High Impact Supervision Practices

Supervisors play a pivotal role in crafting meaningful learning experiences that develop our students professionally in their on-campus jobs. Equipped with tools and resources from the Office of Student Employment, you can provide your student employees with a high-quality employment experience so when your students graduate, they say, “the one thing that prepared me the most was this student employment job.” We’re creating a career-ready community that is student oriented and learning-focused.

The high impact practices recommended below are informed by the NACE Career Competencies and map to high impact elements found in higher education more broadly. These competencies explore and grow skills across the dimensions of the 4D Experience. This process of reflection, connection, and discovery delivers on the 4D Experience, providing opportunities that support students’ intellectual growth, character growth, well-being, and sense of purpose. 

The high impact practices we recommend are: 1. Onboarding, 2. Goal Setting, 3. Projects, 4. Professional Development, 5. Reflective one-on-ones, 6. Sharing Resources, 7. Performance Evaluation, 8. Rewards & Recognition. While recruiting & hiring is a high impact practice, the recommendations below will focus on phases of the student employment lifecycle that occur after students are hired as employees. All recommendations are crafted in consideration of social justice-oriented employment practices.


One: Onboarding

Onboarding Checklist

To set yourself and your student employees up for success, take the time to smoothly onboard your new student employees. To assist, we’ve created a centralized onboarding checklist that will help you create a plan. The checklist includes items to review for a student’s first day, the first week and beyond. It also includes the campus-wide requirements of human resources paperwork and training. Need help understanding the value of a good checklist? Check out this great podcast by Hidden Brain called “Check Yourself”.

Training Plan & Manual

Once you’ve reviewed the checklist, your first step will be to create a training plan. This training plan will build from the checklist. Does your student need to learn a system like Banner? Or a program like Excel? Who do they need to meet? What resources can you provide? When will they be trained on tasks and how can these tasks be verbally expressed and written down for reference? This would be the training manual portion of this recommendation. Remember, this is not their only commitment on-campus. They’re also a student, or an athlete, or a committee member. This may be the first time they need to be organized and you can help them with that by giving both verbal and written plans.

In your training & training manual, be sure to cover expectations on these 3 NACE career competencies: professionalism, communication, and teamwork. We find that the are the most understood competencies between supervisors and student employees. Unpacking these in the onboarding stage can eliminate potential conflicts and employee relations issues. We recommend:

  • Define each term and associated behavior in the manual and verbally. Interrogate this definition for bias before finalizing it.
  • Focus on behavior rather than appearance.
  • If your office has a dress code policy, be clear about this in your manual and provide resources (Career & Professional Development has a Career Closet).
  • Check out resources on inclusive dress code policies.

As part of this training plan, a key component is making a new team member feel welcome. As such, welcome your student employee to the team by announcing their arrival to your department. Perhaps include a short bio. Include introductory meetings to team members in your training plan or schedule an informal gathering.

Lastly, include self-paced learning in your training plan. This could include articles, videos, or podcasts about your industry or field. Perhaps even how-tos related to writing professional emails or other core office functions. They may not understand the importance of your work on-campus and you can help them see the bigger picture.

New Hire Survey

Consider sending your new student employee a new hire survey to collect information prior to their start date. You can include things like:

  • Preferred Name
  • Pronouns
  • Birthday
  • Dietary Restrictions
  • An acknowledgement that they will complete required training and HR paperwork (New Student Employee Orientation, W4, I-9, W2, etc.)

New Student Employee Orientation

Your student employee is automatically added to the New Student Employee Orientation module available on Canvas. With this asynchronous platform, we’re meeting students where they are at by providing information, resources, and interaction flexibly. This platform speaks to students’ varying schedules and commitments.

On their start date, this module will populate in their Canvas account. Check with your student that they have received this course and taken it. Please plan to pay your student employee for this time.

Topics covered:

  1. University Structure and Student Employees in the Campus Experience
    • Rights & Responsibilities
    • DU Values and the 4D Student
  2. Professional Development & Career Skills
  3. Policies & Procedures
    • Hours & Time Training (PioneerTime)
    • Money Matters (Payroll & Taxes)
    • Required Paperwork (I9s and more)
    • Important Partners like Equal Opportunity & Title IX, Human Resources, & Financial Aid

Supervisory Relationship Questionnaire

Start your supervisory relationship off right with the Supervisory Relationship Questionnaire. The questionnaire goes over important things preferences for feedback and communication. It even covers possible triggers to be aware of. In the first week of their hire, have your student employee fill out the questionnaire and be sure to fill the questionnaire for yourself as well. Share your responses and meet to discuss.

Two: Goal Setting

Set at least 3 goals with your student employee. Map these goals to the NACE Career Competencies, job duties from their job descriptions, and ensure that is filling an organizational need. Adapted from the Management Center, use the SMARTIE (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound, inclusive & equitable) to write your goals.


  • By Spring Quarter, I will develop a best practices document to train peers on how to navigate speaking with challenging students or parents on the phone. I will present these best practices and materials at the end of term staff meeting. NACE Skill(s): Critical Thinking
  • Respond to office email inquires within 24-48 hours of receipt to promote departmental reliability for the 2021-22 academic year. NACE Skill(s): Communication, Professionalism
  • Lead 2-4 campus tours per week for 15-20 prospective students and parents for fall quarter 2022. NACE Skill(s): Leadership, Communication
  • Co-coordinate a career program on resume writing for 10-15 undergraduates to increase education. NACE Skill(s): Career & Self-Development, Teamwork

Three: Projects

Long-term projects couple with short-term, routine tasks help develop student employees. Begin to brainstorm long-term projects for your student employee both individually, as a pair, and with your department. What needs to get done? What could use student feedback? What can bolster their resume and add value to the department? Can you shape projects around a career skill? Check out Student Workers Can Learn More on the Job for some ideas and inspiration. Past student employee projects we’ve seen at DU include planning and coordinating events or programs and presenting to staff members on the process and results.

Four: Professional Development

Consider adding professional development components to your positions. Invite Career & Professional Development to present resumes, cover letters, and more to your student employees during their staff meetings. Check out our menu here.

If you don’t have staff meeting, ask that your student employee meet with a career advisor once a quarter. Offer to pay them for this 1-hour meeting as part of their professional development.

Five: Reflective One-on-Ones

Employees who meet regularly with supervisors on a one-on-one basis are three times more likely to be engaged on the job than employees who do not meet with their supervisor. Consider scheduling consistent one-on-ones with your student employees. Given the number of student employees you have or their schedule will determine how often these happen. Can you do weekly? Bi-weekly? Monthly? Or even quarterly? Can you meet for 15 minutes? 30 minutes? Or an hour? Our recommendation is to start meeting quarterly for one hour and increase from there.

Be sure to make these one-on-ones reflective for your student employee. Help them make connections from their on-campus jobs to the broad NACE career skills they are learning. This will better prepare them for their eventual job search. Not sure what to ask? We got you. Here is a list of Career Skills GROW® questions you can plan your one-on-one around. Included are sample agendas to send your students prior to the meeting.

Included in these questions, are reflections related to social identities. How you listen and receive the information shared is very important. As a supervisor, you hold a certain amount of power. Use this information to grow your supervision skills better and create change in your department. We’ve created resources to assist. It is important to create this space for your student employee, but not all will want to engage in this way. And that is okay.

Campus Resources:

Six: Share Resources

Share relevant learning and campus resources as your student employee is training and developing. Resources can include:

  • Recommend books or sources of learning.
  • Encourage “career” journaling. This helps with future interviews.
  • Integrate role-playing for practicing skills (ex. presentations, etc.)
  • LinkedIn Learning

Seven: Evaluate Performance

In effort to provide our students with quality feedback needed for success as they prepare to enter the workforce and begin careers & lives of purpose, the Office of Student Employment uses SkillSurvey for Career Readiness, an online tool for student employee performance evaluations. This initiative uses HR technology to deliver valuable insights into student competencies, which explore and grow skills across the dimensions of the 4D experience, while streamlining and standardizing the evaluation process.

In 10 minutes with 2 steps, supervisors, and other evaluators (including peers and colleagues), provide students with:

  • Feedback on their work-related student employment experience
  • Ratings on behaviors related to the eight NACE career readiness competencies
  • Insights into their unique strengths and areas of improvement

The SkillSurvey Evaluation process replaces paper or PDF evaluations and provides student employees with common language and information on their work performance and career readiness. In addition, the process helps facilitate feedback and conversations between supervisors and student employees.

Eight: Rewards & Recognition

Don’t forget to recognize the amazing work your student employee does, especially if their performance review is stellar. We have guidelines and ideas for you here.

A quick snapshot of ideas include:

  • Gifts of Appreciation
  • Student Employee of the Year
  • You Rock!
  • Graduation Gifts
  • Student Employee Meals
  • Little or no cost ideas… shout out on social media, newsletters, monitors, etc.
  • Increase Compensation

Need support with any of these practices or have any questions? Contact Stacey Stevens at stacey.stevens@du.edu.