The best gigs on campus

From the intellectual to the adventurous, students employed by Mines report that, along with a paycheck, their work provides balance, fun and intellectual stimulation. Having access to a deep pool of driven, high-achieving young men and women is good for Mines, too.

Scooping ice cream or flipping burgers is honorable work for a college student, but some of the job opportunities for Colorado School of Mines students offer a lot more, kick-starting careers, forging community connections and pushing phyical limits. On a headcount basis, more than 60 percent of the individuals employed at Mines are students (40 percent undergraduates), and while most may work only a few hours per week, their cumulative contribution to campus operations is substantial. Interested in finding out which undergraduates had the best gig, we took a survey. Here we bring you our top five and comments from others who caught our attention.

1. Outdoor Recreation Center climbing wall route setters

Andrew Lee, sophomore
Field of study: Chemical engineering

Brandon Conaway, sophomore
Field of study: Geological engineering

When they’re done solving problems in their calculus classes, Andrew Lee and Brandon Conaway head to the Student Rec Center and invent problems for others to solve—climbing problems. “This job puts you in an environment where you can be creative,” says Conaway. “It gives you the opportunity to set routes that challenge your abilities and other students. I think my favorite part, though, is watching people who have never rock climbed before come in and have a blast.”

Lee, who’s the head route setter, has climbed for 12 years. “I get to spend a lot of time getting paid to do what I do best,” he says. “I also get to climb all the other setters’ problems and tweak them if they need to be adjusted.” When asked for his strategy in establishing routes, Lee doesn’t hesitate: “As an experienced climber, you know what’s next; it’s natural. You start with a move or hold and then devise a set of movements to go into it. It just flows. It’s an art form.”

 

2. Research assistant in the Colorado Fuel Cell Center

Hailey Meyer, first-year sophomore
Field of study: Chemistry and chemical engineering

If Hailey Meyer is the future of renewable energy, we have little to worry about. “Thursdays are my favorite—that’s the day that I work,” she gushes with palpable enthusiasm. She’s at Mines because of the Harvey Scholars Program, which she was invited to apply for last summer while in Spain (“that was an adventure and a half, trying to find an English word processor to write my essay”), and is creating polymers, learning about zero-emission anion-exchange fuel cells that use rock minerals as a catalyst instead of precious metals, and worrying about research funding drying up. Meyer landed a dream job working in renewable energy thanks to work-study funds and a connection she made through a Society of Women Engineers Evening with Industry event last September. “I hope NREL hires me some day,” she confides. “It’s comforting to know that I have a network now. I am one of the lucky ones to find what I am passionate about so early in my college career.”

 

Read more on the Mines Magazine website. (This story appeared in the Spring 2013 issue.)