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Ohio State Student Safety Service seeks ‘right person’ for open positions

Ohio State’s Student Safety Service will be hiring more student employees soon.

Lantern file photo

The Ohio State Student Safety Service is hiring, but the program isn’t just looking to fill empty spots.

The Student Safety Service, comprised of trained OSU student employees, provides safe transportation around the campus area during the evening and early morning hours for OSU students, faculty and staff.

Sean Bolender, the Student Safety Service program coordinator, said the deadline for applying and the number of people who will be hired are not set in stone.

“We didn’t set a firm (deadline), only that we would be doing the hiring in May,” Bolender said.

Although  the program would ideally fill about 10 to 15 positions during this hiring cycle, “we never just put warm bodies in a spot,” he said.

“We only hire the right person for the job, so it doesn’t matter how many positions we have open,” Bolender said. “Last year around this exact same time, we were looking to hire eight people, (we) had over 50 applicants and only hired two.”

There are about 15 to 20 students on staff already, and the maximum number of employees the program can have is 30. Bolender did not know the number of applicants so far this year.

Bolender said the hiring process is modeled to reflect the OSU police division’s core values, integrity, diversity, innovation, service and respect, so students who are purely looking to make money are usually not the right people for the job.

“You have to want this job for a different reason,” he said.

Students employed by Student Safety Service start off making minimum wage, $7.85 in Ohio, and can earn up to $10 per hour if they are promoted to student management positions.

The hiring process has three rounds, Bolender said. The first round focuses on behavioral questions, the second focuses on situational responses and the third, the unique round called the “work sample test,” assesses what potential employees would do in real-life situations that have happened to Student Safety Service workers in the past.

The work sample test “typically starts at midnight and goes until 3 in the morning,” Bolender said, as an attempt to see whether students are up to the late nights the job requires.

It also gives applicants a chance to drop out of the hiring process.

“Even if we might think you’re a good person for us, we want you to (try out staying up until 3 a.m.) and you can self-select out of the process,” Bolender said.

Some of the students applying said knowing the process is selective makes the job more appealing.

“I understand that it’s a really important job because it deals with other students’ safety,” Kayla Rossman, a third-year in accounting, said. “I’m glad that it’s a challenge. That way, I’ll feel more successful if I do get the job.”

Rossman said the late hours don’t worry her.

“I stay up late anyway, might as well make money while I’m staying up,” she said.

The Student Safety Service tweeted from its account, @OSU_SSS, on May 16 asking for more people to apply: “SSS followers, we could use your help! We’re closing our hiring process soon, but we want more applicants.”

Bolender said the message was posted on Twitter because it reaches a specific group of students.

“I think what’s unique about Twitter is that people are following us because they want to follow us,” he said. “(It’s a) demographic that values safety … (Our Twitter followers are) a bit more safety-minded than others.”

Rossman said the tweet was what called her attention to the open positions.

“I’ve been following (the Student Safety Service Twitter account) for a while. Sometimes they tweet helpful stuff (like) safety tips,” Rossman said.

The program also pushes out emails through certain departments, such as the Fisher College of Business and the Department of Sociology, and posts position openings on OSU’s job search website.

Bolender said the program generally hires twice a year, but that too is a loose guideline because the Student Safety Service has a higher retention rate of its employees than most student jobs, leading to less turnover in some years.

“(The employees) don’t leave prematurely,” he said. “They leave because they’ve graduated and are moving on with their career.”

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