Online application system draws crowd

By Melissa Blake

As a result of the implementation of the online application system for NIU student jobs, 17 jobs are listed on its employment page and 5,583 applications are on file, Human Resources officials said.

The online system was implemented in February 2003 as a way to “streamline the student hiring process,” said Steve Cunningham, associate vice president for administration and human resources. Its development was a combined effort of the Student Employment Office and the Human Resources’ Tech Team, he said.

“[NIU’s system] is among the relatively few available among the Illinois public universities,” Cunningham said.

The system is similar to other online application systems, but it is tailored specifically to the students and NIU’s departments. Students submit applications through a step-by-step process. Once the application is submitted, it appears on the department side of the application system.

“The department can view the applications online and reply to students via the system,” Cunningham said. “It is the prime source of jobs for all departments on campus.”

Within the first six months of its implementation, nearly 2,000 applications were received, he said.

One of its chief advantages is its aspect of flexibility, Cunningham said. Students can apply for jobs when time permits – sometimes even before they return to school in the fall. And it also allows department flexibility in that when they view the applications, they can choose from a wider range of applicants.

Some NIU student workers have not used the online system or had trouble navigating it.

Junior journalism major Mary Cooper, a cashier in the Holmes Student Center University Bookstore, applied for a lot of jobs online and had trouble with the system.

“If you think you’re going to get a call back, you’re not,” she said. She thinks employers do not check the system enough. Cooper recommends going to the actual department and inquiring about possible jobs. She found her cashier job while shopping in the bookstore. The store was looking for 23 cashiers for the January book rush. Cooper decided to keep her job after the rush season ended.

“It’s convenient because employers consider your school schedule,” she said. The pay is the only downside, she said.

The Office of the Ombudsman receives concerns each year about on-campus employment, said University Ombudsman Tim Griffin, including reports of “verbal altercations with co-workers to allegedly unfair or rude supervisors to terminations.”

“We haven’t received any specific concerns from students about the online application system,” he said.

There are currently 3,340 student employees, Cunningham said. The numbers have remained pretty consistent over the years.

“Student help is highly valued by university departments,” he said.

For more information on the online system or to search student jobs, visit the Web site at