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‘NextGen’ System Means Less Paper, Fewer Mistakes in Hiring Graduate Students

photo of PhD student Vindhya Kundura
The NextGen Graduate Appointment System improves the way that students are hired for assistantships. (Marc Hall photo)

Sometimes a small change can have big consequences, like The Graduate School’s new system for hiring graduate students that is expected to save the university some 16,000 pieces of paper annually and up to $145,000 in employee labor time. Siarra Dickey, manager of graduate appointments, fellowships, and postdoctoral scholars for The Graduate School, says the campus’s response to the online NextGen Graduate Appointment System has been positive.

The NextGen system, which went live in May, improves the process for hiring graduate students as graduate teaching assistants, research assistants and services assistants by reducing the paperwork, labor and possibility of error involved in the process, said Dickey.

The name “NextGen” came early in the process when The Graduate School set out to develop a “Next Generation” system to improve the way graduate students were hired. The system is so innovative that NC State Human Resources adopted at least half of the NextGen features for the new universitywide online hiring system that will be released this fall.

The NextGen Graduate Appointment System allows human resource personnel and others involved in the hiring process to track an employment action as it makes its way through the system. All campus hiring parties can access NextGen through MyPack Portal.

“The outdated process increased the likelihood of typographical errors, miscommunication and the possibility of misplacing paperwork,” Dickey said. “Any of these problems could result in delays in a student receiving a paycheck for time worked, late enrollment in health insurance, delayed payment of tuition, which could cause a student’s classes to be dropped.”

The process of getting NextGen off the ground started about three years ago, when then Grad School Human Resources Director Meghan Wilson set out to make some changes. Programming for the system began two years ago, supported by Enterprise Application Services of NC State’s Office of Information Technology. Last spring, The Graduate School began testing the system and training key faculty and staff to use it.

“The effort that went into developing this new system was pretty amazing,” said Dr. Maureen Grasso, dean of The Graduate School at NC State. “NextGen Appointments demonstrates the added value we provide and the innovation that we practice at The Graduate School.”

One advantage that Dickey has already noticed — this time of year, her desk used to be piled high with paper hiring files that had to be touched physically by at least five people before being reviewed individually by The Graduate School.

Today? No paper piles. And hiring actions that once took weeks to complete are now finished in two to three days, a week at most, Dickey says. Initially there was some resistance to the new system, she said, but now that it’s online and the campus has had a chance to try it, things are very quiet.

Approximately one third of the university’s graduate students — about 3,000-3,200 — are on some form of assistantships. Thanks to NextGen, nearly all graduate student hiring actions for the fall semester have already been completed, Dickey said.

For more information on using NextGen for graduate student appointments, visit:

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