The Renegade Rip

Work on campus

A K Pachla, Reporter

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My first experience working a student job on a college campus was…I’m just going to say it… horrible.

I was 19 and enrolled in a small state university in northern Michigan. I didn’t qualify for financial aid because the Department of Education was still counting my parents’ income as mine even though I was a legal adult, so I couldn’t get Workstudy. When I tried to find work off-campus, I was told directly that no one would hire a college student, period.

So I went to my school’s job placement office and asked about working on campus. I told them what I did (at the time, I was an experienced office assistant) and asked where I could work. Naturally, all the jobs I would have wanted were reserved for Workstudy students. Even if the position was available, I couldn’t fill it because I wasn’t in Workstudy.

The only job left on campus for students without Workstudy was washing dishes in the cafeteria and since every non-Workstudy student there was competing for it, everyone got about three hours a week. The job was to basically stand over a hot, stinking puddle of water and try to spray food off plates without getting doused in mess. Naturally, I didn’t last very long.

I came away from that experience thinking that work and school was just something I couldn’t do. If the only jobs I could get were necessarily soulcrushing, there wasn’t going to be any way for me to do that and succeed academically. Turns out I couldn’t do either anyway at that point in my life, but my first impression of what it was like to work on campus, as first impressions do, stuck.

When I was offered Workstudy at Bakersfield College, I relayed the exact story I just told you to the people in Job Placement and said I wasn’t sure if I could do both. When Denise Crawford from WorkAbilityIII heard that, I almost thought she didn’t hear me right because she didn’t even blink. “We’ll see.” I started working right there at WorkAbility right away and after a month, I was transferred to the Department of Public Safety.

It is, without question, the best job I have ever had, and I genuinely don’t think I’d be half as successful at school if I wasn’t working there. It’s not about the money, although that’s nice. The money is already part of the Workstudy grant. It’s already mine. I just have to show up to get it. It’s also not necessarily about job skills, either. I already know how to use office equipment and none of the specialized skills I’ve learned at BCDPS are going to transfer to my eventual career. I’m a fair to middling police dispatcher, but my life is destined to more about bylines than call signs.

My job at BC is about my place in this community. Anyone who knows me might think it’s uncharacteristic for me to identify personally with any sort of law enforcement agency, no matter how small the jurisdiction, but the next time you see one of the Public Safety officers, take a good look at the insignia on his shoulder. It reads “To Protect and Educate.”

Isn’t that what we’re all here for? If you really break it down, isn’t that what every job on this campus is about? The faculty educates us in their passions, protecting us from ignorance and irrelevance. The staff educates us on procedure, protecting us from losing pace and falling behind. The administration educates us on leadership, protecting us from discouragement. Even foodservice and maintenance educate us in the virtue of patience (largely by example) and protect us from getting sick or hurt. Every job here is important, and every employee is essential, because everyone has the same ultimate goal.

Maybe that sounds lofty, and it’s likely my opinion is biased. After all, as a Workstudy student, I’m insulated against a lot of the harsher realities of employment in general that regular employees of the college are subject to. Perhaps they have a better informed opinion than I do, but I hope I’m not too far off. Given what I’ve experienced at BC so far, I

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