Student Assistants: Help Them Help You


We should all give student assistants more credit. They may only work 10 hours a week, but they accomplish so much in that time – in spite of the fact that they are usually carrying a full course load, participating in student clubs, and trying to maintain a social life while carving out a few hours to sleep.

So, it’s important to give your student assistants the tools they need to make the most of their limited time in your office. Here are some of the resources I find to be the most helpful to an assistant.

The Big Book of Answers

This idea came from my previous job where my predecessor left me bullet points outlining how to tackle some basic tasks. That 10-page document grew into a 3-inch binder – with every task, dimension, contact, and historical fact I knew about the place – by the time I left.

The concept was reincarnated when I took on my event coordinator role here at Georgia Tech, and there are now two versions of this resource: a coordinator version and a student assistant version. Need to find out how to reserve a conference room? We’ve got your contact list. Want to put together a mail campaign? We have a list of hints and navigation tips. A solution book like this not only serves as a general resource for anyone in your department, but it also empowers assistants to find answers on their own, saving you training time.

Event Guides

Every event should have a guide that breaks down each task to be performed. This guide is also the ideal place to list odd contacts, award dimensions, and helpful tips gleaned from hosting functions repeatedly. Such a step-by-step guide will allow assistants to handle tasks with minimal training and supervision, and will also help you remember, from year to year, what improvements to incorporate and which mistakes to avoid. The guide can also be turned into an outline that serves as an event checklist.

Prewritten Email Responses

Every event comes with questions. Many of your guests will ask the same question, but they don’t know that. So, help your assistant answer emails faster and consistently by having prepared responses in a Notepad document for easy reference. As assistants become familiar with a particular event and the proper tone for responding to guests, they can help prepare canned responses for the next time.

What are some tools you provide student assistants to help them with their job responsibilities?