Student Worker Feature

You don’t know their names, but you know their faces. They’re there to serve you (mashed potatoes) in your times of greatest need. I’m talking about the student cafeteria workers at Hoff Dining Commons (the caf) who work every day to help your meals run smoothly. 

Student positions range from helping to prepare your food behind the scenes to serving you food in the main line. Given that the job is in the heart of campus, I was curious to find out from the students who serve me three meals a day what it’s like to be in the eye of the storm. 

Two current student caf workers, sophomore Curt Berry and first-year Jacob Smith, had nothing but praise for the position.  

Berry walked me through an average day, from changing into the classic blue shirt and black apron combo to interacting with the student body. 

“It’s got its tough moments, it’s got its great moments,” Berry said of an average shift. “At the start of the shift, from about 4:30 to 6 (p.m.), it’s brutal, but then it starts to heat up.” 

Smith agreed with Berry that the shift goes by quickly and added that having close co-workers makes everything that much better.  

“It goes by much faster when you’re busy,” Smith said. “You’re grinding, but it’s an enjoyable grind, you’ve got your buds with you, and it’s a very close staff.” 

Berry and Smith both agreed the best part of the job was the people they’ve met, especially the full-time adult workers. Smith described the kitchen staff as having a “warm, friendly vibe,” and Berry said the best part of his shift is hearing stories and life lessons from the older folks. 

Besides meeting people behind the counter, working at the caf is also an opportunity to meet students on the other side of the serving line.  

As a transfer student, Berry said the job was “a really good way to get (him) introduced to the school and the community.” He recalls going to parties and getting greeted with “Hey, you’re the caf worker!” 

While Berry loves his celebrity treatment after his shift, Smith said he feels more surprised by the treatment he receives during his shift.  

“The students here are so appreciative,” Smith said. “They walk up, you give them some food and they look at you. They’re so extra, honestly. They don’t say thank you, they go, ‘I appreciate you. You are appreciated.’” 

Berry assured that the hiring process was convenient and Chartwells recognizes students’ busy schedules. After talking to Chartwells about a job, he set up an interview with his current boss Teresa.  

“She was very open with me,” he said about the process. “She let me take my own hours, and she was very flexible.” 

Take it from two real student caf workers: With a nice boss, fun shift and plenty of interesting people to meet, being a student worker at the cafeteria could be an ideal job for students looking for part-time work. Not to mention it’s conveniently located right in the middle of campus. 

Both Berry and Smith would recommend the position to other students.  

“You meet awesome people, and you get a lot of respect from people,” Berry said. 

Smith agreed that seeing faces every day makes the job enjoyable.  

“It’s a great way of meeting your student body,” Smith said. “You get to see their face every day at their hungriest moment.” 

By: Aidan Callahan | Staff Writer