On any given bustling Friday afternoon, there is an influx of students that shuffle into the tiny Field Production Services office hungry for technical equipment. Reservations are shouted across the room, as employees behind the counter swipe BU cards and rush to meet the demands of their persistent clientele. With a checking of a few boxes and a signature, the exchange between employee and customer underneath the fluorescent lights of the FPS’s office is fulfilled and honored as in any ordinary consumer situation. However, when both persons meet on the other side of the counter, they are both Boston University students—who have high chances of being in the same classes, year, or even living in the same dormitory. The on-campus job market is a distinctive opportunity that provides students with the experience to work with other students for other students.
On that same Friday afternoon at the J. Crew Men’s shop in Copley Place, one faces an entirely different student work environment in the rush of the retail hour. Students working retail jobs are forced to expand their language in order to communicate effectively with the variety of common shoppers of all shapes and ages. A language that unveils how to handle exchanges between businessmen looking for the perfect khakis, women shopping for their boyfriend’s interviews, or even older men getting gifts for their sons. The world grows bigger working outside of the BU bubble, and after the student employee punches out, the only thing they might have in common with the customer on the other side of the counter is that they share the same zip code.
Although these ventures remain drastically independent of each other, the one thing these experiences prove is that the average student of the 21st century is simultaneously employed while in college. The benefits and disadvantages of the on-campus work environment versus the off-campus work environment highlight the average student’s week-to-week experience.
For Maysie Childs (COM ‘14) and many other students who seek job opportunities in the Boston area, the main benefit of getting a job off-campus is the escape from the BU atmosphere.
“I work with a lot of kids from different universities all around Boston and it’s really fun,” said Childs. “I get to know different places by working off-campus. I go out with my friends from work and I met people who I probably would’ve never met, like students who go to Emerson or Northeastern.”
This is a major benefit that attracts a lot of students, because of its large effect on the student’s impression of Boston outside of university culture. Like Childs continues to describe, working with a team of co-workers of different ages and various backgrounds greatly broadens the perspective overall.
“Whenever I go to work, I try to do something different after, and things like that wouldn’t happen if I didn’t work with people who don’t go to the same school as me. A lot of people are so busy and don’t have time, so it’s an easy way to get my head out of campus life.”
Although Childs thoroughly enjoys her 20-minute commute to work, and enjoys the nice breather that it provides, many students find this aspect of an off-campus job the most discouraging. With everything lined down Commonwealth Avenue for Boston University students, the convenient locale of an on-campus job is the main benefit that students discover.
Rochelle Li (COM ’15) has worked both off-campus and on-campus jobs in the past, and finds that her current on-campus position working for the Field Production Services is the most beneficial to her studies as a Communications major.
“In the past I’ve worked at restaurants,” said Li, “And even though it may pay more you have to think about the opportunity costs that get you there.”
Students find their on-campus jobs through the student job services, which place student’s work study grants from the university into positions throughout the campus. Since many students are not given the choice of a work-study grant, like Childs did her junior year, job-hunting becomes transferred from within the campus to the surrounding commercial community.
“Coming to college for the first time sometimes this is the first job that some people have and so trying to find something that fits the personality of the individual and also stimulates interest in what they’re doing is hard overall, especially for on-campus jobs,” said Li.
Student job services could not be reached for a comment on this issue.
Like a village of college students, every corner of this city is run by the service of its college students. Popular off-campus positions include baristas, sales associates and secretaries. In the Boston University atmosphere, students occupy positions of crucial importance to the student life, such as maintaining print jobs and aiding cooks in the dining hall. Their presence is undeniably heavy in the community through and through.
“[An off-campus job] is like BU because it’s very diverse,” said Childs. “When I’m off-campus I’m not as inclined to be as stressed out about work. Whenever I leave J. Crew I’m in a better mood, and I’m not thinking about all the stuff I have to do.”