PEAK Information for Faculty & Staff
Explore information to many of the most frequent questions that employers have about hiring and supervising a PEAK student.
What are the goals of the PEAK Program?
The PEAK Program – Professional Experience, Achievement, and Knowledge – will provide opportunities for student engagement and growth through campus jobs that:
- Encourage rich relationships with faculty and staff
- Foster professional and academic curiosity and competency
- Engender a sense of substantive contribution to the SOU community
While achieving these goals, PEAK employees will be more likely to succeed academically, complete their degrees at SOU, and achieve professional success.
What are the basic characteristics of the program?
- The 2022-23 academic year will be PEAK’s tenth year on campus
- Nearly 100 PEAK jobs were created or maintained through the program in 2021-22
- Employer pays for only 25% of the student’s wages and the program pays for the rest
- Positions are all 8 hours per week
- Pay can range from $14.25-$17.00 per hour
- New PEAK positions cannot replace existing staff or student positions
- PEAK employees must be enrolled in classes at least half time (6 credit hours)
- Positions must be deemed professionally or academically substantive with identifiable learning outcomes, much like an internship
How do I hire a PEAK student?
Requests for a PEAK Job must be approved by the Office of Career Connections and will only be considered in Spring Quarter for the following year. Once approved, all PEAK Jobs must be posted through the HR Student Employment Hiring Process. PEAK applicants must submit both a resume AND cover letter in order to give them experience creating polished application materials. You must conduct at least one interview before offering a PEAK position. You can interview as many or as few candidates as you’d like.
How do I extend an offer?
After interviewing at least one candidate, you can make an offer directly to the most qualified student. Once the student accepts, please mark the student as “Hired” in Handshake. This will trigger an automated onboarding process. Please see the HR Student Employment Hiring Process page for more details.
When do PEAK employees work?
The PEAK Program will be funded for the Fall, Winter, and Spring quarters of the 2022-23 academic year. The amount of PEAK funding that you will receive is based upon 10 weeks of student employment during each quarter. If you want your PEAK employee to work a) more than 10 weeks, b) during the summer, and/or c) for more than the approved number of hours, you will be required to pay for 100% of the costs incurred by the additional wages.
How do I pay my PEAK employee?
The PEAK Program covers 75% of your new employee’s wages, but Payroll will be charging your office or department directly for your employee. When submitting your position description for posting to Handshake, you will be asked for a general fund index code to use for your PEAK employee. PEAK will then make a one-time transfer into that account to cover the program’s share of your expenses for the year. You are responsible for tracking your employee’s hours. You will not be awarded additional PEAK funds if the student works more than the approved number of hours. If your PEAK employee works on campus, they must use the Web Time Entry system to clock in and out each time they work. Information about the WTE system can be found at https://inside.sou.edu/sc/wte.html.
What should I do during my employee’s first day on the job?
One of the most important things that you can do with your new student employee also happens to be a requirement of the PEAK Program – establish learning outcomes and set expectations on the first day of work. These can be revisited and revised as needed, but it is critical to discuss goals immediately. Create a written list of outcomes and expectations. The employer signs the list as a commitment to providing the agreed upon opportunities, and the employee signs the list as a commitment to accomplishing the job duties to the best of his or her abilities.
How do I set Employment Expectations?
You are more likely to have your needs met and your employee is more likely to have a satisfying experience if you clearly establish your needs from the first day. Begin by discussing the duties listed in the job description. Mention additional responsibilities that might be associated with the job. Explain consequences associated with poor performance or inappropriate behavior. Other helpful topics might include:
- Dress code
- Appropriate communication in the office
- Personal use of office equipment
- Tracking hours, calling in sick, and requesting time off
- Who to ask when questions arise
- Departmental and university policies
- Appropriate customer service
Again, create a clear, written list that can be reviewed and signed by both employer and employee. Revisit the list regularly to ensure that it continues to meet everyone’s needs.
How do I set Learning Outcomes?
The PEAK Job Program was designed to assist with the professional and/or academic development of SOU students, so each PEAK position should have associated learning outcomes. As a supervisor, it is your responsibility to ensure that PEAK employees are gaining the experiences that you agree upon. Commit to providing some of the following outcomes:
- Work that requires specialized training or knowledge
- Tasks that result in quantifiable accomplishments
- Direct connection to professional field or academic major
- Opportunity to participate in project from creation through implementation
- Opportunities for professional collaboration with faculty, staff, and students
- Emphasis on tasks that build leadership, problem-solving abilities, strong communication skills, thoughtful customer service, team work, effective time management, and computer aptitude.
What else should I do to help orient a student to a new position?
- Tour the office/department
- Introduce PEAK student to other employees
- Provide job-specific training (determine what skills need to be taught, teach those skills, and explain what to do when questions arise in the future)
How do I supervise my PEAK employee?
As a PEAK employer, you are expected to provide consistent, thoughtful supervision to your PEAK employee. A regular date and time for supervision should be established early on. Supervision sessions should:
- Provide ongoing feedback on the student’s performance
- Identify what is going well and what must be improved
- Discuss upcoming goals
- Assist students with professional development
- Answer questions
- Provide opportunity for student feedback
Thoughtful feedback can:
- Help workers set goals
- Inform employees how they are progressing to those goals
- Act as a positive reinforcer
- Result in increased effort
- Engage employee in suggesting ways to improve performance
- Address concerns immediately
- Focus on specific behaviors and examples
- Be impersonal by keeping comments descriptive rather than judgmental
- Be goal-oriented
- Focus on behaviors the employee can control
- Ensure understanding
How do I evaluate my PEAK employee?
Quarterly evaluations are a requirement of the PEAK Program. You can design your own evaluation form or use the tools on the HR website as inspiration. Ask students to complete a simple self-evaluation as well, an example of which is also on the HR website. Keep your initial learning outcomes and performance expectations in mind as you fill out your evaluations. Discuss both evaluations in person with your PEAK employee.
PEAK Information for Students
PEAK (Professional Experience, Achievement, and Knowledge) jobs are student employment opportunities designed with your professional and academic development in mind. A PEAK job will help you hone your application skills, connect you with faculty, staff, and other students, give you the opportunity to develop and use professional skills, and help you explore careers of interest, all without leaving the SOU campus. PEAK jobs are typically eight hour per week positions, and they are open to both undergraduate and graduate students who are enrolled at least halftime in SOU classes. Log into your Handshake account and search “PEAK” to find currently posted positions, and don’t hesitate to the Career Connections team at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions.