I began having second thoughts about my new job as a culinary assistant at Four Lakes Market when my alarm clock went off at 5:35 AM on the ninth of September.
“Ugghhh…” I groaned, flipping over in bed and fumbling for my phone to put an end to the awful beeping. One squint toward the window told me that the moon was still high in the sky. As I sleepily pulled on a pair of jeans and tied my hair back, only one thought crossed my mind: It has to be illegal to make college kids wake up this early. But then again, I’d signed up for this.
Although working in a university or college dining hall definitely has its share of downsides (such as having to wake up at ungodly hours on Wednesday mornings), the pros of campus jobs outweigh the cons. Not convinced? Let me share my list of reasons for working in a campus dining hall. Coincidentally, this is the same list that I recite to myself while sleepwalking to work on Wednesday mornings.
- Not only will you get paid, but you will also gain work experience.
True, you won’t exactly be raking in the cash--new student employees in dining halls tend to make around $10 an hour. But the $10 an hour adds up quickly, whether you’re looking to get a head start on paying back college expenses or simply to save for your daily caffeine runs to Starbucks. As for gaining work experience, you will likely have a lot of options for your new area of expertise. Team members (general student employees), culinary assistants and baristas all can learn the basics of customer service while also specializing in certain areas of knowledge, such as how to work a cash register, make the perfect grilled cheese sandwich or whip up a caramel latte in ten seconds.
- You get to work around your school schedule.
Not many jobs are willing to let you do such a thing, but luckily campus jobs are one of them. It’s as simple as emailing your class schedule to your supervisor and noting your preferences for opening and closing shifts. Morning shifts are great if (like me) you enjoy starting your day productively. Though the first fifteen minutes or so of any opening shift tend to be painful, it’s all worth it in the end when you clock out right as the rest of the students on campus are waking up. On the other hand, evening shifts are great if you prefer to be one of those students waking up at a normal hour of the day.
- You will meet new people.
This one is especially important during these strange times. One of the biggest things that students are stressed about this year is the fact that they aren’t getting to know as many people as they’d like. Thanks to COVID-19, in-person clubs and classes are canceled, dorm room dens are locked to prevent student gatherings and movie nights, and masks and social distancing are required nearly everywhere on campus. Things don’t look good for freshmen like me who are desperately searching for dependable study buddies, workout pals and potential future roommates. Luckily, you will have the opportunity to meet lots of new people if you choose to work in a dining hall, and I’m not just talking about other undergraduate students. Full-time adult employees such as chefs and supervisors can be just as fun to engage in conversations with!
Bottom line: You won’t regret applying for a job at your nearest dining hall. Student employees benefit from good wages, flexible scheduling and a network of friendly, supportive co-workers. Not only this, but student employees will be able to hone their time management skills as they struggle productively to balance work and school. Take it from a current University of Wisconsin-Madison culinary assistant--this job is worth it.