ChargerREC Student Employees Gain Important Work Experience and Build Valuable Skills
The largest student employer on the University of New Haven’s campus, ChargerREC enables student employees to hold a variety of positions and gain experience that prepares them for careers in diverse fields.
January 29, 2019
By Renee Chmiel, Office of Marketing and Communications
Clark Smith ’19 is one of the friendly faces greeting students, faculty, and staff who walk into the University of New Haven’s David A. Beckerman Recreation Center.
A member services attendant, he has worked for ChargerREC, the University’s campus recreation department, since he was a first-year student. A music industry major, he has also interned at a publishing company in New York City and at a music production company in Los Angeles. In addition to his coursework, he credits his time with ChargerREC for helping prepare him to make the most of those experiences.
"Working here has certainly strengthened my social skills because I have the opportunity to be part of a variety of social situations," Smith said. "This position has definitely improved my computer skills as well. At my internships, I’ve had to learn to use new types of computer software, and it wasn’t as hard because I had experience learning how to use ChargerREC’s software."
Smith’s colleague, Kelly Johnson ’19, a ChargerREC outdoor leader and photographer, enjoys introducing others to new experiences.
"While working at ChargerREC, I have developed and improved my communication and leadership skills," said Johnson, a criminal justice major. "I also got certified in wilderness and remote first aid and first aid/CPR. These skills helped me get a job coaching children at a local rock-climbing gym."
Smith and Johnson are two of the more than 120 students representing a wide array of majors who work at ChargerREC each year. Student employees’ responsibilities include officiating intramural games, personal training, leading hiking trips, and completing administrative tasks.
Ryan Hagen, director of campus recreation, says ChargerREC employees grow as individuals while developing their teamwork and critical thinking skills, and resilience.
"We want them to learn a little bit about themselves," Hagen said.
"We want them to demonstrate their competencies on a daily basis on the floor, to be able to articulate their skills to a future employer in an interview setting, and, then, to be able to take that skill set wherever they go."Ryan Hagen, Director of Campus Recreation
While ChargerREC is the largest student employer, Hagen says the positions are much sought after. Interested students must first attend an information session, then go through a round of interviews with current student employees. Students selected for a second interview then meet with professional staff members.
Hagen said he and his staff are willing to meet with students who ultimately aren’t selected to provide tips they could apply during future internship or job interviews.
"Most job candidates never get this kind of feedback," said Hagen. "We want to provide a valuable learning experience for any students who have an interest in working for ChargerREC."
Hagen says ChargerREC employees have a long track record of securing exciting and rewarding internship and career opportunities. Johnson, the outdoor leader and photographer, interned at Clear Path for Veterans in New York, and former student employees have worked for the FBI, police and fire departments, and for universities.
Some, like Joseph Natale ’14, who earned a degree in sport management, do end up working in a field directly related to their experience with ChargerREC. Now a personal training manager at one of Equinox’s high-end gyms in New York, Natale worked at ChargerREC for two years as a personal trainer, fitness attendant, and building supervisor.
"I learned how to coach people one-on-one to help them achieve their fitness goals," said Natale. "I was also trained how to be a team leader and how to create buy-in from that team to achieve one goal."