Student jobs offer not only income, but a sense of community

Student jobs offer not only income, but a sense of community

Photo Credits: QUINN SPOONER / AGGIE

Students share experiences working for Whole Earth Festival, Unitrans, Mikuni

As students begin to develop routines and get back into the groove of school, some may find that they have the time and energy to manage either an on or off-campus job. Some on-campus opportunities may be found using Handshake, the replacement for Aggie Job Link, whereas others can be found on the ASUCD vacancy website. Off-campus opportunities can be found by looking at popular job sites such as indeed.com, the individual establishment’s website or by directly contacting a manager.  

ASUCD employs more than 1,000 students, and 10 different units are currently hiring — one being the Whole Earth Festival (WEF). Fourth-year art history and English major Kennedy Field, unit director for the festival, explained how the event began as an art event for a course in 1969. The goal was to “use art as a transformative experience, focusing on environmental and social justice activism.” After that, it became an annual event — recently celebrating its 50th anniversary in Spring 2019.

“Over the years, the WEF began to expand and expand into what it is now — a giant, kooky, strange and gentle festival,” Field said via email. “The festival has always been run by mostly students, but in the last five years it has transitioned to being entirely student-run.”

Field became involved during their first year because a friend was in charge of nighttime security and needed volunteers who got code names and walkie talkies.

“I volunteered at night and stayed up during the days to enjoy the festival,” Field said via email. “I had always loved UC Davis, but my experience at Whole Earth Festival made me feel like I had found my home and my family.”

Field’s favorite part of WEF is the community it creates, using the word “magical” to sum up the entire weekend. Field recommends that students apply to be part of the staff before the application closes on Oct. 20. 

“WEF gives a unique opportunity [to] the staff members,” Field said via email. “It is not every day that a student is entirely in charge of booking bands for a three-day festival or coordinating over 100 craft booths. WEF teaches really valuable life experience to the staff members and gives students a special kind of autonomy.” 

 Field noted that there have been issues in the past and that they and their co-director have set out to make changes. 

“We hope to stop the festival’s history of cultural appropriation and make the space inclusive to folks of all identities,” Field said via email.

Some students, like second-year clinical nutrition major Samantha Seefeldt, seek jobs off campus. Seefeldt thought it would be helpful to have an income because she noticed expenses piling up and chose to apply to Mikuni in Downtown Davis, in part because she worked at a sushi restaurant in her hometown for two years. 

“It’s a perfect fit,” Seefeldt said. “Mikuni is also expanding its restaurant. It’s staying in a similar area, but they’re just creating more space. And because of this, they’re hiring more people, so I’m hoping to be able to have an opportunity there.”

Seefeldt did not have a job as a first-year student, focusing primarily on transitioning into college. She feels like she is now in a place with a solid schedule and the time to manage a job. 

“I’m most looking forward to hopefully meeting a lot of the employees and having a community there,” Seefeldt said. “It’s always nice to have a nice community at work and having some sort of income to help with college expenses. Even some spending money would be nice.”

Other popular establishments known to hire students on a rolling basis include Burgers and Brew, Third & U Cafe, de Vere’s Irish Pub and Yoloberry. 

Unitrans is also hiring through the ASUCD vacancy webpage, and fifth-year wildlife, fish and conservation biology major Michael Lenihan, the transit driver manager, can be reached for questions about openings. Lenihan was hired in Spring 2016 and has been a transit driver for three and a half years. He also holds the positions of driver trainer and route supervisor. 

“The job appealed to me because it’s on-campus, student-run, very flexible, high-paying and comes with paid training for a very unique skill,” Lenihan said via email.

One of Lenihan’s favorite parts about working with Unitrans is the community. All of the students go through similar struggles, but they also have a supportive atmosphere and take pride in what they do for the community. 

“Another favorite aspect of the job for me is the opportunity for leadership,” Lenihan said via email. “Drivers have numerous opportunities to gain very impressive leadership experience […] It means a lot to me that Unitrans knows the value of its student employees and trusts them with incredible responsibility — responsibility that empowers and prepares all of our employees before and after graduation.”

Lenihan said that a Unitrans job is flexible, fun and unique, but he also emphasized that the job needs to be taken seriously.

“You have to respect how much goes into operating a bus, and you have to put in your part,” Lenihan said via email. “Keeping service running is a massive team effort, and we need team members that we can trust, who will study the material and will show up on time. If you care enough to do that, the job will reward you very generously.”

According to Lenihan, students should not be afraid of the workload. Almost all employees are students, and Unitrans allows students to put their academics first. They make allowances for drivers to step back and focus on school as needed and shifts are built perfectly around class schedules. 

“If you have an hour break between classes, you can just walk to a terminal, drive for 50 minutes, then head to your class,” Lenihan said via email. “Also, learning about buses and transit is fascinating — most drivers started out with no interest in transit, and now we all proudly proclaim ourselves as bus nerds.”

Through the job, Lenihan believes that employees will learn about themselves as workers and team members but also about the city of Davis and its people.

“You’ll be introduced to a community that will absolutely help you grow as a college student,” Lenihan said via email. “It has taught me how to be a student with a job, and all the skills that come along with that, as well as giving me a massive group of co-workers to call friends. It’s completely changed my time in college and made me more well-rounded, as a student, a worker and a person, and I love introducing new faces to our culture and our mission.”

Written by: Anjini Venugopal — features@theaggie.org