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Should students care about part-time work?

Jane Lytvynenko | Fulcrum Staff

The moment chicken started flying at my face and creamy coleslaw was dumped down my shirt, I realized I’m probably not taking my job seriously. Sure, the responsible thing to do would have been to wipe the gravy off my glasses and clean the kitchen, but trying to stick my coworker’s nose in coconut cream pie was so much more enjoyable.

When I worked a job with no opportunities, I made the opportunities myself. You know, the opportunity to nap in the back room, try the new dish for free, or call in sick when the latest Call of Duty was released. Chicken will serve itself, I thought, but I’m missing out on some valuable “Jane” time.

It’s no secret that I did not see my part-time job at Swiss Chalet as a real responsibility. At minimum wage and with minimum opportunities for growth, who would? Selling chicken was not my goal in life; it was a cash cow enabling me to grab a beer with friends and afford bus fare on the way back.

The way I see it, there will be plenty of time to put blood, sweat, and tears into a 9–5 while trying to break the glass ceiling before it breaks your skull. When the door hits us on the way out of university and we plummet face-first into the real world, we’re going to have to deal with stuffy bosses and making a name for ourselves. But serving coffee, sandwiches, or whatever it may be should not come with stress and anxiety.

Our time in university is supposed to be fun. It is one last chance to deform our liver and take thousands of pictures we’ll post to Facebook, only to take them down later because Mr. Thousand-dollar-suit doesn’t want to hire someone who has been crowned the beer pong champ of 2012. And because our employers are not going to make our time serving sandwiches fun, it’s up to us.

Of course, you should always take precautions. Befriend the manager at your workplace to make sure you don’t get fired—later on in life, he or she could give you a great reference. Be nice to your coworkers. And just because it’s not a real job, that doesn’t mean you can constantly be late, out of uniform, or slacking off. Minimum wage requires a minimum effort, but an effort nonetheless.

So when you go to your next shift, instead of freaking out over productivity, work at your own pace. If a customer decides to put the weight of the world on your shoulders, ask them if they want fries with that attitude. And if your boss is not looking, start a food fight. Sometimes life is better with chicken all over your face and coleslaw down your shirt.