WiGROW

About WiGROW

WiGROW is an engagement initiative (adapted from Iowa GROW) designed to support the learning of student employees. Supervisors and student employees engage in intentional, reflective conversations each semester, providing students an opportunity to consider connections between their on-campus employment, career goals, and college experience.

Why Participate in the WiGROW Program?

  • Enhance student learning in the workplace by providing opportunities for reflection and professional development
  • Support and engage supervisors of student employees in their role as mentors and teachers of students
  • Build authentic and genuine relationships with your student employees

Have Questions? Connect with our Administrative Team!

All WiGROW Conversations...

Are Neutral and Non-Evaluative

Engaging in reflective conversations with their supervisors, separately from performance-related feedback, allows students to approach work as a learning opportunity.

Identify Transferable Skills

Student employees develop a broad range of skills in their on-campus jobs. In WiGROW conversations, students and supervisors name these skills and build upon them.

Encourage Reflection In Action

Having these conversations can spark further reflection as students work, helping students to continue making connections between their on-campus job, their college experience, and their career goals.

Guide to having WiGROW Conversations

  • Initial Conversation: You will have the first WiGROW conversation with a student within 45 days of them being hired. This allows students to view their job as an important learning experience from the beginning.
  • Semester Conversations: You will then have a conversation with students at least once per semester, which will encourage continued reflection on their experiences and deepen their learning.

WiGROW conversations are adaptable to a variety of contexts and workplaces. Participating units and departments choose a style according their workplace and the needs of students and supervisors. In each style listed below, the supervisor who facilitates the conversation may be either a professional staff member or a student who serves in a supervisory role.

Style 1: One-to-one supervisor/student conversation & away from work

  • In-person conversation tips:
    • Send questions in advance of meeting
    • Take care with location to be mindful of volume/privacy
  • Virtual conversation tips:
    • Send questions in advance of meeting
    • Suggest cameras be on
    • Give students the opportunity to write down ideas
    • Allow students to contribute via the chat function

Style 2: One-to-one supervisor/student conversation while working

  • In-person conversation tips:
    • Send questions in advance of meeting
    • Take care with location to be mindful of volume/privacy
    • Be prepared to pause the work or pause the conversation and revisit with the student

Style 3: Small group conversation (3-6 students) facilitated by supervisor

  • In-person conversation tips:
    • Send questions in advance of meeting
    • Set guidelines for discussion before the meeting
    • Use a dedicated room that allows for adequate space
    • Begin with introductions
    • Allow students to opt-in to a group setting instead of making the group conversation a requirement
  • Virtual conversation tips:
    • Send questions in advance of meeting
    • Set guidelines for discussion before the meeting
    • Allow students to contribute via the chat function
    • Suggest cameras be on
    • Begin with introductions so folks know who is “in the room”
    • Allow students to opt-in to a group setting instead of making the group conversation a requirement

In all conversations, regardless of style, supervisors engage each student who is present in non-judgmental reflection. The conversation occurs at a dedicated time during which the students’ reflection is the supervisors’ main priority and focus.

All WiGROW conversations provide space for students to reflect on work with the guidance of their supervisor. Supervisors will ask questions related to the following:

  1. Tell me what is new with you.
  2. What skills are you learning or practicing in your job?
  3. How  have you worked with and learned from others?
  4. How does your job impact your college experience?
  5. How is this job preparing you for your career?
  6. BONUS: Tell me about a situation that required you to grow?

Full list of questions: 2021-2022 WiGROW Questions & Resource Sheet

Supervisor Toolkit

Getting to Know the Program

Whether you are starting WiGROW for the first time or simply training a new supervisor on the program, the Supervisor Handbook and Intro to WiGROW video have all the information you need to educate your colleagues on the program.

WiGROW Questions & Transferable Skills

There are five core WiGROW questions, with a bonus question to use in your conversations with students. You should ask all five core questions (or a listed alternative) in each WiGROW conversation.

Campus Professional Development Opportunities

View professional development opportunities below:

Request a Professional Development Workshop

Would you like to put on a professional development workshop for your student team, but are struggling to find the time? Don't worry, our Success Coaches have you covered.

WiGROW Conversation FAQs

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What if a student is having trouble with basic needs?

  • Listen with empathy. The student is always more important than the agenda/list of questions.
  • Connect students to Basic Needs Resources and, as you see appropriate, offer to be there with them as they reach out.
  • Consider reporting a student of concern to the Dean of Student’s office so that they can follow up with personal support.

What if one of my students is splitting time with another department?

  • Communicate with the other department to determine who will be having the WiGROW conversation.
  • If this is not possible, assume that you are having the WiGROW conversation with anyone your department has hired or anyone who is spending the majority of their work hours in your department.
  • These students are getting a crash course in learning on the job and being flexible. Consider reflecting on this and how students can represent it on their resume during your WiGROW conversations.

How do we have a virtual conversation in a meaningful way?

  • Spend more time on the first question and catching up. Be prepared to have students arrive to the conversation with additional stress this year.
  • Pay special attention to nonverbals. Whether wearing masks or talking through screens, it will be harder to pick up on these naturally.
  • Confirm understanding by saying things like, “I’m hearing you say…” or “Am I understanding you correctly that you’re saying…” Our words can easily become muffled or be misheard.
  • Offer an opportunity for students to follow up if they have additional thoughts or want to continue the conversation later.

What if a student doesn't want to talk?

  • Give them time. These questions require deep thinking. If you’re not sure how long to wait, count to 30 in your head, and then ask if they’d like time to think, for you to repeat the question, or to move onto another question and come back to it.
  • Acknowledge it. “You seem quiet today. How are you?”
  • Make sure the space you’re in is one where students feel safe and comfortable.
  • Try a different question. There is a whole list of alternatives!

What if a student isn't sure of how they're learning?

  • It’s best if students identify the skills rather than us suggesting them. Ask them about a time when they had to ask for help, were unsure of what to do and figured it out, or did something well. Then ask what skills they used in those situations.
  • If students really struggle, suggest a skill that you have seen them display, or that other students often cite as one they learn on the job.
  • Ask specifically about skills like time-management, relationship development, quality control, sense of humor, empathy, communication, or other skills.

What if I'm already having these conversations?

  • That’s great news! WiGROW will come naturally to you. If you are already having non-evaluative conversations at dedicated times with your students, keep doing so and simply incorporate the WiGROW questions.
  • If the conversations you are having are similar, but are more focused on daily work than learning or are not neutral, add in WiGROW conversations at a dedicated time. The relationships you’ve developed through these other conversations will make your WiGROW conversations even more meaningful.

What if I don't have enough time for this conversation?

  • Approach your department about allowing group conversations (to speak with 3 – 6 students at the same time) or to allow conversations while conducting daily work. Remember to prioritize the student’s reflection over efficiency.
  • Train student leaders to conduct WiGROW conversations.
  • If there are other staff who assist with daily supervision or mentorship of students and would be well suited to having this conversation, ask your department if they can conduct some WiGROW conversations.

How do I have a group WiGROW conversation well?

  • Plan to spend more time in a group conversation than you would on an individual conversation (Instead of 15 minutes, plan for 30).
  • Ask the group to introduce/reintroduce themselves to each other.
  • Ask one question at a time.
  • Consider using “think, pair, share”: have students think about the question, pair up with a partner to talk, and then share one observation with the group.
  • If having students answer in pairs, give them a time limit and prompt them to switch half way.
  • If having all students share with the large group, make sure each student replies to the question or builds off another student’s answer.
  • If a student doesn’t have an answer to the question, ask them a follow up question like “Did you hear someone answer in a way that felt true for you too? How come?”.
  • If a student seems disengaged, they might not be comfortable with the group. Follow up with them after one-on-one.

Where should I have WiGROW conversations?

  • Look for a space with minimal distractions (quieter and less activity is better).
  • Some students may be more comfortable in a space that is familiar. A corner of a larger room where they work could lead to richer conversations than a conference room that feels foreign.
  • Some students may want privacy. Some students may be more comfortable with other people around. Give the student options and ask them where they might like to meet.
  • If you’re meeting in a separate room, let the student decide if the door is open or closed.

Questions? Contact Us

WiGROW is supported administratively by Brenda Salvo with the Office of Learning and Talent Development in Human Resources and Devin Deegan with The Office of Student Financial Aid.

Get Connected with our Administrative Team!