Balancing acts: students juggle jobs and academics

by Cristian Cano | 3/8/17 2:10am

It’s no secret that college life is pricey. On top of costs for tuition, housing and meal plans, students must also consider the fees associated with textbooks, clubs, sports, Greek life and medical services — and more. For students looking to make some money over the course of the term, there is a wide variety of jobs on campus, and students are very likely to find a job that fits both their interests and schedule. The Mirror interviewed several students to learn about their experiences working on campus.

Asha Pollydore ’17 has been working in the Class of 1953 Commons dish room since her freshman winter, and during her junior winter she began a second job at Collis Market. While initially reluctant to work for Dartmouth Dining Services, she decided to begin her job search after feeling guilty asking her parents to pay for expensive textbooks.

“Here I am in college — I should be supporting myself and not relying on my parents because they have their own expenses and are struggling too,” Pollydore said.

After she successfully applied for the job, Pollydore had to learn how to balance her schedule with academics and her rugby practices. Unfortunately, her athletic schedule was not usually finalized until a few weeks after each term started, so she often had to sign up for tentative shifts without knowing if they would interfere with her practices.

Working in the dish room can be tiring, especially during rush hours, and Pollydore began her second job at Collis Market so that she could work more hours without physically exhausting herself further.

“It’s when you’re on the carousel and it’s the 7 o’clock rush, and there’s three of you there but you’re still behind, and plates are going by you,” Pollydore said. “That’s when the dish room is crazy and you’re sweating.”

For the most part, though, Pollydore enjoys both of her jobs, and she is quite fond of her coworkers. Recently, one of Pollydore’s coworkers brought in a cake the day before her birthday, even though she had only mentioned it briefly the week before. She found that moment particularly memorable, and she said that the good times she shares with her coworkers are a major reason why she looks forward to her job.

Josephine Cormier ’17 has had similarly positive experiences working while at Dartmouth. She has been a ski instructor and an usher for the Hopkins Center since her freshman year, and this year she has also worked as a French drill instructor.

Cormier is required to work on campus, as work-study is a part of her financial aid package, but she has found ways to embrace her passions and use her jobs to her advantage. For example, she receives a free ski pass as an instructor, and her ushering job allows her to see performances at the Hop without needing to buy tickets.

“I really like going to shows, so I figured if I had to work, I may as well do something where I can see the shows I want to see and get paid to be at things I might already be at — and not have to pay to go to them,” Cormier said.

Cormier began learning French her sophomore year, and after attending the language study abroad program in Lyon, France, she decided to return to Lyon the following year to serve as a director’s assistant for the LSA. She enjoyed helping students learn French so much that she decided to become a drill instructor this year for introductory French courses. Cormier even threw a small Mardi Gras celebration during drill to surprise her students earlier this term.

Cormier emphasized that working on campus does take up a significant amount of time, and she noted that some students have unrealistic expectations about being involved in many extracurricular activities while also working multiple jobs.

Emely Cantor ’17 discussed the balance between jobs and other extracurricular commitments. Cantor, who has worked every term she has been on campus, initially worked at America Reads but decided to switch to working at Novack Café during her sophomore summer when local elementary schools were closed.

“A lot of students who are working at Novack, in my personal experience, are students who need to for financial reasons,” Cantor said. “Often it’s forgotten that people take jobs not because they want an extra block of money, but because they have to take those jobs for various reasons.”

Cantor said that she has few complaints about her job at Novack. She enjoys the laid-back atmosphere and camaraderie between coworkers, many of whom she said already knew each other before working together.

While most students are very polite, Cantor said she wishes that more students understood that student workers must abide by all store policies. For example, she has encountered students that complained about Novack’s 25-cent charge for empty cups, but she cannot simply give the cups away for free.

Despite a few minor stressors, such as long lines of customers, Cantor enjoys her experience working on campus and finds it to be a nice break from studying for classes.

Rachel Inman ’19, who is currently a spin class instructor at the gym and an employee at the Dartmouth College Child Care Center, said that she appreciates how her jobs provide her with an escape from academics.

“Even though [having a job on campus] can be time consuming, it’s a good way to de-stress … and take your mind off of your studies,” Inman said.

Of course, many jobs can come with unexpected duties. Inman had not considered the time it would take to make playlists for her spin class, and she said that her first one took around three hours to make. While she gradually learned to make playlists more quickly, she is still mindful of the time commitment that comes with being employed. Next term she plans to drop her job at the Child Care Center to free up her schedule.

If Inman had to give one piece of advice to other students, she would tell them to look for jobs that match their interests. She said that students can leverage the assortment of jobs on campus to find one that corresponds with what they want to do, and then working will feel like less of a chore.