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Alumni Translate Student Employment Experience to Professional Impact

Jason Maynard

Student employment within the Division of Student Life provides a foundation for future careers by providing Boilermakers with opportunities to develop the professional skills they need to succeed in the workforce.

Alumni of student positions within Student Life have gone on to enjoy successful careers and impact their communities – including here on campus. Jason Maynard, senior assistant director - sport programs, Purdue Recreation & Wellness (RecWell); Zachary Hiscox, residential program administrative specialist, University Residences; and Kayla Clark, senior graphic designer, Student Life Marketing, have each translated their student employment experiences into impactful, full-time positions in Student Life.

As with many students, Maynard started looking for student employment simply because he needed spending money. He was living in Meredith Hall at the time and noticed a poster advertising a need for referees at RecWell. Having grown up playing basketball, Maynard’s interest was piqued and he obtained a position as an intramural sports referee – which unknowingly jumpstarted his career in recreation.


“When I was searching for jobs, I picked this because it sounded like the most fun,” Maynard says. “I decided I was going to go work in that. And now, it’s my career.”

Hiscox obtained a position as a bell-hop at the Union Club Hotel thanks in part to his older sister, who worked at the hotel and made him aware of the position. Hiscox unexpectedly discovered that he enjoyed the connections he could make with guests at the hotel.

“I really discovered that I liked meeting different people,” Hiscox says.

“Being at a hotel, you meet a lot of different people anyways – but being in a hotel at Purdue, you meet people from across the world. That was not something I was looking for at first, but something I really enjoyed after a while.”

A direct link to her field of study drew Clark to her graphic design internship with Student Life Marketing. With previous graphic design work from a dual credit course in high school as well as additional college coursework, she was excited by the possibility of expanding her skills and using the department’s iMacs. After seeing work samples and meeting staff during the interview process, Clark knew the department was the right fit to develop as a graphic designer.

SLM-headshot-Kayla-AN-8-768x768.jpg“I saw some examples of the work the team’s former graphic design interns had created,” Clark says. “I felt really excited and eager to get the opportunity to do the same types of things.”

Throughout their respective student employment experiences, Maynard, Hiscox and Clark created connections and developed skills that not only improved their job performance but became key components of their future careers.

Prior to his student employment experience at RecWell, Maynard describes himself as someone who was strong in logic, math and science skills but hadn’t yet developed the communication and soft professional skills he needed to succeed in the workplace. Maynard says supervisors Rachel Rayford and Carley VanOverberghe set a standard of excellence and challenged him in supervisory roles as he earned more responsibility in RecWell, progressing through positions as an intramural supervisor and later as the head intramural supervisor. Maynard credits Rayford for helping critique his officiating skills and learn standards of professionalism and attention to detail, and VanOverberghe’s vision and ability to communicate values as having a significant impact on his career. Maynard went on to earn recognition as RecWell’s Student Employee of the Year as a senior.

“When I think of myself as a manager now – the way my style has developed, the way I manage people and the way I communicate – I think the biggest point of growth was as a head supervisor,” Maynard says. “I was an undergraduate student that had to manage and lead a team of up to 13 people on site every single night and conduct monthly one-on-ones with the other students I was supervising. It was a real management experience that definitely kicked me into gear.”

For Hiscox, the experience of working at the Union Club Hotel became an affirmation of the type of work he found valuable. He became a jack-of-all-trades during his time at the hotel, learning front desk, housekeeping, reservation systems and operations on a tight-knit and selfless team. It wasn’t uncommon for student employees to come in on their days off to help complete time-consuming tasks, such as changing the batteries in the door locks of more than 200 rooms. The camaraderie and cooperation among staff stuck out to Hiscox.

“Growing up, I never had a specific passion for any specific career that I wanted to do,” Hiscox explains. “I was generally in the realm of wanting to help people and to provide some sort of assistance that is real and measurable for customers, students or another group of people. One thing I learned through working at the hotel is that the workplace environment has a more significant meaning for me because I don’t care as much about what I’m doing as long as the people I work with are being helpful and care about success in the workplace and with personal goals.”

Direct, hands-on experience in her field of study helped Clark’s growth into her future profession. Supervisors Jackie Perkins and Tasha Bannon provided valuable design lessons in areas such as accessibility and inclusivity, while also providing feedback and guidance on working with colleagues throughout Student Life. As a designer, Clark worked with departments and colleagues across the division on a variety of projects, including a logo design for University Residences’ District of Tradition. She also submitted projects to the local American Advertising Federation’s ADDY awards and was recognized for her design excellence with several awards. The work environment helped validate Clark’s decision to pursue a graphic design career.

“Overall, the team at large gradually helped me build more confidence as a graphic designer,”

Clark says. “They also provided a great environment to learn and develop in. Every day was positive and enlightening for me, and most days were also filled with laughter and everyone’s little quirks.”

Clark’s experience as an intern led to an opportunity to serve in a temp role with Student Life Marketing after graduating. She was later hired full-time and now serves as the senior graphic designer for the department. In this role, Clark works with colleagues across the division on a wide variety of projects, including print, digital signage and environmental graphics.

Clark also now supervises the same graphic design intern positions she once held as a student. In many cases, the internship is the first time student interns have worked with professional clients. Interns must learn the communication skills to accept feedback, advocate for their design choices and suggest solutions to potential concerns, such as accessibility and budget. Having worked in the same position allows Clark to guide students through this process.

“I always try to be encouraging and validate their opinions while also accepting and explaining why our clients have the feedback they give based on their own experience with the marketing objective,” Clark says. “I also know how great it is to hear praise or win design awards, and I try to celebrate our students’ wins as much as I can. These moments really made me feel validated as a creative when I was a student and I hope they are rewarding to our students as well.”

Despite Maynard’s enthusiasm for the intramural program at Purdue, it wasn’t until his junior year that he realized someone had to receive a paycheck for working in recreation – why not him? He began a professional internship with RecWell after graduating from the College of Education and later served as an assistant director of sport programs during the 2021-22 school year. Now, as senior assistant director – sport programs, he is charged with developing sports programs at RecWell, including intramural and club sports. These programs impact more than 12,000 students – a population greater than 25 percent of the student body at the university.

Maynard has also been the driving force behind Purdue’s budding club esports program. While support for esports on campus had existed before Maynard’s involvement, it was scattered and largely disorganized. Thanks to Maynard’s advocacy and RecWell leadership, growth in support for esports has developed quickly - in three years, the department has welcomed seven club esports programs into the fold. Purdue also now boasts a hub for gaming in Purdue Memorial Union and offers numerous resources to support student gamers.

No matter the sport, Maynard says creating opportunities for social wellness is critical to success – and he enjoys being part of a team that creates these opportunities.

“We work on a college campus – that’s fun!” Maynard says.

“We’re Student Life. We work to improve student wellness and health, and provide support for students. Our work is very serious, but I like working in a group and with groups of people that see that for what it is.”

When the Union Club Hotel closed for renovations in 2019, Hiscox found another position at the University that fit his desire to help students in the Central Assignments Office of University Residences, a department he continues to serve. In his current role, he implements all housing accommodations for students with disabilities who live on campus. He coordinates with the Disability Resource Center to present options that fit students’ needs and manages their accommodations for the entirety of the time they chose to live on campus. He has also worked diligently to formalize and document processes as well as review protocols to ensure the needs of these students are met. In this role, Hiscox is doing exactly the type of work he seeks – helping others.

“What I have to do to help them is get them into a particular hall and sometimes it’s that easy – but it’s such a big change for them and it can be the difference between succeeding or not succeeding,” Hiscox says. “Seeing how big of an impact that has on those students and how grateful they are for it is something I will always enjoy.”

Serving on a University Residences team that routinely goes the extra mile for students resonates with Hiscox.

“As a student, you hear about how Purdue cares for the students, but then you become a professional and work with people and realize Purdue really cares for the students,” Hiscox says. “I feel like that’s not the type of trust or caring that you have at any workplace or university.”

While his journey from student employee to his current role hasn’t been direct, Hiscox says he would encourage students seeking employment to take a chance on roles they might not be familiar with to develop as a person.

“Being able to put yourself out there and into a position that you’re not familiar with is a big challenge for some people,” he says.

“I think being able to take the challenge by the horns and really charge at it is a great experience both as a student and an employee.”

Whether it’s administering programs or serving as a supervisor and mentor, Maynard, Hiscox and Clark are dedicated to helping the next generation of Boilermakers take the small steps they need to achieve professional success. The pride employees like Maynard, Hiscox and Clark take in working for their alma mater is evident in their dedication to service.

“When people ask me what the most important things to me are, number one is my close family and close friends, and number two is RecWell and Purdue,” Maynard says. “It’s what I know. It’s what I do. It’s what I care about.”

The division of Student Life currently employs more than 2,400 students. As part of their experience, student employees develop leadership and professional development competencies as well as within the Steps to Leaps learning pillars to prepare make an impact on workplaces and communities. Learn more about student employment by visiting