Where to Work: Student Jobs On and Off Campus
One writer explores the motivation behind how students choose jobs around campus.
Dartmouth students are busy people. To be a student is to balance a wide variety of obligations on campus: classes, sports, clubs, performance groups and sometimes more. For many students, working a job is another obligation to juggle. The Dartmouth spoke with students about where they work and how they found jobs that fit their interests and busy schedules.
Olvin Abrego Ayala ’25, who works at Ramekin Cafe, described how many students rely on jobs to support themselves and others.
“I, like so many other people who are on financial aid, [was looking] for spaces [to] work where [I] could make sure that [I can] still attend to … classes and stuff,” Ayala said. “Everyone has a very different situation, but a lot of people send money back home to their families … [or] they don’t get enough financial aid. In my case …because I’m an independent student, it’s about having enough money to buy plane tickets and stuff.”
Another student, Natalia Schmitter-Emerson ’26, works at The Ivy Edit, a clothing boutique on Main Street. Her responsibilities include taking inventory, working the register and assisting customers. She enjoys the work, especially since it lacks the “seven and a half hour shifts” characteristic of her job at Massage Envy back home.
“I was looking [for] something in between chill and fast-paced because I like to have time to relax,” Schmitter-Emerson said. “I tried to find a middle ground between doing nothing and being unable to stop constantly.”
Eamon Hanley ’23 looked for a job that was well-suited to gaps in his schedule. Hanley, who works as a barista at The Nest, explained how his goal was to find a job that could fill the time around the two classes he’s taking this term.
“I was thinking, I’m going to be a fifth year student, so … I was going to have a lot of free time that I wanted to fill,” Hanley said. “My buddy was telling me that he worked as a sandwich maker at The Nest, and so he sent me the phone number of the person who owns it.”
The numerous stores in Hanover provide many diverse jobs for students, but for those looking to stay on campus, Dartmouth offers a variety of employment opportunities as well. Whether you’re looking to make money, fill empty hours or pursue a passion, you can likely find a suitable job at the College.
Cooper Laporte ’26, an avid climber, has turned his passion into profit by working as a route setter for the climbing gym. Even though he wasn’t actively looking for a job, he couldn’t pass up the opportunity to “get paid” to do “something that interested [him].”
“I’m really big into rock climbing,” Laporte said. “I would go to the climbing gym a lot, so I knew the head setter. He wanted to make a program to train some setters so they could be setting once he [graduated]. I trained with him and then started setting.”
Student jobs don’t only entail laborious work. Schmitter-Emerson shed some light on the fun aspects of her job at The Ivy Edit that also leave a positive impact on others.
“I think my favorite thing is probably seeing people when they try something on and they’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, this looks great on me!’” Schmitter-Emerson said. “I feel great, especially because there are a lot of high school girls who come in for Homecoming dresses and things like that. When they have that moment, I feel like I’ve helped them in some way.”
There’s a great deal of value in the experiences a job can provide students, even though they may not be related to a potential career or future pursuit.
“I made a climb last year, and this one guy who I see a lot says that he thinks about it at least like twice a week because he spent [around] 15 sessions at the climbing gym working on it,” Laporte said. “It’s cool having those lasting impacts and setting climbs that really are important to people.”
Even though they love their jobs, finding time for shifts can be difficult. Depending on their schedules, students have varying levels of difficulty managing their jobs with their academic and extracurricular pursuits. Schimtter-Emerson described how, on days that she’s working, she gets “no break.”
“It’s a little bit challenging because I have afternoon classes,” Schmitter-Emerson said. “So on days I’m working, I wake up, I go to work decently early in the morning, and then I have to go straight into class. And then I have extracurriculars afterwards.”
Ayala described the difficulties of balancing other commitments with “weird” hours.
“Last fall, I was working at both Ramekin and the McLaughlin snack bar,” Ayala said. “So [I] was [working] from like 12 [a.m.] to 2 a.m. … That’s probably what [made] it a little hard, but thankfully, this term, my [hours] are pretty manageable.”
However, not all students feel the pressure of balancing shift hours and academics. Hanley described how simple it is to work around school at The Nest with his two classes.
“It actually is pretty easy to schedule [shifts] around classes,” Hanley said. “I’ll go to my 10 and then I’ll work for two and a half hours, and then I’ll go to my 2, and I’ll get a free lunch in between. And during that time, I would probably just be sitting in FFB doing nothing.”
Retail and service jobs like Hanley’s, Schmitter-Emerson’s and Ayala’s vary vastly in their hours compared to Laporte’s position at the climbing gym, which requires him to go in “for four hours every Sunday morning.” His job also leaves more room for creativity than those of Hanley, Schmitter-Emerson and Ayala.
“We all get assigned a difficulty range to make the wall [each week],” Laporte said. “You find what holds you want to use, and you imagine it on the wall. Then you just get into it and try different things.”
Though they all pose their own challenges, the wide range of on and off-campus jobs means that there’s a unique opportunity out there for every student.
“I’d highly suggest finding a job in town,” Hanley said. “Honestly, it’s a very manageable workload. Even if you are taking hard classes, it’s still pretty easy to just reach out to a business owner in town and go spend ten hours a week max working at something.”
Despite the challenge of juggling commitments, there seems to be a common sentiment that having a student job can pay in a lot more than just money; there’s value in the relationships that are formed through jobs around campus. Laporte spoke fondly of the “camaraderie” between him and his fellow route setters, and Schmitter-Emerson remarked on the presence of other Dartmouth women at The Ivy Edit.
“It’s nice meeting other Dartmouth students [at work] because, even though the shop isn’t affiliated with Dartmouth, it’s almost exclusively Dartmouth students that work there,” Schmitter-Emerson said. “Most of the clientele is also Dartmouth students, so it’s been a fun social experience to have so many interactions with random students that I wouldn’t otherwise have.”
While it may seem like just another responsibility, jobs come in all different shapes and sizes meant to fit varying student availability. So next time you’re at the gym, in the library or strolling down Main Street, keep an eye out. The perfect job for you might be right there, hidden in plain sight.