A Guide to the Labor Program

All students hold a primary labor position through which they fulfill their labor obligation.  Primary positions are assigned in increments of ten (10), twelve (12) and fifteen (15) hours per week according to student interest and department allocation.  Students generally advance through a series of grade levels with specified learning progressions and corresponding hourly rates.  Students have an opportunity to begin their employment with hands-on training and close supervision and move into positions where they train and supervise others.  After the first year, students select jobs to match their skills and interests, so they have the freedom to set their own paths and take on new challenges at their own pace.

First-Year Students

New students (including freshmen, transfer and exchange students) are placed centrally by the Labor Program Office using the Job Assignment Questionnaire (JAQ) submitted through Admissions.  The JAQ provides an employment history and summary of skills that aid in matching students to available positions.  Once JAQs are collected and organized, labor supervisors are invited to review them and recommend a placement in their department.  They may also conduct phone interviews with incoming students to determine if they are qualified for more specialized assignments (e.g., accompanist).

All first-year students are assigned grade 1, ten-hour positions, which they will hold for one full academic year.  While many of these jobs are in service areas, students are assigned in departments all over campus- it depends entirely on availability.  A student’s first job emphasizes transferable skills such as punctuality, accountability, initiative, communication, etc., while providing time to acclimate to college life and explore future interests.


At the conclusion of the first year, and each year thereafter, students are charged with securing their own job placements.  Once assigned, the position normally remains in effect through the end of the following spring term.  While the majority of job placements occur between supervisors and students, the Labor Program Office facilitates this process by sharing departmental descriptions and contact persons, posting vacancies, and connecting students with supervisors according to interest and qualification.  If students are unable to locate suitable positions on their own, the Labor Program Office will ensure placement for them.


The Labor Program Office is pleased to introduce the 2012 edition of Tools to all campus constituents and to friends and supporters of the Berea College Student Labor Program. This reissued comprehensive guide is one of many initiatives stimulated by the 2000-2001 Labor Review as a means of bringing greater accessibility and consistency to a program valued for its breadth and diversity.

We hope this guide will continue to answer many of your questions concerning the nature of student work at Berea College, and we hope you will approach us with any questions that remain.

The Labor Team