University of San Francisco students have long worked during their college years to support their education, and today’s generation of students is no exception. While many work in jobs off campus, more than 1,700 USF students are employed in on-campus positions. Not only do they earn money and gain experience from their jobs, but their assistance also keeps the university running smoothly.
Here’s a small sampling of some of the more interesting campus jobs and the students who occupy them.
Junior, Exercise and Sport Science
Class instructor at Koret Health and Recreation Center
That heart-thumping Latin music emanating from the Koret Health and Recreation Center might sound more at home in a dance club than a gym. But, it’s from Koret’s most popular exercise class—Zumba, a dance-based aerobics class. Instructor Ashley Guevara’s Tuesday and Thursday evening classes regularly draw so many people—up to 75 at a time—that the class had to be moved to a bigger room. Her Friday afternoon class attracts about 25.
“People always come up to me and say, ‘Oh my God, I loved your class,’” says Guevara. “I understand. You’re at the gym, you want to work out, you can run on the treadmill, but that’s no fun. This is like being at a club without the lights.” Guevara recognized that the instant she took her first Zumba class back home in Miami. She was hooked, taking classes every chance she got. When she saw a San Francisco workshop to certify Zumba instructors, she signed up right away. “The first thing I did (after getting certified) was go to Koret,” which didn’t join the Zumba craze until Guevara’s class debuted in September.
Homework: Guevara is always on the lookout for new songs to use in class; when she finds one, she choreographs dance steps by practicing at home and then drawing stick figures to remind herself of the moves. Because that prep takes a few hours, she doesn’t always change the songs as often as she’d like. “If you notice my songs are the same a lot, I haven’t had free time,” she says.
No Experience Needed: Guevara’s classes draw a mix of students, faculty, staff, and other gym patrons, but there’s one group she hasn’t yet persuaded to stop by—her exercise and sport science professors, who cite a lack of dancing skills. But, as Guevara points out, she includes only four basic steps in each song and repeats those throughout so that people of all dancing abilities can enjoy the class. “People who dance love it, people who don’t dance love it. They really want to learn,” she says. All have smiles on their (sweat-soaked) faces: “That’s what Zumba is all about—having fun while you work out.”
Student assistant for the athletics department
Matt King’s job constantly changes. He typically works at four athletics games each week, but the sport varies according to the season, and King’s duties vary, too.
At men’s basketball games, he’s sometimes scurrying around as an operations assistant—tracking down forgotten items, cleaning up spills, making sure everyone’s in place for autograph signing. It’s busy, but there’s always an upside. “I found it interesting that you could have a job where you get paid to go to a game you were going to go to anyways,” he says.
The most challenging part of his job? Learning the rules. Originally from Jamaica, King knew nothing about basketball. Volleyball was completely foreign to him as well. Even soccer, which he was familiar with, was a challenge since rules for college soccer are different than those for professional soccer. And working soccer games means being at the ready the entire game—King has helped control substitutions, keep time, track who scored and who assisted, and chase down balls. “It’s amazing how quickly a ball can go missing,” he says.
Hitting the Right Note: Handling the music played during basketball games is King’s favorite assignment—he sits courtside with the announcer and picks music from his iPod to help pump up the crowd. It’s not always easy finding songs that appeal both to students and the older alumni attending the game: “If I’m playing too much hip-hop, they’ll be the first to say something.”
Clean-up Crew: King’s job doesn’t end with the game. While the janitorial staff cleans the upper areas of the gym, King and others from athletics help out in the lower areas. That means packing up the chairs and tables and picking up leftover trash—students make the biggest mess, he says. “At least at athletics games, you never know what’s coming next. In an office job, it would be, ‘Today’s filing, tomorrow’s filing, the day after that’s filing.’ Instead, I never know what’s going to happen.”
Before setting off on a 90-minute tour of campus, Sabeen Kaka always asks those in her group to let her know if she’s about to run into something. After all, while Kaka may glance behind her occasionally, she spends most of her time walking backwards as she guides prospective students and their parents around all of USF’s main sites, from Lone Mountain to the residence halls to Koret Health and Recreation Center to St. Ignatius Church. “Obviously you don’t walk down the stairs backwards because that’s just asking to get hurt,” she says. Throughout, Kaka gives an overview of USF, from the number of student clubs to the university’s history.
In addition to leading campus tours, Kaka also helps with other admission programs, such as open houses for prospective students, online chat sessions with admitted students, and a shadow program in which admitted students attend class with an ambassador. In all those interactions, Kaka serves as a connection to USF. “I had one girl at the open house ask for my Facebook profile. She said, ‘I want to be friends with you,’ so that was pretty cool.”
Tour Highlights: Without a doubt, Kaka says, the residence halls and the cafeteria are the most popular stops on the tour. Both students and parents like to learn about things such as quiet hours, guest policies, food options, and Kaka’s thoughts on them. “I always try to fill my tours with personal experiences because it really shows you’re into the school, you’ve had experiences here and you’re not just a robot. I’ll tell them about how I lofted my bed up in the dorms and fell off (the bed)—twice.”
Speaking Up: “When I was a new tour guide, everything that came up was something I’d never expected. I was terrified,” says Kaka. “I signed up for this because I knew I could do it, but I would get butterflies every time a tour came up.” Now, there’s rarely a question she hasn’t heard and she welcomes all of them. “I hate having a silent tour. It’s really hard when no one asks any questions and they’re just staring at you and they’re silent. I think, ‘I couldn’t possibly have answered every single question you could possibly think of.’” If she doesn’t get a chance to share all her campus knowledge with her tours, there’s always family and friends. “They’re like, ‘OK, you’re not giving a tour. You can stop.’”
General manager of Crossroads Café
If you’re trying to find Hailey Anderson on campus, it’s a pretty safe bet she’ll be at Crossroads Café. “I’ve definitely spent more time here than anywhere else on campus and I even lived in the dorms,” says the general manager of the student-run café.
Anderson oversees about 60 employees, takes inventory, handles the ordering of coffee (Bon Appétit, USF’s food service provider, handles food ordering), helps with hiring staff, and makes sure everything runs smoothly. As Anderson puts it, she’s the one “ultimately responsible for anything that goes wrong.”
That’s a lot to keep track of, especially for someone without any food experience before starting as a freshman working at one of the food stations. Anderson had such a great time that first year that she wanted to make sure everyone enjoyed working there as much as she did. She rose through the ranks and was promoted to general manager her junior year. “If you can make it easy for someone else, make them happy in their job, that’s great,” she says. “Customers can tell when someone doesn’t want to be serving them.”
More Professional: During her tenure, Anderson has helped professionalize the operation. She has put into place a training program for all new employees, instituted regular employee evaluations, and set up checklists for each shift to make sure everything gets done on time. She also meets weekly with supervisors.
Always on Call: “Very rarely can I come in here and not get asked a question,” says Anderson, who stops by at all times. “I take everything into account, from the way it looks to the way employees behave.” She also knows to expect phone calls and text messages at all hours, even on the weekends. “It’s just expected,” she says of the time outside the 20 to 30 hours a week she spends at work. But, Anderson says, “It’s a really cool opportunity. I can’t imagine any other place on campus where I could have gotten so much experience.”
Whether he’s at home, in class, or just out and about, Kyle Livingston knows he has to set a good example. “You’re always in the RA spotlight, whether you’re on campus or not,” he says. One of two resident advisers for the sixth floor of Gillson Hall, Livingston serves as friend, listening ear, and all-around USF expert to 52 freshmen. He also organizes five programs a semester for his residents; some are on required topics (personal safety, for example) and others are tailored to residents’ interests such as hiking trips.
That adds up to a lot of time. Sure, there’s the free room and board RAs receive, but Livingston calculated that it works out to be about $2 an hour given the amount of work involved. “You definitely don’t work just for the room and board,” he says. “You definitely have to like engaging residents, interacting with them and want to see them grow and you have to want to grow yourself.” Livingston enjoys watching his residents transform over the course of the year from “students with a high school mentality to a college mentality.”
Open Door Policy: Livingston welcomes his residents to stop by at any time. “I try to keep my door open as much as possible,” he says. He wants them to feel free to drop in, chat about their days, and discuss any issues they’re having. That personal interaction—whether in the hallways, cafeteria, or elsewhere on campus—is the crux of his job.
More Than an Authority Figure: Part of Livingston’s job involves writing incident reports for violation of dorm rules, but he hopes that doesn’t overshadow his other duties. “A lot of people see us as the authority figures and while that’s an important part of the job, it’s not the main reason,” he says. “We’re not here to get people in trouble. We’re here to make sure everyone has the opportunity to live and learn in a safe environment.” For Livingston, that has meant mediating roommate disputes and helping a student who had no idea how to register for classes successfully learn the online registration system: “That really made my day, more like made my week.”