When I came to the University of Michigan and started looking for a part-time job, I wasn’t expecting too much from it. I thought it would just take up some time and put a little money in my pocket. But after three years of working at the Hill Dining Center Marketplace, I can say I’ve learned a lot from my experiences as a Student Manager there.
There is always work to be done at the Hill Dining Center, and I am responsible for making sure that many tasks are completed efficiently—from scheduling and office work to cleaning and washing dishes. It is easy to spot the student manager in a dining center: search for the student worker with a busy and preoccupied, yet still hopeful and authoritative, look on his or her face.
To better understand this look, take a walk with me around the dining center. We’ll walk outside, take a sharp turn to the left and check all of the beverage machines to make sure they are full and that backup is stocked underneath. Then we’ll walk over to the serving stations and make sure food is out, dishes are stocked, employees are serving, signs are displayed in front of each dish, and that the line is not too long. If anything is out of place, it needs to be corrected. After checking all of the serving stations, we’ll take a look at the deli and sushi stations to make sure everything is running smoothly. Then onto the salad bar, which generally needs “a little lovin’” to keep it refreshed and tidy for the steady flow of diners. make it look nicer. Desserts often need replenishing because everyone loves cookies. Coffee and tea also need to be refilled, tables always need to be cleaned and the floors often need attention as well.
If that doesn’t seem like enough to do, we also have to figure out where to move people when workers call in sick or when we’re short staffed. A coordinator constantly has to decide what will take priority over another task. Milk or Sushi? Dishes brought out or tables wiped? UGH! Did you just hear dishes break?
At first, this job wasn’t a big part of my life. But the students and staff I work with have made the Hill Dining Center much more to me than just a source of spending money. It is now like a second home (even though sometimes I’m here so often, my apartment feels like a second home). I have learned responsibility, time management, respect for all people (even when they are upset with me) and a good work ethic. Working for Dining Services has contributed to my education and bettered my time here at the University of Michigan, and I am glad I happened to stumble upon this job as a freshman. Yes, there have been a few days I’ve just wanted to scream, pull out my hair, yell “I QUIT!” and leave. But there are exponentially more days when it’s been rewarding, and when I’ve stuck around after clocking out to chat with my coworkers, who have become some of my best friends. These good memories and the skills I have learned make the job worthwhile.
Evan Malinowski is a member of the Class of 2011 majoring in history and political science and a Student Manager at the Hill Dining Center.
By Evan Malinowski