University of Southern California: To ensure a first-rate student experience, USC ramps up hiring efforts

More than 100 guests were expected to check in to the USC Hotel on a balmy Friday afternoon. Instead of a typical overnight stay, these guests arrived for a hiring event that had a speed-dating element to it. Prescreened candidates were safely checked in and shuttled to their scheduled interviews on one side of the ballroom while those who were hired on the spot got escorted to the other side to fill out paperwork with the support of USC Auxiliary Services’ human resource staff.

The effort is part of a monumental undertaking to staff up at high speed and fill critical open positions.

“The student experience at USC is a top priority,” says Dirk de Jong, assistant vice president of USC Hospitality and USC Hotel. “Our team around campus is working hard to address students’ needs at the beginning of an exciting but very different semester.”

The excitement of campus reopening overshadowed the immense challenges of getting the university up to speed with providing services at pre-pandemic levels. While many students eagerly returned to campus, bringing back staff and filling critical roles for in-person services proved to be a bigger challenge.

The nationwide labor shortage has directly affected dining services at USC, leading to longer-than-usual wait times that the USC Hospitality team attempted to mitigate with expanded dining hours, increased dining options and the introduction of the USC Campus Dining app.

“Things are looking much better than they did at the start of the semester. Thanks to our remarkable team, we were able to go from full stop to full speed in no time,” de Jong said. “Now we are filling those remaining gaps with quality staffers so we can fully meet the needs of our campus community.”

USC hiring events focus on the local community
The hiring and onboarding are being conducted through a series of USC events that bring eager job seekers looking for full-time opportunities with full benefits.

Kevin Eduardo González Mendoza is one of those job seekers. He described the experience as nerve-racking, and upon passing his interview and receiving a job offer, he received on-the-spot assistance to finalize his application and paperwork so he could start his new job immediately.

This was a timely opportunity for Mendoza, who has been trying to get back on his feet. Like others in the service industry, he faced hardships during the pandemic. Despite a fear of contracting the virus, Mendoza kept working. But his hours were reduced, and he was eventually laid off by the restaurant where he worked. Now, things are looking up.

“I am excited to have this opportunity to work at USC,” Mendoza said. “This will allow me and my family to move forward, and this will be my first job with benefits.”

USC Auxiliary Services will hold another hiring event on Nov. 8 that aims to fill 40 additional posts as the department seeks its goal of filling more than 200 jobs. The positions being filled will directly support dining hall services and USC’s Care Crew, which will enhance the experience at campus entrance checkpoints.

So far, the hiring events have been a success for USC and the local community. USC Auxiliary Services has filled 125 positions, with 39% being residents from within a five-mile radius of the University Park or Health Sciences campuses.

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