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Student Employee Training

Employer Orientation Checklist

Below is checklist to assist your department and your student employee:


VOLTS (Vanderbilt OnLine Training Session) is intended for all Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt Medical Center student employees. VOLTS will help students develop the skills needed to be successful on the job.

The training modules have been organized to provide general guidelines regarding different aspects of an on-campus job. However, there may be information or procedures which need to be addressed by department supervisors depending on the job.


Students should go through these modules sequentially, beginning with the module Forms Required. Read the module, follow any instructions, and when done, go directly to the next module. After the training, there will be an exam for students to take. Students will need to print a copy of the exam, complete and sign it, and give to the department supervisor for inclusion in the personnel file.


  • 1. Forms Required

    There are four steps that must be completed for any new student employee. Returning student employees may not have to complete all four again, depending on changes desired, such as a change in withholding. Each step will be discussed in turn.

    The PAF/FWS Action Form

    A PAF must be completed by your supervisor(s) for every Vanderbilt Institutional Employment (VIE) position you have. A FWS Action Form must be requested from Student Employment and completed by your supervisor. You may hold a FWS position and an VIE position at the same time as long as both positions do not exceed the recommended hours per week limits.

    The W-4

    This form instructs Vanderbilt University how much federal income tax to withhold from your earnings. Your earnings as a student, even through the FWS program, are taxable income. You use the W-4 to estimate what your tax liability might be at the end of the year. Vanderbilt withholds your requested amount throughout your employment each year, so you neither owe nor are refunded a large amount.

    International students should contact the Vanderbilt Office of International Services.

    If taxes are withheld, you will need to file a federal tax return at the end of the year to determine if you owe additional taxes or are due a refund. The address provided on the W-4 form is where your year-end W-2 will be sent. Therefore, you may wish to use a permanent address. This form may be completed at your department or at the Student Employment Office any time you wish to change your withholding data.

    The I-9

    Since 1986, all new employees are required to show proof of legal status to work in the United States. Vanderbilt requires all new employees to show proof of citizenship (birth certificate, etc.) and proof of identity (e.g., driver's license). You must complete this process on/before your first day of work. This is a two step process. Check with your hiring department for instructions to initiate this requirement. International students should visit the Vanderbilt HR Express, located at 2525 West End Ave.

    The New Employee Information Form

    This Vanderbilt form is to be completed by students who have not previously worked at Vanderbilt. It is used to collect demographic data.This form may be completed any time you wish to update your local contact information.

    Direct Deposit/Pay Distribution

    Student employees may request to have their paychecks distributed through Direct Deposit. This may be managed/requested through the C2HR (Connect To HR) link found on the Home page of the Student Employment Office. By default, student payroll checks will be delivered to the home department of employment.

  • 2. Timesheet Procedures

    A very important aspect of your job responsibility will be properly completing your timesheet. This is the means by which your paycheck is calculated. It is very important to do and/or know the following:

    • Keep accurate records of the hours you work. Check with your supervisor to confirm the method of time recording required for your position. Vanderbilt uses an e-Timesheet process. There my be times that a paper timesheet should be submitted. Please check with your supervisor should you miss a timesheet  deadline.
    • Until you can access an electronic timesheet, it is important to ensure your name and social security number is on the paper timesheet!
    • Print legibly. Use blue or black ink to complete your timesheets. The easier it is to process your timesheet, the more likely you will receive your paychecks on time.
    • Submit only one timesheet, per job, per pay period. Do not submit a paper timesheet if you have submitted an electronic timesheet. Do not add hours for a second job to your first job's paper timesheet. When reporting time worked for more than one position using the e-Timesheets, select the View Distribution located at the bottom of your timesheet. Check with your supervisor to verify the Distribution Center your position is associated with.
    • You must record your start/stop times in the space provided on the timesheet.
    • The Total Hours Week 1 and 2 box must be completed.
    • While school is in session, Undergraduates and International students are limited to working a maximum of 19 hours per week, inclusive of all jobs. Graduate/Professional students are limited to working a maximum of 29.5 hours per week, inclusive al all jobs.
    • Timesheets are due on specific dates every two weeks. E-Timesheets must be SUBMITTED by the deadline for supervisor approval.  It is your responsibility to ensure your timesheet is properly and correctly completed and submitted/signed by you. There is a listing of timesheet due dates and pay days on this website, but check with your supervisor as an earlier deadline may be required in order to meet administration deadlines. Failure to complete your timesheet in a timely manner will result in a two week delay of your paycheck.
    • Checks are available at your department on pay days after about 10:00am unless you have requested your paycheck be mailed to you or be received by direct deposit. (This time is an approximate only - check with your supervisor to see when checks usually come to the office.)
    • If you don't receive a paycheck, check with your supervisor first. If the supervisor cannot resolve the issue, then students should contact Student Employment.
  • 3. Timesheet Falsification

    Student employees must accurately report hours worked on all timesheets. Supervisors must certify that the hours worked are correct.

    University policy states that falsification of time sheets is grounds for immediate termination. There are several possible penalties:


    • Falsification violates state and federal law. The student may be charged with misdemeanor forgery and/or misdemeanor petty larceny, one count for each timesheet. If the pay illegally obtained is large enough, a felony charge of grand larceny may also be made.
    • There are additional federal laws and regulations regarding fraud in obtaining financial aid. Fines of up to $10,000 and 5 years in jail are potential penalties. Immediate termination from the Federal Work Study program, repayment of aid received, and a permanent bar from receiving further financial aid of any type are possible penalties. The student may be reported to the US Department of Education for possible prosecution.
    • This behavior violates the Vanderbilt University Student Honor Code. The student's behavior will be reported to the Office of Student Accountability, Community Standards and Academic Integrity for review.
    • Suspension or dismissals from the University are other potential penalties. Students should be aware that the University will take action in cases of timesheet fraud.

    Please note: Conviction of a felony will bar a student from entry into certain professions, such as teaching or nursing.

  • 4. Payroll Calendar

    Hourly student employees follow biweekly payroll cycles. Monthly student employees follow monthly payroll cycles. As indicated on the previous panels, hourly student employees must submit timesheets regularly in order to be paid on a biweekly basis. Monthly student employees do not need to submit timesheets for their monthly positions. Refer to the Payroll Deadline link on this Web page for your scheduled pay dates.

    Print the payroll calendar that is appropriate for you. Look over the starting and end dates of the pay periods, the dates timesheets are due (if applicable), and the paydays for each pay period. Note that some dates may be altered due to holidays, or other circumstances.

    We want you to use this calendar. As you finish each pay period, write on the calendar next to the appropriate pay period how many hours were reported on that timesheet. When you get the paycheck, write on the calendar (again, next to the appropriate pay period) the amount of the gross pay. If you do this, you will always have an accurate record that you are being paid properly, and how much you are earning. You may also verify your pay information on the C2HR link.

    This is particularly important for FWS student employees since you have a specific award amount. The FWS program will not pay for hours worked in excess of your award amount, so use this calendar or C2HR to track your earnings and warn your supervisor when you are about to earn your entire award amount.

  • 5. General Employment Rules

    For some of you, this may be the first job you have ever held. Developing a professional attitude and self-discipline now will serve you well throughout your entire career. These rules are general behavior guidelines. They promote good work habits as well as providing the best service possible to your customers and your employer. They are also rules that will be found in the majority of work sites.

    1. Dress in a manner appropriate to your work location. Most students do not have the means to wear professional office attire; however, jeans in good condition and a nice shirt are appropriate. Do not wear sweat suits, short shorts, tank tops, or flip-flop sandals to public offices. Your work location may have very specific guidelines about attire or may allow you to wear whatever you want. While your supervisor should inform you about any dress codes, if you are unsure, ask!
    2. Social interaction in the office should be kept to a minimum. Discussing your personal life should not be done while someone (a customer, co-worker, etc.) is waiting for assistance. Although your work site may be open for student use, refrain from inviting your friends to stop by for a chat while you are working. If they are using the services, help them but keep your interaction professional.
    3. Personal phone calls cannot be made from the workplace without the permission of your supervisor. Also, the office number should not be given as an alternate place for people to reach you if you are not home. (For example, do not list the office number on credit applications, etc.)
    4. Computers in the office are not for personal use.
    5. Breaks: Per Tennessee law, you must take a 30 minute unpaid break if you work a shift of six hours or longer. The break must be shown on your timesheet. Eating and drinking on the job is strongly discouraged. There are places available in almost every building for taking a lunch break, if necessary. Shorter breaks (of up to 15 minutes) may be paid if it is the department's policy to give these breaks to regular employees.
    6. Use discretion when interrupting professionals, secretaries, or workshops/meetings in progress. Usually a closed door means do not disturb. When in doubt, ask your supervisor how you should handle such situations.
    7. Consider all office information and communication confidential! Avoid inappropriate public discussions about students, alumni, or college policies. Disclosure of confidential information to sources outside of the office will be cause for dismissal. In some offices, you may be asked to sign a confidentiality statement.
    8. Remember, this is a job. Regardless of whether you are working through the FWS or IE program, performance is expected. Your supervisor will give pay raises based on your performance. Your supervisor and co-workers also may someday be a source of professional recommendation letters. Remember that poor performance will result in termination.
  • 6. Professionalism

    Frequent reference is made to a "professional attitude" and "professional conduct" on the part of persons engaged in occupations considered professions. These are not easy to define in a few words, but there are certain characteristics associated with professional status. One outcome of earning a college degree is the potential to be hired for professional jobs; learning and adopting the job attitudes and behaviors of a professional while you are still a student will be valuable to your career.

    Professional workers:

    1. Take full responsibility for the results of their efforts and actions. They may seek advice and consultation but they do not attempt to transfer responsibility for their mistakes to others.
    2. Continually seek self-improvement. They take advantage of every opportunity to gain/enhance their knowledge and understanding in connection with their professional duties.
    3. Respect the confidence of others. The welfare of those they serve often requires that information concerning them remains confidential.
    4. Are loyal to their fellow workers. They do not gossip about them or the clients they serve. They understand the importance of teamwork.
    5. Avoid rumors. They do not repeat or give credit to information received through the "grapevine." They secure information directly from those authorized to release it.
    6. Address their grievances through proper channels. They discuss them directly and privately with those authorized to make adjustments. They refrain from complaining and grumbling to others.
    7. Are sensitive to the problems of their fellow workers. They consider the effect of their actions on the welfare of fellow workers.
    8. Meet their professional obligations. They fulfill all agreements and obligations entered into with fellow workers.
    9. Do not advance themselves at the expense of others. They strive for recognition and advancement in the profession only on the basis of superior professional performance.
    10. Are proud of their profession. They reflect to those outside the profession a pride and satisfaction in the work in which they are engaged.

    Adapted from the Career Advisor Guide, Curricular-Career Information Service, the Career Center, Florida State University.

  • 7. Telephone Etiquette

    Your employing department may have a specific manner of answering office phones. If so, please follow their guidelines. If, however, no office-specific way is presented, adopt the following methods for effective and efficient service.

    1. All incoming calls should be answered with the department/office name and your name. It is important that you identify yourself. For example:
      "University Registrar's Office, this is Jane Smith speaking, may I help you?"
    2. All incoming calls should be answered:
      • promptly
      • personally, when possible (use voice mail only when necessary)
      • professionally
      • courteously

      Make an effort to give each caller your full attention.

    3. Handling multiple calls and visitors.
      • Answer calls promptly
      • Excuse yourself from the first caller and;
      • Place him/her on hold to answer the second call
      • Return to the first caller as soon as possible. When returning, say, "Thank you for your patience."
      • If a visitor is talking with you in person and the telephone rings, excuse yourself to the visitor and answer the telephone. Ask the caller to wait a moment or offer to return the call.
      • If a visitor approaches while you are on the telephone, excuse yourself briefly from the caller and acknowledge the visitor. Ask if the visitor can wait a moment while you finish the call.
    4. Effective call-screening techniques allow you to better serve customers and co-workers. In such cases when call-screening is required or requested by your office personnel, follow these examples:
      • "May I tell her who's calling?"
      • "May I tell her what your call is in reference to?"
    5. If the individual whom the caller requests is busy, offer to take a message or connect the caller to the individual's voice mail, as appropriate to your office's preference.
      "Mr. Smith is away from his office. Would you like me to connect you to his voice mail?"
    6. Tranferring calls should be done only when necessary and in a positive, efficient manner.
      • Listen carefully and attempt to fully understand the caller's needs.
      • Complete the transfer quickly and correctly.

      To transfer a call, follow these procedures:

      • Let the caller know you are transferring the call.
      • Give the caller the department name and extension that s/he is being transferred to, in case the call is disconnected.
      • Announce the caller to the person to whom you are transferring the call and provide any information the caller has given.
         "I will need to transfer you to the Admissions Office. The number is 555-5555 and they should be able to assist you."
    7. Taking telephone messages is a skill that saves time and is beneficial to both caller and recipient. If you need to take a message for someone, get as much information as possible. Include:
      • Date/time of call
      • Full name of the person calling
      • Phone number
      • Nature of the call
      • Your name at the bottom of the message

      While most callers will opt for voice mail over a written message, if you do need to take a message, take enough information to make the return call productive. If the individual the caller is trying to reach is out of the office for a length of time, let the caller know their message will not receive an immediate response.

      When taking a message, avoid saying, "I'll have John call you back when he returns." A more appropriate response is, "I'll make sure John gets your message as soon as he returns."

    8. Angry confrontations can be handled successfully using the following tips:
      • Be polite.
      • Don't interrupt. Take notes and wait for a pause.
      • Echo the content of the complaint and the caller's feeling about the problem.
      • Acknowledge that there is a problem and apologize for the caller's inconvenience.
      • Try to find a solution, or refer the caller to an appropriate representative.
      • If the call cannot immediately be resolved, take the caller's name and number and explain that someone will get back to him/her. If you have to forward the information to someone else, explain that the caller was upset.
      • "I'm sorry you experienced a problem. Let me try to help you find a solution."
  • 8. Processing Phone Calls


    Many central phones or secretary desks have console telephones. These are larger and generally have a series of buttons on the right side of the phone. Often, they are used as the central phone for an entire office, so transferring calls to another phone is a common task.


    1. Answer the call. See what or whom the caller wants. If they wish to talk with someone else, you will need to transfer the call.
    2. While you have the caller on the line, press TRANSFER.
    3. Dial the individual's 5-digit extension.
      • If individual answers, inform him/her of the call.
      • If extension is busy, press TRANSFER to take you back to the original caller.
      • If you're taken directly to voice mail, press the star (*) button 3 times quickly to return back to caller or hang up to connect the caller with voice mail as appropriate.
    4. Hang up.


    1. After answering the call, press TRANSFER, then 60000.
    2. After voice mail announcement begins, press the call recipient's 5-digit extension.
    3. Press the CONF button and you will be able to hear the call recipient's voice mail announcement.
    4. When you hear the announcement, press RECALL. (Keep in mind that the caller can hear everything you say until you hit RECALL.)


    These phone are commonly used in individual offices or on desks that do not receive a high volume of calls. They look like traditional phones used in the home.


    1. Answer the call.
    2. While you have the caller on the line, depress the connect/disconnect button quickly
    3. Hear special dial tone.
    4. Dial the individual's 5-digit extension.
      • If individual answers, inform him/her of the call.
      • If extension is busy, depress the connect/disconnect button quickly to take you back to the original caller.
      • If you're taken directly to voice mail, depress the connect/disconnect button quickly to return back to caller or hang up to connect the caller with voice mail as appropriate.
    5. Hang up.


    1. Lift handset.
    2. Dial #8.
    3. Answer call.


    Print out the test, complete the test questions, sign and date the sheet, and return it to your supervisor.