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Students can be excused for feeling a little scattered during the start of a semester. There are so many choices and so little time. Whether it is academics, sports, signing up for clubs, or making new friends, each year promises to immerse college students into an experience they will not want to forget. But one critical part of student life often gets placed on the back-burner: student employment.
Employment at the Pub during this semester has been much lower than usual. Shifts have remained unstaffed, resulting in the Pub having to shut down the grill at odd hours.
Pub manager Mary Odhiambo confirmed that the current low employment hinders overall management. She said, “There are a lot of open weekend shifts that are not filled right now [and] that makes it hard for the ones who are here… [who are] doing whatever they can to cover multiple people’s areas.”
Pub employee and freshman Grant Lee said, “There was one day in the Pub where we were short a drinks person and a grill person, so I was just going back and forth between all of [the stations].”
Though he stated that shifting between stations does not hinder his work experience, Lee acknowledged that it makes his job more demanding in terms of attentiveness. He added, “Obviously if there is no one working on Sunday night, then we can’t have the grill open that night.”
A low student employment rate at the Pub is not an entirely new occurrence on the Principia campus. In fact, many factors come into effect when Principia looks at student employment rates as a whole.
“For some people, it doesn’t pay enough,” said Odhiambo. “For others it could be them not being able to do homework while they are at work, like other jobs the campus offers. But that is not the business we are in here.”
As in years past, the Pub’s employment positions are most likely to be filled later in the semester. However, the issue of initially attracting student employees is one that needs to be addressed.
One proposed solution for low Pub employment has been to hire more full-time employees as part of the Dining Staff and have them manage the Pub at all operating hours. However, according to Odhiambo, this solution has proved to be unrealistic. She said, “It is something we have entertained and thought about over the years, but unfortunately it is very hard… [because Principia is] fifteen minutes or miles away… from where people live.”
Odhiambo added, “But if people want the Pub to function [conveniently], we have to figure something out.”
Instead of finding solutions from outside resources, Odhiambo believes in putting more trust in the student body. She said, “I value the experience for students to be working at the Pub, and more [full time employees] means less [student work].”
Putting emphasis on the student’s workplace demeanor is also important for Odhiambo, who sees it as being the focal point of the entire issue. She says, “When you come to work, turn everything else off. This is your moment to not think about the homework or exam coming up. When you come in, you are responsible, you are committed, and you are ready to give it your best effort.”
This mindset is something Odhiambo and Pub student managers, like Harmony Nash, look to instill in their new employees who want to work in the Pub. “There are a lot of new freshmen that are willing to do it,” said Nash. “It is a cool thing to see people who may be inexperienced willing to try things out for the first time.”
While it may not be in the best position in terms of staffing, the Pub offers its employees an educational work experience. “We have to expect a lot out of our student employees because a lot is expected from us,” stated Odhiambo. “You are learning a skill. It is a work ethic where you are learning how to communicate, time manage, and be a part of a team. The skills that you are learning here are part of the whole man principle of Principia.”