Student Life

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Upon graduation, senior Sam Kavalier departed the University of Michigan with a bachelor’s degree and market-ready skills from working with Michigan Dining.

What started out as an opportunity to earn money with a short commute, turned out to be a chance to build “soft skills” that employers highly value. Kavalier transitioned from cooking meals and washing dishes at the East Quad Dining Hall to working for Epic Systems Corporation, a fast-growing healthcare software company in Madison, Wisconsin.

“I learned a lot of things -- culinary arts, use of equipment and life skills. I also made friends,” said Kavalier.

During Kavalier’s interview for his post-college job, the recruiter took an interest not only in his political science-German studies but also in his dining hall job. That experience translated into communication, teamwork, customer service, and problem-solving skills, all of which make The National Association of Colleges and Employers’ top ten list of important qualities in today’s marketplace.

“Being an important contributor who makes a positive influence on an organization is compelling, regardless of whether it is a dining job or a formalized internship. Both demonstrate how you will behave as an employee,” saidCareer Center’s Chelsea Greene, who counsels students on how to position their experience in resumes and interviews.

Michigan Dining jobs also offer students training and opportunities to manage people in a large organization with the guidance of peers and professionals. Unlike off-campus businesses, Michigan Dining manages its student staff with a learning-centered style at all its dining halls, markets, and cafes.

Dining employees work in a fast-paced environment and develop an ability to stay calm, think on their feet, and deliver excellent service. Students earn a starting wage of $9/hour, choose their schedules, eat a free meals during their shifts, and get guaranteed time off during breaks and flexibility around exam time.

“We provide a low-risk environment for students to learn how to function in the workplace. We have many growth opportunities for engaged, committed workers,” said Fireside Cafe’ Manager Michael DeVries, who launched the newly renovated eatery at Pierpont Commons on North campus.

An inconvenient commute to an off-campus job led DeVries to consider joining Michigan Dining as a first-year student in 2005, and he decided to stay on after being promoted through the ranks. Ten years later, DeVries is part of a team that recently earned the industry’s highest accolade for a marketplace retail concept at a large school.

“There is a lot of room for growth in Michigan Dining if you are knowledgeable, innovative, and willing to work hard,” said DeVries.

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