Real World Experience Right on Campus

November 18, 2019

By Rob Humphreys ’16MBA

Happiness Omochere ’20 carrying a cardboard fox cutout.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Whether it’s managing social media content for the College’s Office of Marketing or running the box office at the Annie Russell Theatre, on-campus student employment opportunities at Rollins yield big results.

The radio station manager at WPRK. The help desk employee troubleshooting a frozen laptop. The writing coach turning B’s into A’s.

Without student employees, Rollins couldn’t function as we know it. Conversely, without on-campus jobs, each year more than 700 Tars would miss out on golden career opportunities.

“Student employees play an essential role in the success of our institution,” says Denisa Metko, assistant director of student employment in Rollins’ Center for Career & Life Planning. “They serve in an array of positions, including lab techs, student media coordinators, career ambassadors, community engagement program assistants, and more. New jobs are created each year with the goal of expanding learning opportunities and building on-demand skills.”

On-campus employment offers Rollins students benefits such as job exploration, professional experience and training, mentorship opportunities, career and social networking, and financial aid.

Most department-funded jobs pay $9.50 to $10 an hour and are eligible for up to 20 hours per week. Other roles, like resident assistant and housing manager, receive higher stipends and housing discounts. Students meeting financial requirements can earn up to $3,000 per academic year for federally funded work studies.

“Alleviating financial burdens is indeed a goal of the program, combined with creating spaces of support and care,” says Metko. “Transferable skill development, however, is at the core of our program, and every one of our jobs promises the development of a wide range of skills. In some cases, the jobs tie directly to a student’s major, while in other cases they allow students to explore areas outside their majors.”

Regardless of passion or profession, Rollins students are constantly perfecting the art of parlaying their on-campus jobs into productive careers. Three alumni and three undergrads tell us, in their own words, why this type of experience is so valuable.

Shaffaq Noor ’15
Photo by Scott Cook.

Shaffaq Noor ’18

Computer science and environmental studies major Shaffaq Noor ’18 worked as an IT inventory assistant and voice and network technician in Rollins’ IT department. Coupled with her coursework, this experience helped her found a computer lab with her sister that is helping bring the internet to women in rural Pakistan. Noor now works as technical project manager at StackPath. 

Making Connections

“My on-campus job allowed me to link my degree to my field, giving me an understanding of how I would be able to apply the knowledge and skills I was learning in the classroom to my future profession. My computer science courses provided me with the necessary problem-solving skills, and my job allowed me to apply those skills in parallel.”

Gaining Perspective

“Working at Rollins opened multiple doors, giving me insight on how large the IT field is, the different avenues for advancement, and a bigger picture of the full operation. Interacting with all the various groups within IT gave me an understanding of the skills and knowledge needed for each role, which allowed me to decide what career I wanted to pursue and what skills I needed to refine.”

What It Really Takes

“My current job requires a blend of technical and soft skills to ensure all projects progress smoothly from start to end, and Rollins was vital in this regard. I learned the importance of planning and communication, which are key components of my current day-to-day responsibilities, and the IT department was consistently supportive of my career growth and future endeavors, which was really beneficial for me to get to where I am today.”

Maria Gutierrez ’16 at the WPRK radio station on campus.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Maria Gutierrez ’16

A native of Cali, Colombia, Maria Gutierrez ’16 majored in international affairs at Rollins’ Hamilton Holt School after transferring from Valencia College. Managing a staff of 12 and overseeing more than 80 live shows and 120 DJs, Gutierrez served as the promotions director and station manager for Rollins’ radio station, WPRK 91.5 FM, which first aired in 1952 and continues to deliver the best in basement radio. She now works as an associate producer at NPR in Washington, D.C.

Finding a Voice

“My time at WPRK was crucial to my career development. I was a radio DJ for about three years. In that basement, I learned how to operate a board while also curating a live show. All of this helped me develop my own voice as a creative person in audio production and journalism and taught me the management, recruiting, and event-planning skills that came with being the promotions director and station manager.”

Defining a Direction

“My experience at WPRK helped me get an internship with the Department of State in Uruguay, which was amazing. It was during my time abroad that I realized how much I missed what WPRK offered me on the regular—an opportunity to be creative. That’s when I decided to make a shift toward audio work. Spending three years at WPRK definitely helped me land an opportunity at NPR because preemptively getting broadcasting and audio production experience proved that I was passionate about radio.”

Building Relationships

“My favorite memory of working on campus was being able to hang out, countless times, in the basement with my colleagues. I appreciate how programs like WPRK help all students at Rollins be part of campus life.”

Alexandria Vazquez ’10 in the costume shop at the Orlando Repertory Theater.
Photo by Ricardo Rolon.

Alexandria Vazquez ’10

Theatre arts major Alexandria Vasquez ’10 concentrated her studies on design and technology and worked in the costume shop at Rollins’ Annie Russell Theatre—Florida’s longest continually operating theater—to gain hands-on experience in her chosen field. Post-Rollins, Vazquez got her MFA in costume design and technology at West Virginia University and worked in theaters across the country before settling into her current role as the costume shop manager at the Orlando Repertory Theatre.

A Strong Foundation

“Some of my best memories were in the Annie Russell and Fred Stone theatres. My experiences at Rollins were relevant and helped prepare me for my master’s in fine arts and an eventual career. So many hardworking professors and staff shaped me as an artist and taught me the tools to take my craft further.”

Freedom to Explore

“During my time as a theatre major, I was able to gather the beginnings of a portfolio and take my work and skills to other jobs in the summer months. Rollins gave me a great opportunity to receive individualized, hands-on attention in my field while becoming a well-rounded student. Throughout my undergrad years, I also gained confidence and a keen eye for design and details.”

Meaningful Mentors

“I had numerous mentors in all of my theatre professors at Rollins, but I had a special place helping our costume shop manager, Seth Schrager, as his work-study student. I could often be found organizing stock, helping take notes in fittings, or helping build shows between classes and coursework. These days, I spend my time creating magic through my leadership as costume shop manager at the Orlando Repertory Theatre, and I’m also a freelance costume designer.”

Happiness Omochere ’20 managing a #RollinsLife event on Mills Lawn for the College’s social media channels..
Photo by Scott Cook.

Happiness Omochere ’20

Exchange student from Ireland Happiness Omochere ’20 worked as a social media intern in Rollins’ Office of Marketing not only creating social media content and learning the importance of “social listening,” but also diving into the world of analytics and reporting. The political science major is now working as a privacy operations specialist at Facebook in Dublin.

A Bevy of Resources

“I spent my junior year at Rollins as an exchange student from Maynooth University in Ireland, serving as the Office of Marketing’s social media intern. Some of my duties included managing the student social media ambassador program, creating social media content, monitoring social networks, and preparing monthly reports. In addition, the Center for Career & Life Planning helped me land a job as a legal clerk at Winter Park law firm Irvin & Irvin.”

Charting a Course

“Working as a social media intern made me realize I wanted a career that was constantly changing, dynamic, and innovating. Thanks to my Rollins experiences, I was recruited by Facebook to begin work over the summer as a digital rights operations intern, which was a perfect fit because the position is at the intersection of law and technology.”

On-the-Ground Guidance

“I’ll always be grateful for my supervisor at Rollins, Director of Digital Marketing Laura Kern, for pushing me to do my very best and providing constructive criticism to help strengthen my skills. Through my employment at Rollins, I learned skills like marketing, social media management, and optimization—and I even got to be one of the first to test out the augmented reality Fox Day app!”

Allison Wilson ’20 handling tickets at the Annie Russell theatre.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Allison Wilson ’20

As the box office associate at the Annie Russell Theatre, Allison Wilson ’20 gets to see a different side of what’s involved in putting on a successful theater performance. The theatre and English double major aspires to combine her passions in the field of arts administration and management. 

Unlocking Potential

“As a theatre major, I knew a lot about what went on backstage and onstage, but less about what went into making theater such a magical moment for audiences the minute they enter the auditorium. Through my job as a box office associate, which includes writing letters to our faithful donors and generating material for show posters and advertisements, I have gotten the chance to see how customer service and marketing are just as much an art as what happens on the stage.”

A Natural Network

“All the responsibilities I have accumulated in this position definitely opened doors, including internships at the Orlando Ballet and Palm Beach Symphony. Our box office manager, Chelsea Hilend ’10 ’18MBA, has been an amazing mentor throughout this process. I have gone to her many times for advice on where to look for internships and forging connections in the Orlando arts community, which has been excellent for resume-building, especially as a soon-to-be graduate.”

Benefits of All Kinds

“Without on-campus employment, Rollins would not have been possible for me to afford. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity to serve as a student employee my entire four years at the College.”

Giovanni Figueiredo ’21 networking outside the Rice Family Pavilion.
Photo by Scott Cook.

Giovanni Figueiredo ’21

Economics and business management double major Giovanni Figueiredo ’21 delved into the world of finance as a prospect research analyst for Rollins’ Office of Institutional Advancement, where he has solidified his plans to become a certified financial analyst and hedge fund manager. He’s now working as an investment associate at brokerage giant Marcus & Millichap.

Applying Knowledge

“As a prospect research analyst in the Office of Institutional Advancement, I was often required to apply analytical thinking to my daily tasks, together with business, accounting, and financial knowledge. I definitely had to use the information I acquired in my economics and business classes to perform well in this role.”

The Right Path

“Having this experience helped guide me when I was still indecisive about what career I wanted to pursue and helped me land two internships. Since I was exposed to things like valuing private businesses, estimating potential donors’ net worth, and fundraising events, it really aligned with my passion for the financial markets and helped boost my confidence about choosing the right career.”

Community Connections

“I’m originally from Brazil, but two of my childhood friends were already at Rollins back when I applied. When I visited the campus, I fell in love with the environment. Working on campus definitely helped me achieve a little more financial independence, and it also gave me an excellent opportunity to network with people active in the Rollins and Winter Park communities.”

Students wearing caps and gowns walk to a commencement ceremony on Rollins College’s campus.

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