Fall employment opportunities remain largely virtual with few in-person jobs

by Emily Zhang | 9/11/20 2:30am

lauren-kim-student-worker
The Hopkins Center for the Arts will offer remote job opportunities to students this fall.
by Lauren Kim / The Dartmouth

This article is featured in the 2020 Freshman special issue.

While some student workers have been able to adapt their on-campus jobs to an online format during the COVID-19 pandemic, others have lost their work opportunities. This fall, the roughly 2,300 undergraduate students who the College is welcoming to campus will have limited opportunities to work in-person, with most employment opportunities remaining virtual.

The majority of this fall’s in-person job opportunities will be offered within Dartmouth Dining Services and the studio art department. This term, Novack Cafe is planning to reopen and bring back its student employees to work in person at the cafe, according to Novack manager Chris Robbins. He said although Novack will not be able to hire more than 60 students, as it did in the past, 20 to 30 student employees will be able to work at the cafe starting in October after operations under its regular schedule begin.

“These are unprecedented times, but we still want to provide the best service possible to the community and the student workforce makes up a huge part of that success story,” Dartmouth Dining Services director Jon Plodzik said.

Novack Cafe staff member Brandon Guzman ’22 said that while the pandemic caused him to lose his main sources of income at Novack and Paddock Library, he managed to find two teaching assistant positions in the computer science department in the spring term to mitigate this loss and will be working as a teaching assistant again this fall.

Robbins noted that in order to ensure the safety of employees and customers, Novack will implement some new measures to enforce sanitization and social distancing, such as setting up plexiglass between employees and customers and removing some tables and chairs.

In addition, Novack will try to prevent customers from congregating by enabling customers to use the GET app to order ahead, giving out paper slips so that customers can go sit at a table after purchase and get called when the order is ready and putting up signs to remind community members of social distancing protocols, according to Robbins.

Studio art department recruits models

The studio art department will provide another in-person job opportunity this fall — a modeling position for studio art classes. According to studio art department administrator Kelly Thompson, the department would normally offer two jobs for students, nude modeling and gallery attendant. However, since galleries at the Hopkins Center for the Arts will be closed this fall, only the modeling position will be provided in an alternative format, with the number of models hired reduced from ten to two.

“Instead of having live models in class, we would record them in multiple poses, and they would be clothed,” Thompson said. “The videos are going to be sent to the classes remotely, so we wanted to protect our models’ privacy.” 

Thompson noted that models are asked to come only one time to the Black Family Visual Arts Center to be recorded by a studio art intern. Therefore, models are paid $60 per hour rather than $20 because the recording is expected to take only two to three hours, Thompson said, adding that the department has already hired the two models in August, and one of them is a freshman. 

“[The recruiting process] is less challenging because there is less of a schedule to orchestrate with,” Thompson said. “But I feel really bad that we can't offer more to students.”

The Hop is typically a large employer, hiring over 200 students at a time, according to Hop director of external affairs Michael Bodel. However, since the Hop will not have in-person public programming this fall, no in-person positions will be available for student employees. As a result, the Hop plans to employ only around 40 students this fall, according to Bodel.

One of the remote positions that will continue to be offered is working at the box office. According to Bodel, three box office student managers were employed this summer to work from home on the call center system to send out confirmation emails and help patrons understand how to watch a Hop@Home event online.

“Our box office will have five to 10 students employed [this fall], and [we] will probably be hiring some new ones because it takes a couple of months to train in all the software, how to sell tickets and answer the phones,” Bodel said. “We will start to accept inquiries from freshmen interested in working in the arts so that [they] can start training in winter and working full time in summer for our summer festivals.”

Academic Skills Center offers remote tutoring jobs

Employment opportunities at the Academic Skills Center and the Tutor Clearinghouse will be limited in the fall, given that one-on-one peer tutoring and the conversation partner program have been halted and will not restart in the near future due to budget reasons, according to ASC associate director Holly Tracy-Potter.

As a result, instead of having one-on-one peer tutors or conversation partners, all tutors will each lead a group of five tutees and will be paid $13.50 per hour, the same rate paid to study group leaders in the past, Tracy-Potter said.

In addition to the group tutor position, the ASC also provides internships that are “heavily involved” in a virtual setting, according to ASC manager Karen Lenz. Lenz said the responsibilities of the interns include data entry, reports compilation, graphic design, social media management and email account management among “many other projects that are conducted virtually.”

Tracy-Potter said that in the past, the ASC has accommodated the work-study requirements of some freshmen during their first term at Dartmouth by offering them math tutoring positions if they learned calculus in high school. She added that she would advise against freshmen becoming group tutors or interns this fall because she thinks their first term at Dartmouth “would be a better time to adjust to the pace of Dartmouth.”

“Managing a group environment [requires you to] be familiar with the way faculty teaches math because college-level math is going to be different [from] what you've learned in high school,” she said.

Drill instructors facilitate online bonding

Meanwhile, drill instructor positions in the French and Italian department will remain virtual, according to French language course coordinator Brigitte Mosenthal. Drill sections in the Spanish and Portuguese department will also be conducted virtually, Spanish language program director Roberto Rey Agudo said, although some introductory Spanish language courses will have on-campus components.

Mosenthal noted that she expects an increase in the number of drill instructors, as the size of virtual drill sessions will be reduced to foster better conversations between instructors and students.

“If we have a class of 18 students, in the past we might have hired only two drill instructors, but now we will definitely have four,” Mosenthal said. “We are going to limit the size of our groups to maximum six, where before it was nine.”

Regarding how virtual drills will proceed, Mosenthal said that although most drill activities will remain the same as in-person drills, there will be more opportunities for students to get to know one another.

“[During] the first two weeks where everybody [on campus] is going to be in quarantine, drill is going to be a venue for students to connect with one another and we know how important it is,” she said.

Rey Agudo said the Spanish and Portuguese department will hire a minimum of 34 drill instructors to teach in the 17 language sections this fall. He added that virtual drills actually provide more flexibility in scheduling across different time zones and locations.

“Typically, we would offer drill at 7:45 [a.m.], 2:10 [p.m.] and 5:30 p.m., and those were the times at which we had classroom space to offer drill,” Rey Agudo said. “We don't have that problem anymore, so instead of offering a fixed time, what we offer is a window of times that may work and then we let the students and the drill instructors figure out exactly what times work for them.”

Mosenthal and Rey Agudo said training in both departments will happen virtually in the first week of class, and both departments welcome freshmen to become drill instructors. Interested students are highly recommended to attend the information session on the first day of class to get a better sense of what drill is like at Dartmouth, Agudo said.

Students assist Admissions Office from afar

According to Admissions Office senior associate director Katherine Madden, the Admissions Office usually provides four employment opportunities for students — reception area assistant, outreach ambassador, bloggers and tour guides. Applications for the first-year blogger position were due on Aug. 21, while recruitment for the other three positions will not happen until the winter term, Madden said.

Chenran Zhang ’23 has been working as a reception area assistant since last winter and has been working remotely since this spring. He noted that the transition to remote work has been a new experience for him, and he appreciates getting to know prospective students who did not have the chance to come to campus.

“It feels like [the reception area assistant] is two totally different jobs,” Zhang said. “Normally I just sit at the front desk, respond to a lot of emails and greet people [who] come to the admissions office. But this time, I had to call incoming students or admitted students who have not yet committed to Dartmouth to answer questions for them.”

Zhang also noted that he was supposed to be trained to become a tour guide this spring. With campus tours paused due to the pandemic, in-person training was postponed and adapted into a four-hour online training in late August, Zhang said. He added that the virtual training included several mandatory shadowing sessions that prepared tour guides to host virtual informational sessions for prospective students.

According to an email statement from Student Employment Office program manager Kari Jo Grant, SEO will hold a virtual student job fair for campus employers and students on Sept. 18. Jobnet, Dartmouth’s online posting service for student positions, will continue to post job opportunities a few weeks into the fall term.

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