Chelsea Asplund/The AS Review
Junior Kelsey Sanders has been brewing drip coffee, prepping sandwiches and Caesar salads and chatting with customers in the Underground Coffeehouse for two years.
Sanders is among the more than 2,000 students currently employed by Western. From academic department offices to food services and campus resource centers, student employees work in nearly all the building on campus.
Sanders, who has previous experience working at Starbucks, said the community feeling of working on campus provides her with a very different working experience, one that surpasses any other job she has held.
“I think having students working at a coffee shop that serves students makes the community all that much stronger,” she said. “I enjoy chatting with the customers because they are my peers and we automatically have the college thing in common, so it provides further opportunity to create a relationship.”
The second week of April is National Student Employment Week, designated every year to recognize and celebrate working student employees on college and university campuses across the United States.
Financial Aid Manager Caryn Regimbal said this week is a chance for Western’s departments to recognize their working students in various ways.
“It is an opportunity for the campus community to pause and recognize the contributions that our students have made here,” she said.
Regimbal, who used to be a student employee herself when she studied at Seattle University, said in the past departments have celebrated this week by taking student employees out to lunch, bringing in cookies or other treats and other small tokens of appreciation.
Every year, Western participates in a national competition to recognize student workers of the year. In January, supervisors nominated exemplary student employees and, with a coordinated selection committee of faculty, staff and students, 27 nominations were reviewed, Regimbal said.
On Wednesday, April 13 in Viking Union 565, the Student Employment Office is coordinating a recognition reception, where the 27 nominated students are individually recognized with their supervisors and colleagues, and the final winner is announced. The reception runs from 3 to 4:30 p.m.
When junior Ariana Lopez goes into work at the Associated Students Bookstore, she has no idea what might take place. From answering questions about software and art supplies to restocking and checking pricing orders when they arrive, she said there is never a dull moment.
“Every day is different but I enjoy it,” Lopez said. “I love the people I work for, from the other employees to the managers. We are all one big family.”
As a student employee serving other students, Lopez said she believes on-campus jobs for students better serve Western as a whole.
“I think that having students work [on campus] provides for a more comforting environment for customer[s] [who are] students,” she said. “I know this because sometimes, especially during the fall, new students have questions about classes, professors and other things that would be hard for non-students to answer.”
As a work-study student, sophomore Sabrina Romano can relate.
For two years Romano has worked as a peer adviser and internship coordinator in the Huxley College Dean’s Office, where she has organized appointments for department advisers who assist students, as well as advised peers herself.
As an out-of-state student, Romano said she enjoys meeting students in her major that need advice and consoling, something she doesn’t believe would be meaningful if she weren’t a student.
“I don’t think it would be as personal,” she said. “When a student comes in asking about a class or professor, it’s better to say, ‘Oh I have him; he’s great!’ than someone saying, ‘I heard he is good.’ Seeing people who are in your classes make it easier to get what you need done sometimes and [is] not so uptight.”
“[Working on campus is] more flexible and they realize that you’re a student so they work with your school schedule and when you’re overloaded with tests,” Romano said. “Off-campus jobs are more about efficiency and getting things done.”
Given recent budget cuts, Romano said she often worries about her work-study position being cut. She said, however, the more she allows herself to stress about that, the less time she can focus on more important things such as her grades.
Regimbal said it is too hard to estimate potential budget cuts and how they will affect student employment as a whole. She said there has been a recent upswing in the number of off-campus postings on her office’s website and that the competition for work is considerable.
But beyond that, Regimbal said students are able to gain professional skills in jobs both on and off of campus.