Student Employment

Academics / Departments & Programs / Biology / Student Experience / Student Employment

Looking to take your learning beyond the classroom? Want to apply your skills in a real world setting? Looking for a work position that challenges you to use the material you study? Consider working as a student employee for the biology department!

Each year, the biology department employs more than 50 students in various positions. Students are able to utilize skills and other lessons learned within the classroom and laboratory in these jobs; students also have the opportunity to develop other valuable skill sets that will strengthen them during the course of their careers. Serving as a student employee with the biology department also gives students the opportunity to explore their interests within the field beyond the classroom setting, exposing them to a variety of career pathways. We encourage all students to consider the various "student employment" positions throughout the biology department--take your learning beyond the lab and to the next level!

Some of the student employment positions available within the biology department include Teaching Assistant (TA), Lab Assistant, Grader, Greenhouse Assistant, Aquarium Assistant, Department Tour Guide, and Prep Room Assistant. Other student employment positions may become available throughout the course of the school year. Brief descriptions of student employment positions are found below.

Steps for application

  1. Review the listing of currently available student employment positions. A listing of positions can be found here. Be sure to pay attention to the times and locations for each class section to make sure you are available to work during those sections.
    • Students are advised to reach out directly to faculty members to ask about individual "Student Employee" needs. (Ex., Some faculty members may need a student that has a flexible weekly schedule to assist with grading assignments and can input data within a tight time frame. Other faculty members may need a student that has extensive experience working within a laboratory setting.) Be sure to gain a strong idea of what your faculty member needs for their course to increase your chances for a position.
  2. Submit an application to the biology department office (DH100). Your application must be completed and include a copy of your transcript to be considered. The transcript copy does not need to be official.
  3. Once your application has been approved, complete the required employment forms (such as tax forms). Contact the Payroll Office to determine which tax forms you need to submit (Spoelhof Center 370).
  4. Complete online student employment safety training. This online trianing is required of ALL student employees, even if you have held a 'Student Employee' position in the past on Calvin's campus. Reach out to your faculty supervisor about any further training they would like for you to complete.
  5. Check in with Erika Purcell-Williams (eap2@calvin.edu) and your faculty supervisor to make sure that you are cleared to begin logging your work hours. You may NOT begin working in your position until you have completed all paperwork required by the Payroll Office. Once you have submitted all correct paperwork, as listed above, and have submitted all tax forms to the Payroll Office, you should receive an "Authorization to Work" card. Bring this card to DH100 to have a new e-card set up for you; once this new e-card is set, you are able to begin working. Remember—you CANNOT begin logging hours for work until you have completed and submitted ALL necessary paperwork. (Retroactive hours will NOT be accepted!)

Lab assistants/graders:

Lab assistants work within the lab course alongside faculty members and students, answering questions about different processes, assisting with the set-up of different activities and demonstrating different techniques to students. Some laboratory preparation responsibilities may vary (such as cleaning equipment, proper storage of equipment, creating solutions or assisting with the set-up of activities, etc.), depending upon the lesson and activity presented. Students that are interested in strengthening their own knowledge and understanding of various concepts, as well as students that enjoy interacting with others in a 'teaching' manner, may really enjoy serving as a 'LA'. To be a lab assistant, you need to be a student enrolled at Calvin, and you must have taken the course or course equivalent in which you are assisting. You are required to have completed the course with a grade of "B" (G.P.A. > 3.00) or higher.

To work in this lab ...you must have taken these courses
BIOL 115 BIOL 205 & 206 or BIOL 323 or BIOL 331
BIOL 141 BIOL 141
BIOL 160 BIOL 225 or BIOL 160
BIOL 161 BIOL 224 and CHEM 103 or BIOL 161
BIOL 206 BIOL 206 or BIOL 331
BIOL 230 BIOL 160 & 161 or BIOL 224 & 225 and BIOL 206 or BIOL 331 or BIOL 332
BIOL 250 BIOL 250 or prior research experience
All others You must have taken the course in order to be a lab assistant for that course

Teaching/Research assistants

Faculty members offer a variety of research projects each summer, offering students excellent opportunities to network within their field, study biology on a deeper level, take up opportunities to become published authors, and work alongside faculty members on advanced research. Whether working within a lab setting or out in the field, participating in a research project strengthens a student's overall resume and academic experience, opening doors to new career opportunities and helping the student gain a stronger understanding of their calling within the field of biology. Students can begin looking at different research projects offered on Calvin's campus towards the end of the spring semester; a listing of projects will be made available and students will be given further information on the application process. Students are also encouraged to consider off-campus research projects during their summer break to help strengthen and enrich their academic experience.

Greenhouse assistants

Greenhouse assistants work with Prof. Dave Warners (dwarners@calvin.edu) and care for the plants within the department. Students take a hands-on approach within this position, handling responsibilities such as watering plant life throughout the Science Building complex and both campus greenhouses and caring for various plant species. Students also play a role in other related activities, such as plant sales, in order to raise and maintain funding for the greenhouses and its equipment needs.

Aquarium assistants

Aquarium assistants work within the Aquarium Room in DeVries Hall, as well as with tanks throughout DeVries Hall, to maintain clean, healthy environments for aquatic life and to promote the well-being and safety of other wildlife species within the Hall. Students are challenged to take a hands-on approach by learning techniques for maintaining healthy, safe environments for aquatic life as well as handling techniques for working with different species. 

Department assistants/Tour Guides

Department assistants and tour guides offer hospitality and service, leading tours of the biology department and addressing questions of the guests related to their experience within the Biology Department. These students serve as "liaisons," helping connect guests and potential visits to different aspects of the Biology Department through sharing information about the areas of study, opportunities offered, challenges, and other aspects of being a biology student. 

Prep Room assistants

Lab prep assistants work with the biology lab manager, Lori Keen (keel@calvin.edu), to set up lab equipment, cell cultures and other supplies needed for the various biology lab courses each week.

Ecosystem Preserve Stewards & other roles

Biology students can also work at the Calvin Ecosystem Preserve & Native Gardens as preserve stewards, educational program leaders, summer camp leaders, and animal care assistants. More information about this position will be posted at a later time.

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