The Best Way to Work on Campus

The best way to work on campus is to not work at all.

By that, I mean not having an on-campus job. Managing academics and maintaining a social life is much easier when one doesn’t also need to work in order to pay off tuition or living expenses. Although it may give you more work experience and more money in your wallet, it certainly takes up a lot of time and not all campus jobs are worth the effort you may put into them. In addition, the best jobs on campus–those that pay well and have good work conditions–are almost always hard-to-find or highly sought after by students. Ideally, if one could avoid it, the best situation is to not have to work during the academic semesters and to gain work experience and money over the academic breaks.

However, realistically, not everyone has the luxury to choose that option. Many of us have work-study requirements or piles of incoming bills that demand we get a job a.s.a.p. when coming to college. For those of us who must work, what then can we do? What are the best work opportunities that will generate the least stress for us? In short, what is the best way to work on campus?

As of now, I currently have three jobs with Cornell University:

  1. I work as a student blogger for their Life on the Hill blog series.
  2. I work behind the counters of the Ivy Room at Willard Straight Dining, preparing and serving food. And….
  3. I work as a tutor for elementary school students through the Public Services Center’s REACH program.

Working at the Ivy Room; Photo Credit to Tony Leong

It may seem like much, but I actually work relatively few hours for each of those positions and the hours are pretty flexible for most of my jobs. It was much harder my freshman year, when I had only one job but stricter hours and when I worked 4-5 shifts a week on average. However, having three jobs wasn’t something I had intended either. It was a product of a desperate search to find a job after being unable to return to my previous employer at the end of Fall semester, Sophomore year. The only way I could cover my work study allocation while also making up for the time I spent unemployed was to accept three job offers simultaneously and balance them against my academics.

Given my experience with locating work at Cornell, as well as the stories I have heard from my fellow classmates, I feel as if I can say I am very familiar with Cornell’s on-campus employment system. For those of you looking for work, here are some tips you should now:

  1. Check out Cornell’s student job databases for relevant postings. It was through databases and various advertising locations on campus that I found every single one of the jobs I have had over my last two years at Cornell.
  2. Look for a job early in the semester. The longer you wait, the smaller the chance you will have at snagging a decent job with hours that will fit your academic schedule.
  3. Ask students you know about where they have worked or recommend working. Students always have valuable insight on the different workplaces available on campus or, at the very least, they might point you in the direction of someone who could help. Another option is to go to different offices, libraries, and other facilities on campus to ask directly if they have openings.
  4. Once you have a job, if you want to quit, make sure you get a new job before leaving your old one. I was once told I would have a job ready for me only to find out that, once I had quit my other job, a position wasn’t actually available for me. It took me weeks to find new employment, and those weeks of no income really hurt me in the long-run.

Now, what is the best work to have on campus?

Well, I can’t say for sure, but I can tell you that for me the best  jobs I’ve had on campus were the ones that were the least advertised, like my blogging job and my job as a tutor. Those jobs took me a long time to find, but they are definitely the most rewarding overall. Both jobs allow for wonderful experiences interacting with people (adults and children, alike), pay relatively higher wages than my past jobs, are more flexible time-wise, and have the least stressful work conditions (I’m looking at you, Cornell dining jobs). Jobs that were the most common for students–working in libraries and dining halls–were the least rewarding in my experiences. I did get to meet a lot of interesting people through those types of jobs, but the poor hours, hard working conditions, ineffective management, and low wages didn’t make it worthwhile. I currently maintain a job at the Ivy Room because I have already developed an attachment to the people working there. However, between the Ivy Room and blogging–or between the Ivy Room and REACH–the latter options are definitely better for my current lifestyle as a student.

If you’re a student looking for the best work on campus, my best advice is to continue looking beyond the obvious choices of employment for those jobs which may prove more interesting for you personally or more suitable to your schedule as a student. You can take on a dining job or library job in the meantime to earn money, but I strongly urge you to continue looking for other employment even while you are working at those facilities. In summary, the best job on campus is the one that most students don’t even know exist. Find one of those jobs, and you’ll have a much easier time getting through your academic and work requirements; I guarantee it.

The Vagina Monologues

On Saturday, March 2nd, Cornell University welcomed the Vagina Monologues back to Bailey Hall for another wonderful night of laughs and emotional connection to women’s issues.

The Vagina Monologues is a collection of skits put together by the V-Day organization to tell the stories of various women challenged by their relationships with sex, the female body, and abuse. The stories range from being hilariously funny and ironic to being more somber and self-reflective. Many of the stories tackled difficult issues such as gender identity, discrimination of the LGBTQ community, rape, and female genital mutilation. All the pieces centered on women who  had confessed in interviews with the original author how these issues have emotionally or physically scarred them.

Cornell’s rendition of The Vagina Monologues featured a large cast of undergraduate female and (one) male performers. In their production, the directors covered the following skits:

  • Hair
  • The Wear and Say
  • The Flood
  • The Vagina Workshop
  • Vagina Happy Fact
  • Because He Liked To Look At It
  • Not-So-Happy Fact
  • My Angry Vagina
  • My Vagina Was My Village
  • The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could
  • They Beat the Girl out of My Boy…or So They Tried
  • Reclaiming Cunt
  • Six year-Old Girl
  • The Woman Who Liked to Make Vaginas Happy
  • I Was There in the Room
  • One Billion Rising

Since V-Day allows some leniency as to which of their many skits directors can choose to feature in their productions, this choice of skits greatly reflects the artistic taste and attention of the directors–Khamila Alebiosu and Hilary Orzick. Following another provision of the V-Day Organization, 90% of sales from Cornell’s production went to a charity to support abused women (The Advocacy Center in Ithaca) and 10% went to V-Day. Cornell’s production culminated a string of V-Day related events on campus, beginning with the One Billion Rising Dance Flash Mob on February 14th, 2013.

The show itself was very entertaining. It began with several more comedic skits before gradually becoming more serious in tone mid-way through the production, ending with a short video illustrating V-Day’s worldwide One Billion Rising movement. The audience was thoroughly engaged in the performance, laughing openly and shouting back at the stage when prompted to by the performers. At the end of the show, the performers and production team received a standing ovation by an audience that filled nearly every seat of the cavernous Bailey Hall. One brave soul walked on stage during the routine “thank you’s” and curtain calls to present a bouquet of flowers to his girlfriend for her performance.

I thoroughly enjoyed Cornells rendition of The Vagina Monologues this year, as I do nearly every year. Although the humor may be to risque for more conservative types, the issues each skit touches upon are very important and the performance always provides a highlight for any type of viewer. I strongly recommend that all Cornell students attend one of the annual productions of The Vagina Monologues at Bailey Hall in the future and, if you have a chance, try auditioning for a role or helping the production and technical staff at the end of your Fall semester.

Mikey Visits the Big Red Barn

Mikey Enjoys a Nice, Warm Fire at the Big Red Barn

Cornell University is famous for its multiple eateries across campus. With so many choices, it can be hard for new students to visit all of the dining halls and restaurants available to them, especially when convenience encourages students to visit the same locations over and over again. In an effort to properly paint social life at Cornell, Mikey and I will be travelling to some of our favorite locations to comment on their food options and to encourage you to branch out to new restaurant locations on campus.

Today’s post centers on one of our more frequent dining spots on Central Campus: The Big Red Barn.

Mikey Studies at the Big Red Barn

The Big Red Barn serves different pasta meals and sandwiches in addition to the traditional grab-and-go meals you can find at other Cornell eateries. Its dining area is much smaller than places like Trillium or larger dining halls, but it is usually easy to find a spare table outside of peak lunch hours (usually between 11am-1pm). It’s a cozier, more intimate atmosphere–a style not so easily found on Central Campus. The Big Red Barn also doubles as a great meeting location and study spot, especially if you can grab a sofa on its second floor.

So comfy.

One of its downsides is that it doesn’t serve dinner and closely its food stations relatively early in comparison to other dining locations on campus. If you want to eat there, I strongly recommend looking up its open hours on Cornell’s Dining website before heading over. You don’t want to go there on an empty stomach just to be disappointed. Believe me.

All we wanted were some chocolate bars….*sniffle*

The line can also be fairly long during rush hour and, since there is usually only one register open, you may wait a very long time to get your meal. At those times, you should grab a sandwich and drink from the cooler instead and skip right past the meal line straight to the register. Sure, the meal won’t be as great, but at least you won’t be late for class.

Silly Mikey.

When Mikey and I went, we spent several hours at the Big Red Barn studying for an upcoming exam. It was very cold outside, so Mikey naturally drifted towards the fireplace in the corner. Having missed the meal shifts, we settled on eating popcorn from the first-floor popcorn machine and tried very hard not to look at the beverage cooler situated all but 10 paces away from us. (Oh how it mocked us so…)

As we studied and occasionally distracted ourselves by swinging down the banister and playing hide-and-seek, Mikey and I caught the attention of several people who were there. The first people was a group of students who were meeting together at the Big Red Barn for a social gathering. The girls thought that Mikey was very cute and willingly posed for a photograph after hearing Mikey’s story.

Mikey Poses with Friends at the Big Red Barn

Another person we met was an older gentleman from Puerto Rico. He was very curious as to why I was taking pictures nonchalantly of a stuffed panda sitting on the couch on sliding down the banister, and when I told him about how I use Mikey (and Tobi) to keep in touch with my sister back home and to write for my blog he opened up about his own relationship with his teenage niece and how he wished he had done similar bonding activities with her when she was young. Now he worries that it may be too late to form that familial bond with her because she is so busy with all her own life now that she is headed for college. We had a very interesting conversation about how to best balance work and home life and how to best develop relationships with younger family members at different stages of their life, be they children or young adults. We also touched upon the role of language and age barriers in the separation of generations among immigrant families. A more detailed account of the discussion can be read here [insert link] and it illustrates some of the amazing conversations and experiences one can accidentally come across while travelling about Cornell.

Or you can just swing down banisters. Whatever suits your fancy.

In short, the Big Red Barn is a cozy place to eat and study that is conveniently located smack in the middle of Central Campus–right next to many of the academic buildings which many students call home. It hosts several night events throughout the semester, but it is most convenient for its cozy atmosphere during the day which greatly facilitates group conversation and studying. If nothing else, you should visit the Big Red Barn simply to slide down its banister when no one is looking or to play hide and seek with your favorite panda friend.

I see you, Mikey. 🙂