Supervising Student Assistants


Students and staff member smiling

The Career Development Center (CDC) has cultivated training resources, videos, and supplemental handouts that are designed to enhance workplace learning for current CSULB student assistants. To ensure that students are prepared to enter the workforce upon graduation, it is important that supervisors assist student assistants in the development of competencies needed to become career-ready.

Creating a Positive Workplace Culture

Student assistants are extremely talented and play an essential part in providing support across university departments. Since each student comes with different sets of skills, values, and backgrounds, it is important to create a positive workplace that is encouraging and suitable for all. To assist supervisors in fostering a positive workplace culture from day one, the CDC has organized the following training and orientation resources that are conducive to the development of characteristics such as good judgment, dependability, initiative, and responsibility.


The following checklist provides a process that can assist you in guiding your student assistant throughout the various stages of their employment.

Entry & Onboarding

  • For a smooth transition throughout the onboarding process:
  • Ensure completion of all hiring paperwork
  • Confirm student schedules
  • Prepare student workspace logistics
  • Provide access to the necessary technology
  • Distribute name tags for student workers
  • Review Policies and Procedures with students:
    • Campus Student Handbook
    • Department Student Handbook
    • Review Mandated Reporter Form (if required)
    • FERPA
    • Confidentiality


To help students acclimate to their new role in the department, here are a few considerations:

  • Have student employees review the department website
  • Provide:
    • Department Overview
    • Mission/Vision
    • Organizational Chart
  • Discuss expectations and job responsibilities
  • Share Performance Evaluation Form
  • Review Student Employee Learning Plan

Semester Evaluation & Feedback

Upon the completion of the semester:

  • Evaluate job performance each semester (consistent with prior feedback)
  • Consider a feedback loop throughout the semester (daily/weekly/monthly) to evaluate student progress and promote growth
  • Review Student Employee Learning Plan for feedback

Student Recognition Opportunities

Student employee recognition & appreciation ideas:

  • Student Employee Appreciation Week (NSEA) in April
  • National Student Day, October 15th
  • Department Celebrations
  • Finals Gift Bags
  • Graduation Recognition

Exit/Preparation for Departure

In preparation for a student's successful departure:

  • Schedule exit interview
    • Final resume review
  • Resignation
    • Student should submit a letter of resignation
    • Supervisor should follow departmental policy
  • Termination
    • Supervisor should follow departmental policy

Professionalism is having a high standard of professional ethics, behavior, and work activities while carrying out one’s profession. Here are ten ways student assistants can incorporate professionalism in the workplace.

Ten Ways to Be Professional:

Demonstrate Competence

  • Be good at what you do
    • Observe the workplace
    • Pay attention to how things work (even if it doesn't directly involve you
    • Absorb information about the services your department offers

Be Reliable

  • Be prompt
  • Follow directions
  • Be someone who can be relied upon to do a good job
  • Build a strong track record

Be Honest

  • Be forthcoming
  • Pay attention to your mistakes
    • Use them as learning opportunities
    • Figure out where they came from and how to avoid them

Show Integrity

  • Self-awareness is important
    • You have principles and your actions are consistent/align with your beliefs
    • Do you value hard work and are you a hard worker?

Be Positive

  • Have an upbeat attitude
  • Always consider how you can solve a problem or contribute to a solution
  • No one likes to be around negative people
    • You don’t want to establish a reputation for being a negative person

Support Others

  • Be a team player
  • Part of being a team player is being a problem solver
  • As a team player, you are contributing to a solution and to the success of the team

Be Proactive

  • Invest in your own career
    • Ask for feedback, don’t wait until the performance evaluation
    • Don’t be defensive, value critical feedback and use it to help you improve
  • Find a mentor or someone more experienced and talk to that person regularly to gain a broader perspective
  • Pay attention to the types of tasks you are asked to do
    • You Find a pattern in the importance of those tasks and you will be able to anticipate what to expect in the future
    • Take initiative when applicable and you will increase your value as an employee

Be Respectful

  • Treat all people as if they matter and their role is equally as important as yours
  • Pay attention to the people you respect
    • What is it about them that you respect?
    • Or the opposite, what is it about people you don’t respect?
    • Observe and learn how they behave so that you can apply or not apply that same behavior in your interaction with others

Stay Focused

  • Do not let your private life have an impact on your work performance
  • Do not spend a lot of time at work on personal business
  • Prioritize
    • Focus on what is important
    • What do you need to accomplish?

Listen Carefully

  • Stop talking. You cannot listen if you are talking.
  • Show the talker you want to listen. Let people feel heard.
  • Remove distractions - when someone is speaking to you, give them your full attention.
  • Be patient - avoid interrupting the other person.
  • Concentrate on understanding the main points of the conversation and what is the other person is “really” saying
  • React to ideas, not to the person.
  • Avoid jumping to conclusions. Remain open to new or conflicting ideas.
  • Ask questions. Ask about their thoughts, feelings, and expectations.
  • Control your anger. You are more likely to misinterpret what the other person is saying when you are angry.
  • Stop talking. This is the first and last because all the other recommendations, guidelines, or points depend on your silence.

Connecting Work and Career

On-campus employment is often one of the first opportunities where students can gain skills, tools, and competencies that are beneficial for their own career goals. To promote personal growth and connect on-campus employment to real-world careers, the Career Development Center has prepared the following resources to assist students in identifying and developing valuable competencies and skills which will help them to excel at their current on-campus position and thrive in the workforce upon graduation.

Career readiness is the attainment and demonstration of requisite competencies that broadly prepare college graduates for a successful transition into the workplace.

Career Readiness Self-Assessment

Student assistants would complete the Career Readiness Self-Assessment PDF to see what professional competencies they need to develop and practice to be career-ready and experience workplace success.

5 = Expert: You’re a pro and use this skill on daily basis.
4 = Proficient: You’re ahead and fluent in this skill and use it on a regular basis.
3 = Capable: You’re comfortable using this skill and do so often.
2 = Emerging: You use this skill on a basic level, but have plenty of room to use it more.
1 = Learner: You’re just starting to explore using this skill.

See sample below
Career Readiness Topics and Descriptions Your Score:
COMMUNICATION: Clearly and effectively exchange information, ideas, facts, and perspectives with persons inside and outside of an organization. The ability to deliver information in person, in writing, and in a digital world. 4
TEAMWORK: Build and maintain collaborative relationships to work effectively toward common goals, while appreciating diverse viewpoints and shared responsibilities. The ability to manage one’s emotions and conflict with others while contributing towards a common goal. 5
LEADERSHIP: Recognize and capitalize on personal and team strengths to achieve organizational goals. The ability to use empathetic skills and a positive attitude to guide and influence others while reaching a shared goal through adaptability and effective decision-making. 3
CRITICAL THINKING: Identify and respond to needs based upon an understanding of situational context and logical analysis of relevant information. 4
PROFESSIONALISM: Knowing work environments differ greatly, understand and demonstrate effective work habits, and act in the interest of the larger community and workplace. 5
EQUITY & INCLUSION: Demonstrate the awareness, attitude, knowledge, and skills required to equitably engage and include people from different local and global cultures. Engage in anti-racist practices that actively challenge the systems, structures, and policies of racism. 5
TECHNOLOGY: Understand and leverage technologies ethically to enhance efficiencies, complete tasks, and accomplish goals. 1
CAREER & SELF-DEVELOPMENT: Proactively develop oneself and one’s career through continual personal and professional learning, awareness of one’s strengths and weaknesses, navigation of career opportunities, and networking to build relationships within and without one’s organization. 3

Are You Career Ready? Career Readiness Self-Assessment Score

Now that you have reflected on what professional competencies you need to develop and practice to be career-ready and experience workplace success, use the strategies outlined below to develop personalized career goals. Remember this is your journey and career.

See sample below

Your Score: 30

Levels of Competencies Scores Strategies
Thriving 41-50
  • Develop your professional brand and utilize LinkedIn to research your desired career path
  • Pursue your interests and engage in projects in your chosen field. Generate ideas and content that may benefit the field and publish your work (e.g. blog, conference presentations)
  • Maintain a strong network of support with one or more mentors that you can seek advice from
  • Create a 3-5 year career plan outlining specific goals and steps to reach them
Achieving 31-40
  • Attend events to grow and develop your network (e.g networking mixers, conferences, professional associations)
  • Narrow down your interests and identify an area of specialization in your field (i.e. Biology, specialty in Stem Cell Research)
  • Develop a 1-2 year career plan with help from an advisor/counselor/mentor
  • Complete a challenging project that will help you develop your strengths
Aspiring 21-30
  • Join additional organizations and attend events outside your comfort zone
  • Meet with a career advisor/counselor to develop a career plan for the next year
  • Seek mentors and conduct informational interviews to explore your interest and help determine your next steps
  • Attend workshops and educational programs to dive deeper into topics that interest you
Emerging 11-20
  • Get involved on campus and seek leadership opportunities or involvement in projects
  • Join or create an event/project that aligns with your interest
  • Learn about yourself by completing a career assessment and meet with a career counselor to have your results interpreted
  • Craft a career plan for the next 6 months to 1 year that targets the areas you seek to develop
Growing 1-11
  • Visit faculty office hours and attend workshops to gain knowledge and skills
  • Attend events on topics that interest you on campus and in your local community
  • Develop short-term goals for each semester with help from your advisor or career counselor
  • Become familiar with and leverage campus resources related to the areas you wish to improve in (e.g I will focus on my writing and attend the University Writing Center)

According to the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), there are seven core competencies employers associate with a candidate’s career readiness. Have student assistants select at least three of the seven core competencies to compare to their current job duties using the Career Readiness Competencies Tasks PDF Worksheet.

See sample below
Career Readiness Competencies Skills Tasks required for the position (Use job description as a resource)
Critical Thinking Accurately summarize and interpret data with an awareness of personal biases that may impact outcomes. Proactively anticipate needs and prioritize action steps. N/A
Professionalism Maintain a positive personal brand in alignment with organization and personal career values. Demonstrate dependability (e.g., report consistently for work or meetings). Maintain confidential documents and data. Ensure saving student information of University-approved applications.
Career & Self-Development Develop plans and goals for one’s future career. Identify areas for continual growth while pursuing and applying feedback. Seek and embrace development opportunities. N/A
Communication Employ active listening, persuasion, and influencing skills. Promptly inform relevant others when needing guidance. Greet and assist students, alumni, and campus personnel via well-written emails; answer questions and provide appropriate referrals.
Technology Use technology to improve the efficiency and productivity of their work. Quickly adapt to new or unfamiliar technologies. Learn to host Zoom meetings and 2 advanced features.
Leadership Inspire, persuade, and motivate self and others under a shared vision. Use innovative thinking to go beyond traditional methods Plan, initiate, manage, complete, and evaluate projects. N/A
Teamwork Employ personal strengths, knowledge, and talents to complement those of others. Exercise the ability to compromise and be agile. Collaborate with others to achieve common goals. N/A
Equity & Inclusion Solicit and use feedback from multiple cultural perspectives to make inclusive and equity-minded decisions. Keep an open mind to diverse ideas and new ways of thinking. Identify resources and eliminate barriers resulting from individual and systemic racism, inequities, and biases. N/A

The Learning Plan is a tool that supervisors can use to help guide student assistants in setting and managing learning goals and developing relevant career competencies while accomplishing work objectives. This tool also provides student assistants with opportunities to participate in activities where they can learn about careers from real-time professionals, further develop their resumes, learn more about campus resources, and engage in activities to reflect on their overall employment experience. The Learning Plan PDF File consists of the following components:

  • Learning Objectives
  • Informational Interviews
  • Resume Review
  • Department/Campus Resources
  • Reflection
See sample below
Learning Objective: What am I going to learn? How: How am I going to learn it? Measurement: How will I know I learned it? Timeline: What date will I have it completed by?
Learn how the Employer Engagement team engages with the needs of CSU Long Beach’s student population. Attend employer relations team meetings, help plan an employer relations events Share with my supervisor how the employer relations event met the student's needs. Speak with students at the event to get their feedback. Dec 15, 2018
To understand the standards for writing social media posts Training from my supervisor, observation of similar social media sights, research effective practices Based on feedback from my supervisor and the number of likes and comments from followers Dec 1, 2018

Essential Skills Training is an interactive training program designed to prepare students for the workforce with training in the top hiring skills. These skills were identified by NACE through a survey of 150 employers nationwide. To learn more about this program, visit Essential Skills Training