Chuck Thomas, facility coordinator for UI Recreational Services, oversees 50 students. Thomas was nominated for the Student Supervisor of the Year award. We asked him to share some of his insights on contributing to student success.
What responsibilities does your position entail?
As facility coordinator for the Field House and Recreation Building, I manage the day-to-day operations in both of those buildings. As far as the student side goes, I employ about 50 students. I run the maintenance scheduling of those facilities and make sure everything is running smoothly.
What is your favorite part about your job?
I really like being around sports. This position a good informal way to do this, but being able to supervise students is the main part. Students are at a place in their lives where they need the tools to succeed after they leave college and are employed elsewhere. Even if it's not directly related to what they want to do once they leave here, there are tools that each individual can take with them when they leave. It is extremely rewarding for us to watch them grow and succeed afterwards.
How are you students making connections between the classroom and their job?
As with any job they learn time management skills, and customer service is a big deal with their work because they interact with hundreds of different people each day. They learn conflict resolution; they're able to handle certain situations and able to work with what they have to find a solution for whatever the issue may be.
How do you keep students motivated?
I like to ask them a lot of questions, just about their personal life. I know a lot of times, especially if you oversee a lot of student employees, it's kind of hard to get to know them on a personal level. But I try to ask them how their day went, how their weekend was, basically just as much information as I can, so that when we are talking about other things, maybe not necessarily related to work, we can have those conversations since I know a little bit about them.
I also try to get them active in our field. There's a lot of fun activities that go on so I try to get them to participate as a team together and I even join if they let me!
What philosophy do you live by when working with students?
I like to try and give student employees the tools to succeed and then back-off. I believe in thorough training and letting them go from there. But I also let them know that if they do need assistance that I have an open door policy, and they can come and talk to me about whatever, even if it's not related to work. I like to give them autonomy to do their job.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
One thing that I would like to remind students is that a lot of times they think that Rec Services is only the CRWC, but we have four other facilities. Just try and go out to the other places, branch out. There's a lot more that we offer, other than just what's at the CRWC.