Jobs: Service-Learning Assistants

Duke Service-Learning seeks students with federal work-study allocations to serve as Service-Learning Assistants (SLAs) each semester. SLAs work closely with faculty teaching undergraduate service-learning courses, performing tasks such as facilitating community placements; serving as a liaison between faculty, students, and community partners; and leading critical reflection activities. Assignments change from semester to semester. This position is considered a "Student Assistant - Specialized" and is paid at a rate of $16/hr.

How to Apply

To apply, please send a short resume highlighting relevant experience, with a brief cover note, to Kimmie Garner, at Please state the (expected) amount of your federal work-study allowance for the academic year, and provide a class schedule, if known.

SLA assignments are for one semester, but many SLAs work with us for several semesters, accepting new assignments each term. Exact job duties will depend on the assignment, but may include any of the following:

Identify and develop appropriate community partnerships (service placements)
  • Confirm relationships with existing community partners and research new community organizations as necessary to identify sufficient student placements. Visit potential placement sites. Evaluate partnerships at the end of the semester.
Oversee and monitor service-learning placements throughout the semester
  • Coordinate the placement process, e.g., prepare descriptions of community partners, make an in-class presentation, collect forms, and match students with appropriate sites.
  • Develop or update and carry out protocols for orienting students, e.g., in-class presentations, participation agreements.  Participate in orientations at placement sites.
  • Check in with both students and community partners regularly throughout the semester to monitor student work and troubleshoot any problems. Help students to understand their roles and the perspectives of the community partners. Track student hours or make sure students are meeting their commitments. Make site visits as appropriate.  Hold “office hours” for students as needed.
  • Provide guidance or assistance to individuals or student groups completing service projects or conducting community-based research.
Facilitate critical reflection and integration with academic content
  • Work with the course instructor (and any peer reflection facilitators) to develop a plan for reflection activities, assignments, student evaluations, and other efforts throughout the semester to integrate the service experience into the course. Read course texts as necessary. Facilitate class discussions as appropriate.
  • Read and/or respond to written reflections, summarizing student comments for the instructor if requested.
Assist with research related to service-learning

(Note: This will not be a major component of most assignments.)

  • Conduct literature reviews, surveys, interviews, and/or focus groups. Create or maintain databases or records. Analyze quantitative and/or qualitative data. Draft sections of a report.
  • “Be visible” by attending class and/or participating in service activities as requested.
  • Communicate and meet regularly with the instructor. Document work. Prepare an informal update mid-semester. Have an end-of-semester meeting to give and receive feedback and share final documentation.
  • Attend an orientation session and monthly meetings with the Service-Learning Program. Assist the Service-Learning Program with additional tasks as appropriate, e.g., an end-of-year celebration. Submit final reflections.
  • Assist with the training of other/future course coordinators when possible.
Work Schedule

SLAs may be assigned to work with one or more courses per semester, depending on availability. Each student’s work-study allocation and particular assignment(s) will determine the work schedule. On average, SLAs work about 3-5 hours/week per course, though work hours can fluctuate greatly from week to week. In some courses, the bulk of this work is concentrated in the first few weeks of the semester. In most cases the work can be completed on the SLA’s own schedule, however certain tasks may be pre-scheduled, e.g., attending class, required to take place during business hours, or making phone calls to community partners. SLAs are expected to be available to work for at least one full semester, and are often invited to continue in future semesters.


SLA positions are federal or Duke work-study positions, paid at $16 per hour. SLAs submit biweekly time reports and are paid based on actual hours worked.

  • Candidate is a full time Duke student. Both undergraduate and graduate students are eligible. Graduate students are particularly encouraged to apply.
  • Candidate must be able to provide a work-study verification form showing a federal work-study allowance for the academic year.

Ideal candidates will have some or all of the following characteristics:

  • Broad range of intellectual interests
  • History of working effectively with working community organizations
  • Experience supervising, leading, or mentoring college students
  • Experience working closely with college faculty
  • Excellent organizational and communication skills
  • Prior job experience working from home
  • Interest in service-learning as a teaching and learning method (prior experience with service-learning is helpful but not necessary
Reporting Requirements of the Program

SLAs are employees of the Program in Education (the administrative home of Duke Service-Learning). Duke Service-Learning will screen and interview applicants, make work assignments, provide training and ongoing support, collect time reports, and assist with questions related to compensation.

Reporting Requirements of the SLAs

SLAs will be expected to attend training sessions and meetings, develop a work plan for the semester, submit time reports, and communicate regularly with the instructor(s) with whom they have been assigned to work.

Being an SLA is More than a Job for Some Students. Below is a short essay from an SLA who worked with Professor Debby Gold's service-learning course Death and Dying. You can read testimonials from past SLAs here.

Service as a Gift: A Reflection from an SLA

Sometimes undergrads “give” more than their required 20 hours in service-learning courses. Sometimes they also give inspiration. The service-learning assistant (SLA) in Debby Gold’s Death and Dying class recently shared this personal reflection following her reading of reflections by students in the class.

She noted that as an SLA, she knows the flow of things now—the nuts and bolts—when partners need to be called, who should be emailed and who should be visited, how to assign seventy students to a site in under four hours.

“The only thing I did not really know how to do was visit at these sites—how to volunteer, how to give my time, how to show up as my students do, week in and week out,” she admits.

“This year, I wanted to change that, so I signed up to volunteer at Duke Hospice. For the past few decades, Duke Hospice has welcomed undergraduates from service-learning courses to volunteer with them. It is one of our most popular, but also specialized sites because volunteering at hospice means interacting with patients on hospice,” she says.

“Put more bluntly, it means confronting death in a very real, visceral way that volunteering at a nursing home does not always provide. It is the only site of its kind offered in Death and Dying, and as such, students who volunteer there often have one-of-a-kind experiences. Thus, when I read through their reflections, they stood out. I pictured them sitting vigil with a patient who was actively dying and had no family members to be with them. I heard the music they played at the bedside of patients who had lost all of their senses except their ability to listen to the tune of the flute or the stroke of the violin,” she explains.

“They have meaningful experiences and as I read their reflections, it caused me to reflect on my own life. It made me want to give of myself the way they have given of themselves, and so this year I am following their lead,” she says. “I decided to get oriented alongside them and we are serving together.

“Here are these students who, yes, are required to give twenty hours, but if you ask them if they feel like it is a burden, they would most likely say, ‘No.’ They bond with these people and they are changed for the better because of them. What they do not realize is that it is because of their ability to see service-learning as a gift and not a requirement, that I can too,” she says.

“Service-learning not only affects the students we work with, but everyone involved in the process,” she observes. “When all is said and done, that is what makes all of this worth it. You cannot help but be changed for the better.”

We are delighted to welcome a new cohort of fourteen SLAs (Service-Learning Assistants) to the Fall 2020 semester. We are so grateful for the work they do to assist faculty, students, and community partners in service-learning and community-engaged courses--we couldn't fulfill our mission without them! Read their stories here.