Missionary age change linked to 500 unfilled BYU campus jobs

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One of the cause-and-effect scenarios of the missionary age change that is playing out on campus reads like one of those story problems in a junior high math class.

It goes like this: If a surge of younger missionaries leave BYU for missions, and the Provo Missionary Training Center gets bigger to accommodate them and other new missionaries, and more student workers are needed to staff an enlarged MTC, how many students are needed to fill all of the jobs on campus?

The answer: 500 jobs in 200 different job types, according to Wade Ashton, BYU’s manager of student employment.

BYU students Ariel Jay and Jared Bruton search the job board. (Photo by Elliott Miller)
BYU students Ariel Jay and Jared Bruton search the job board. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

“We suspect that the change in missionary age is having an impact, as more incoming (or continuing) students take a break from school to serve the Lord,” Ashton said. “Students who are serious about finding a job should apply now because the chance of getting an offer right now is very high,” he said.

With the expansion of the MTC on campus, Ashton anticipates that approximately 900 new student jobs could be created by next spring.

Other factors are also at play.

“There are always fluctuations in the number of jobs available at the beginning and end of semesters, particularly the close of winter semester,” Ashton said.  “There are more positions available at the end of the semester when many students are either graduating or leaving for the summer.”

The dining, grounds, maintenance and custodial operations on campus have the most openings.

“Some students are not interested in considering this type of ‘hands-on’ work,” Ashton said. “It’s unfortunate, because many of these students develop great skills, a strong work ethic and have found these positions very rewarding.”

Geography major Jed Stephenson has worked at the BYU Bookstore since his freshman year. He is now the textbook student store manager and was surprised to hear of the number of job openings at BYU.

“It does shock me that there are so many on-campus job openings,” Stephenson said. “Whenever we post open jobs they are filled within the week. Maybe it’s just because the bookstore is so well known and the other jobs aren’t.”

Stephenson has seen students like himself who stay with a job through graduation. “There’s been a few for other random reasons like study abroad, can’t make the schedule work or just found a better job, but the vast majority of people who leave are because of graduation,” he said.

The BYU student employment office has plans to get these jobs filled. One method is to make finding jobs more accessible to students through technology.

“Our focus will be on communication and pursuing various means of getting the job postings they are most interested in, into their hands,” Ashton said. “One tool currently in development is a mobile application that interfaces with our job website … with the emphasis on ease of access and user customization.”

The office of BYU student employment is also considering highlighting departments with multiple job openings and arranging a time for students and department representatives to meet and discuss details. The Universe also has job postings in The Marketplace section of universe.byu.edu, and on The Universe’s mobile app, which is available for both Androids and iPhones.

Ashton said students looking for work should have an open mind and apply to different types of jobs.

“If a student casts a broad net and is open to broad range of work, they will likely find a job,” and find it quickly, Ashton said. “If they want only ‘X’ position, in ‘X’ department, they could get quite frustrated. If they only want that office/clerical position, they may have a more difficult time.”

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