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Hiring Student Help for your Website

For many of us, managing a website can be a challenge. It's hard to create content or to find or create good imagery. In addition, it can be technically difficult and let's face it, it's hard to find time.

Naturally, many people seek to hire extra help, often in the form of student labor. Here are a list of things to look for, and to avoid, when hiring students to work on your College of Engineering website. 

Hire Communicators (not Programmers)

First and foremost, you want someone that knows how to write effectively. Individuals with experience in communications, journalism, or marketing are great candidates. Knowing a little bit about graphic design or photography will also pay dividends.

It is best to avoid hiring computer science majors unless they also have other skills or you need them for unrelated technical work. When they hear they are going to be working on a website, they expect to be programming it, but this is not how any content management systems deployed by major units at OSU work. Quite the opposite, many of these systems exist to eliminate the need for custom programming.

Look for Any Web Experience (not just Drupal)

Anyone that has a blog, or has edited a website before, has gained skills that will help them manage your site. Even without website editing experience, general tech and internet savvyness will go a long way. Experience with Google Analytics or Qualtrics are good indicators of tech savviness.

While Drupal is the underlying software used to power our sites, like all Drupal based sites, it is heavily customized. Drupal core ships with about 20 modules and our sites include around 150. Suffice to say, experience editing one Drupal site does not always translate to other sites.

Consider Your Needs

We often find that our clients don't know what they want site visitors to do and therefore don't know what they want to say. Instead, they end up describing their organization as they see it internally and struggling to craft compelling content. Even worse, sometimes they leave creation of the website to a new student worker who knows very little about the organization.

If this sounds like you, consider hiring a student out of marketing or another business discipline. In addition to helping create your site, they are more likely to be able to assist in creating a compelling customer centric vision for your organization.

However, if you already have a great idea for how to market yourself, consider hiring a journalism or communications major to drive the message home.

Don't hire any student worker and expect them to create the website indepdently or with nothing more than a rough outline.

Hire Someone you Trust

While they exist in limited forms, our site's moderation capabilities are not robust. Whoever you hire, you should expect to give them direct edit access.

Summary

In conclusion, you should look for:

  • Majors: Communications, Journalism, Marketing
  • Skills: Writing, Design, Tech Literacy, Internet Literacy
  • Experience: Any Website Editing, Blogging, and Social Media

Beware of these traps:

  • Requiring Drupal experience when all Drupal sites are different.
  • Hiring Computer science majors that expect to program a website.
  • Hiring a any student, particularly non-business, without a clear picture of what your site needs to say and do.
Jason Little