Student workers find community within on- and off-campus jobs

Many students shared that their work allows them to create a community outside of classes.

by Arizbeth Rojas | 8/31/22 5:00am

8-20-22-emilliden-collis
by Emil Liden / The Dartmouth Staff

This article is featured in the 2022 Freshman special issue.

While the college experience demands attention on academics, many students also balance part-time jobs on campus, from serving as an undergraduate advisor to working in Dartmouth Dining facilities.

Since its inception in 1994, the Student Employment Office has assisted students searching for on-campus and local job opportunities. While the office’s resources are available for all students, some job listings are work-study only, meaning that they satisfy the work-study component included in a student’s financial aid packages. Many student workers have also used Jobnet Query, an online database of jobs managed by the office, to filter through jobs they are eligible for and eventually find employment. 

Carly Walther-Porino ’25, a student worker at Collis Cafe, said she found her job through a friend who had recommended Collis as a good place to work and found the listing on Jobnet. Similarly, Alejo Rincon ’25 said he had heard Novack Cafe paid well, so he applied over last winter break and joined the staff during winter term. 

“Dartmouth Dining for one is a good source of jobs. But if you’re interested in something else, just go out and ask or try to network with your friends and see what they’ve heard about,” Kaitlyn Anderson ’24 said. 

This January, student workers at Dartmouth Dining Services launched the Student Worker Collective at Dartmouth, a union that sought voluntary recognition by the College — which President Phil Hanlon rejected later that month. According to some students, the push for a recognized student union led to changes in the College’s policy, such as the implementation of a 50% wage increase. In late March, Dartmouth Dining student workers unanimously voted to recognize the SWCD.  

The COVID-19 pandemic also shed light on student workers and working conditions, such as increased exposure to COVID-19, pay stagnation and a labor shortage in the Upper Valley, all of which created frustration among many student workers. Last October, the College announced that the minimum wage for on-campus jobs would be raised to $11.50 per hour. 

Aside from Dartmouth Dining Services, some students find employment at other departments on campus, such as Hinman Mail Center. Anderson said she also used Jobnet to find a job at Hinman. After sending initial emails to Hinman, she then visited in person, where other workers gave her a “lowdown” of the job. 

“All I do at Hinman is pretty much stack boxes and scan people in and out,” Anderson said. “It's really easy for me, and I like that part of it.”

Mollie Berry ’25 said she used Jobnet in January to apply for her position as an undergraduate advisor for first-year students. Following an online application with short written responses and an interview, Berry said she was notified that she had gotten the job via email in the spring term. 

“I always knew I wanted to help out first-years make the transition to Dartmouth, so that was what attracted me to the job,” Berry said.

According to Berry, some of the features of her job as a UGA include covering the expense of the 80-block meal plan, guaranteed housing and a termly payment of $2,000. 

Walther-Porino said that the “best part” of her job is having a community outside of her classes. 

“School can be pretty isolating with just students and professors, but you get a sense of the real world outside of the Dartmouth bubble by working,” Walther-Porino said. “Even though I’m at work, it feels like a break from the stress of school because, at work, I can talk about normal stuff, not just school.” 

At Collis, Walther-Porino said she is responsible for working the register, wiping down tables and refilling the condiments station at closing time. Likewise, Rincon said that at Novack, he takes people’s orders, makes drinks and stocks snack items. Both Rincon and Walther-Porino said they enjoy the social aspect of working during the lunch rush and seeing familiar faces in the checkout line. 

“I've definitely made friends with people that I don’t think I would have seen otherwise on campus,” Rincon said. 

Rincon said that as a student-athlete on the men’s cross country team, he is unable to pick up as many hours as other student workers. Walther-Porino also said that she had imagined it would be difficult to balance academics and work, but she has found her hours at Collis to be “flexible.” For instance, Walther-Porino said she was able to work around her midterm schedule.

“You could never do that with a job off-campus — they just wouldn’t understand,” Walther-Porino said. 

Annabel Everett ’25, a worker at The Nest Cafe in Hanover, said that while her schedule allows her to work around her classes, she found balancing work difficult when she had to close at 3 p.m. but had a 3A class starting at 3:30 p.m. the same day.

Everett said that part of the appeal of working off campus included interacting with Hanover residents.

“One of my favorite parts is that there’s a lot of people from town,” Everett said. “I love the regulars because it makes me feel like I am getting to know Hanover as a town more than just as a college place.”

Anderson also said that how many days a week she works depends on her course load for the term. For instance, Anderson said her classes during the summer term were on Tuesday and Thursday, so she worked Monday, Wednesday and Friday. 

Walther-Porino added that she initially believed she didn’t  have enough time to work, but her experience at Collis has shown her otherwise. 

“You can fit working into your schedule — sometimes it takes a little bit of budgeting time, but you can do it,” Walther-Porino said. 

Annabel Everett ’25 is a member of The Dartmouth's Mirror staff. 

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