking for stuff I’d be interested in,” she says. She eventually landed a position with the San Marcos Main Street Program.
Tilden says her Main Street supervisors have been cooperative and understanding about her academic demands, and she has learned much on the job. Since Tilden began working at Main Street in October 2016, she has amassed various skills, from doing graphics design and helping with event planning to handling social media. “I’m proud to have been part of work-study. I’ve gotten real-world experiences, working directly with businesses, encouraging them to participate (with the city),” she adds.
Tilden says she feels if she had not gone through work-study, she likely would have gotten a regular-wage job not tied to her major. “That isn’t bad to support yourself, but (Main Street) has opened doors for me,” she adds.
Krysher says an online platform such as Jobs4Cats helps students to find relevant paid work and teaches them valuable job-seeking skills. Jobs4Cats also benefits partner employers who seek local, talented young adults eager to learn skills applicable to their future careers.
“It opens up students to true equal opportunities. It’s leveling the playing field,” she says. ✪