Not just a paycheck

"Facility Operations, this is Nikki. How can I help you?” – this is the phrase senior Nikki Coleman has said for three years every time she has picked up the phone in her position at University of Detroit Mercy.

As a soon-to-be graduate of the business administration program, she knows that her position exposed her to the business world in ways that the classroom never could.

“I was able to interact with other departments on campus, as well as many outside vendors,” said Coleman. “Facilities has provided me a real-world understanding of how businesses function together as a whole.”

Like Coleman, many students take the opportunity to get an on-campus job while they study at UDM.

Paige Dykema, a biology major, has held multiple positions.

“I see the university in a whole new light now,” Dykema said. “Working in Student Life helped me understand that people work day and night to try to make the university a better place. And now, working for University Services under the Facilities Management branch, I have a much higher respect for the university and realize how many little details students take for granted.”

Rosanna Reynolds, an employee at University Services and a member of the women’s basketball team, agrees that an on-campus job has shown her a new side of the university.

“As an athlete, I am familiar with things the athletic department does,” Reynold’s said. “But having a job on campus made me learn more about what every department at the university has to do to keep everything running smoothly. Every person has a specific task that plays a vital role for the school and the success of it.”

As a former Information Technology employee, Ben Bourdeau believes he is already reaping the benefits of his position.

Now a technician at Resource Partners of Madison Heights, Bourdeau uses the skills he was taught in IT every day.

“I thank IT for taking me in and providing me with such a good skill set,” Bourdeau said. “I was even able to negotiate a higher pay at my new job thanks to my knowledge. Most people don’t know how much IT does for the university. IT is very underfunded and underappreciated, but I’m very thankful for them.”

Nicole Meisner, a graduate student in the Intelligence Analysis program, is also a former employee of the university.

Meisner is confident that the skills she acquired in her position under University Services will help her, even in a career as unique as hers.

“Working for University Services was my favorite job,” she said. “It enhanced my experience at UDM because I coordinated events on campus, and that helped me meet a lot of other employees. I know working for University Services will definitely help me in the future.”

Vershay Burks, a communication studies major, is in her second year working for Facility Operations.

“Having an internship at Facility Operations gives me an inside look at how responsible people have to be when running a business,” Burks said. “I have a much higher respect for the university now because I see how much it costs to run, not just in money, but in mental capacity, as well as time.”

Many student-employees like Burks and Coleman agree that having a job on campus is a positive experience that can lead to opportunities down the road.

As she approaches graduation, Coleman believes that her resume is strong thanks to the skills and knowledge Facility Operations has provided her.

Coleman already has job offers, and she suspect she might not be so lucky if she hadn’t worked on campus during her studies.

“I thank Facility Operations every day for hiring me as a student with no previous work experience and leading me to the point I’m at now,” Coleman said. “It has proved to me that with hard work, I can accomplish all of my future goals in any profession.”