5, 2000, Gazette)
I interest you in our evening special? Would you
like fries with that? These are a few of the questions
that many students are asking outside of class. Welcome to the
service industry. The land of milk(shakes)and honey glistens
for university students who, in light of staggering tuition fees,
are looking for ways to make money. As relieving as it is to
have an income, there is less time to study, party, and even
sleep. Instead of enjoying extracurricular activities, many students
are serving the public. Working at a job while attending school
does pose problems for students. Does this change the need for
some students to work too many hours? No.
Attending university is expensive. Many students all across Canada
do not have enough money to live and go to school. They are left
with one of two options. Some people choose to borrow money to
cover the costs. Study after study shows that the average student
debt has increased to nearly $30,000 at graduation. For those
who refuse the burden of owing such a sum, this poses a problem.
Students who wish to leave the university debt-free are forced
to work full-time while balancing a busy course load. Other students
are working part-time to supplement loans that do not suffice.
Some students are missing over half of their classes because
Unfortunately, well-paying jobs are hard to come by. The majority
of jobs available to students only pay the provincial minimum
wage of $5.50 an hour. In order to buy a $70 textbook, a student
must work for over 12 hours. And while students may earn more
in jobs where it is customary to tip, working for 12 hours in
the service industry is like completing a 12-hour obstacle course.
After a full day of classes and tending to a list of other priorities,
arriving at work on time is next. This leaves little time to
quietly reflect upon what was said in class that day. In this
business, feet get swollen and the hours can be grueling. Carrying
a huge oval tray around for eight hours, or hauling dozens of
beer for restocking are sure ways to strain body parts. Stress
is also a factor. Take bartending. Cocktails with 12 ingredients
take time to make, and of course, 22 people would like one at
the same time. Or perhaps its rush hour(s) at the drive-through
and there are endless carloads of eager customers to serve. The
challenge is real is it humanly possible to smile and
be friendly again and again? While some customers are downright
angelic, others are not.
Yes, service with a smile is definitely preferred. And there
are plenty of friendly people who smile easily and patiently.
The utterly condescending, on the other hand, are another story.
These customers are mostly into snapping their fingers and being
bossy. They are not handing out any medals for students who are
at work after classes. Thankfully, these customers are not the
majority. Serving has been called a thankless profession, but
of course, it has its virtues.
Many managers are sensitive to the needs of working students.
New skills in dealing effectively with the public are important.
Meeting with over 60 strangers in one day is interesting, as
energy-consuming as it is. Working with a team of co-workers
will reveal if one knows how to play well with others or not.
Making new friends and acquaintances is fun. The problem is that
working while attempting to do ones best at university is distracting.
Attaining a scholarship while working full-time requires juggling
skills that would make anyone dizzy. For many, being forced to
work while attending university is a reality.
Students seeking employment inside or outside the service industry
can try these Web sites: