Now in its seventh year of operation, the George A. Smathers Student Wellness Center is the largest employer of students at the University of Miami.
With approximately 300 student employees and 25 different positions available, the Wellness Center offers an opportunity for growth and development in a variety of settings.
Operating under the Department of Wellness and Recreation, the Wellness Center is a beautiful $13.8 million indoor, air conditioned 114,000-square-foot facility that includes a swimming pool, a 10,000-square-foot fitness room, racquetball and squash courts, aerobic facilities, a basketball/volleyball gymnasium, an elevated jogging track and a wellness suite. There are 35,000-square-foot outdoor courts and playing fields. DWR is responsible for many health-oriented programs, including intramural sports, club sports, as well as the Cane Health Assessment and Motivation Program (CHAMP).
All of these programs are significantly influenced by student employees, allowing these student employees the chance to learn both practical and leadership skills through their positions.
The Wellness Center has the distinction of being the only department on campus with a student run payroll. Under the supervision of Rhonda DuBord, associate director, student employees are responsible every two weeks for the printing of employee timesheets and the on-going compilation of student employee’s hours.
Positions such as this have many skills that are transferable to the classroom.
Roberto Castro, Outstanding Employee of the Year, touts these benefits. “Working for the Department of Wellness and Recreation for the past three years has really provided me with a wealth of valuable experiences.”
Engineering major Steve Usma agrees. “As an engineering major you are expected to evaluate a problem and follow it through to its completion. This is a skill I have been able to develop through my time in payroll. Problem solving, attention to detail, and teamwork are all skills I have learned through my job that have been beneficial to me as a student.”
And more than just classroom skills are developed.
“As a payroll supervisor I have learned time management and leadership skills that I can apply to everything I do. My extracurricular activities have definitely benefited from the skills I have learned through my job,” said senior Jennifer Haddock, a payroll supervisor.
An equally impressive sector of students exists within membership. These employees are responsible for the processing of memberships and interact directly with patrons in a professional environment.
Office assistants perform the typical clerical duties such as answering phones, photocopying and running errands. For those students with an intensive knowledge of the Macintosh computer and programs such as Quark Express and PageMaker 5.0, opportunities also exist as computer assistants.
Each of these positions offers student employees the chance to increase their skills and to apply them to their everyday life.
The majority of the Wellness Center’s student employees are utilized in the operational aspects of the facility. Facility positions offer a variety of possibilities with a boundless chance for growth.
New student employees begin with introductory positions such as working at the front desk, which entails greeting patrons and answering questions, working in the pro shop where patrons can check out lockers and various equipment, or working as operations assistants, who are responsible for the cleanliness of the building and the upkeep of equipment.
In the state-of-the-art fitness room, opportunities also exist for fitness assistants, who assist patrons in the use of equipment and interact with patrons as they work out. In each of these of positions there are numerous opportunities for advancement for those employees who take the initiative and want to learn and grow through their employment.
For sports-minded employees, openings for intramural officials are held throughout the year.
Officials are needed for a variety of sports, including basketball, floor hockey, touch football, soccer, softball and volleyball. This position offers a variety of hours with a generous amount of flexibility for students.
The Yaron Field, the re-vamped intramural fields, were dedicated in spring of 2002. To help manage this field, Yaron Field Assistants are employed to work at the field itself to answer questions and enforce reservations for the fields. These positions are thoroughly enjoyed by those who love sports.
Several more skilled positions are open for students who meet certain qualifications.
The Wellness Center offers a variety of aerobic and instructional program classes and thus, requires the employment of an array of instructors.
Current classes include traditional aerobic classes, water aerobics, yoga, hotwheels, belly dancing, and even salsa classes.
These positions allow a great deal of management and creativity by student employees.
Certified personal trainers as well as American Red Cross Certified lifeguards are also employed each semester with competitive wages.
The Wellness Center hosts several events each year to show their appreciation to student employees.
Employee Appreciation Week is held in April and offers a reward to employees each day. This year the highlights included a barbecue and free frozen yogurt at the Wellness Center Juice Bar.
Luncheons are held each semester and offer food and awards for the best employees and a chance to gather with fellow employees. The professional staff truly goes out of their way to make employees feel appreciated.
But at the Wellness Center you don’t just have a job, you have a chance to learn so much more. Skills like time management and leadership are quickly learned by hard working student employees.
“Working as the manager of the personal training program at the Wellness Center has given me more than just an on campus job,” senior Arielle Lane explains. “Being empowered and encouraged by the staff, I have been able to use the skills I have learned in the classroom and see the effects of my success. The professional staff at the Wellness Center focuses on empowering the student employees. Goals of pay raises and position advancement are made very clear from the beginning, encouraging the student employees to continually enhance their working habits. In addition, you are treated as a very important part of the staff and shown how the quality of your work benefits the business. You really learn what it is to be an important part of an organization.”
A supporting staff and a chance for growth are just some of the reasons why students have the chance to take away more than just a paycheck at the Wellness Center.
– Courtesy of the Wellness Center