Life as a Boston College student often entails more than balancing challenging classwork and a fulfilling social life. For many, just balancing those two is enough to make them want to cut back a little. But hundreds of students each year add another element to the mix: an on-campus job. Whether they’re working just to earn some extra spending money or to fulfill a work-study grant, these students manage to set aside about 10 hours per week to fill a variety of roles. From the dining halls to the labs, four student give an inside look at what it’s like to work on campus.
Although she’s only been working at Hillside since the beginning of this semester, Renee Bichette, A&S ’17, is already getting the hang of things at the ever-popular dining location and helping to make sure that even rush hour isn’t too stressful.
Heights: How long have you been an employee here at Hillside?
Bichette: Two weeks. I just started working here this semester.
Heights: How did you hear about this job and eventually get it?
Bichette: One of my [fencing] teammates works at Hillside, and I was really looking for an on-campus job for my work-study. She said she worked here for lunch and the beginning of dinner and was like, “It’s really not that bad.” I emailed the manager and he was like, “Yeah, we need people!” I didn’t want to work at the dining halls-there are so many people there! Hillside’s smaller so you really don’t have to deal with the rush and stuff.
Heights: What are your tasks here?
Bichette: I pretty much do anything they need me to do. I’m usually behind the sandwich line and then sometimes I work at the coffee bar.
Heights: What would you say, so far, is one of the most difficult things about adjusting to the job?
Bichette: The coffee bar is actually really hard to do! I worked at Dunkin’ Donuts over the summer, but it was basic lattes, cappuccinos, coffee, but here they have all these different drinks that I’ve never even heard of. Having to know the combination of drinks-and when you have 20 cups stacked up and you have to make all these drinks all at once, it’s really hard to manage. I’m like, “Oh no, there’s so many things I have to do!”
Heights: Is there anything particularly interesting about the job?
Bichette: I really like the people I work with because they’re all student employees. They’re not all my age, like some of them are grad students, but we all get along really well and it makes the job a lot more fun. I really like working here. There’s something else about Hillside that I really like, but I don’t know exactly what that is.
After a stint at BC’s cable TV services for the last few years, Katlyn Prentice, A&S ’14, has been putting her eventual film degree and experiences in the department’s undergraduate research program to work as a teaching assistant and mentor for this year’s Filmmaking 1 course.
Heights: How long have you been a TA?
Prentice: Officially, this year, but I also did an undergraduate research fellowship in the film department last year, so I kind of had TA responsibilities within that as well.
Heights: What are your tasks as a TA?
Prentice: We manage the equipment here, so if students need to check out equipment for their projects we check that out for them and make sure that they return that with proper wear and tear and with nothing missing. We also help students out with editing advice or filming advice. I’ll come to the end of classes and help the professor if necessary-basically anything the students need, we take care of so the professors don’t have to. A lot of these professors work at other universities and aren’t on campus much.
Heights: How did you find out about this job, and why did you pick it?
Prentice: The TAs are more or less selected to become a TA. Also having done the undergraduate research fellowship last year, I was really involved within the department itself. With that association and doing well in film classes, I became a TA.
Heights: What was this fellowship about? Was it more research- or project-based?
Prentice: It was with Professor Michalczyk, and basically I helped him work on his documentaries and do various film department tasks. I was camera operator on his most recent documentary and went into Boston to film some things.
Heights: What would you say is one of the most challenging things about your job?
Prentice: Usually trying to keep the students on track with getting their equipment in. Sometimes they’ll have it out for days and you’ll have to say, “Guys, you need to bring it in because a lot of other people need that.” You also get situations where they have an assignment due tomorrow and it’s the night before, and they say, “Hey, can you meet me at the film room to get some equipment?” But we have set hours for them to come in, so that’s probably the most challenging.
Heights: What’s something you find especially interesting about the job that you might not find in another on campus?
Prentice: I think it’s cool because you’re involved with their projects and you see what they’re working on, how they’re doing it. You can give them advice and sort of be a mentor for students that need help, because it can be really complicated.
Cristian Lopez, CSOM ’14, has hopped around from job to job throughout his time at BC. A little bit of luck and his characteristic willingness to strike up a conversation with just about anyone eventually landed him his most recent gig in the Student Services office.
Heights: How long have you been working in the Student Services office?
Lopez: Since September. I was lucky to get a job here as a senior-they usually hire lowerclassmen here.
Heights: Here at Student Services, you work in administration. What’s a usual day like?
Lopez: I basically consider myself the personal assistant of Jane McGuire, who oversees pretty much the scheduling for all of Student Services. Mostly, it’s stocking up the closets … and running errands, because Student Services sends a lot of inter-office deliveries. It’s really anything. We do a lot of lunches where Jane will pay for the office to have lunch, so I’ll help set up for the lunches. Normally she has a card so that when we don’t do lunch, the workers can have a free lunch in the Rat so I’ll be downstairs swiping for everybody. A lot of random tasks like that.
Heights: How did you get this job? It seems like one that not many people would know about.
Lopez: Luck, definitely! I came in here in September, and the position was posted because the person she’d had for the past four years was graduating in the fall. It so happened that when I went to apply, she was there, and she’s normally not because she’s always running around. So I got to talk to her in person. We just clicked, and I didn’t even know she was Jane McGuire! But she liked me and pretty much hired me on the spot. It was nice.
Heights: Is there anything that you find tricky about the job?
Lopez: I would say that because Jane is in a position where she interacts with a lot of people here, and a lot of them just come in and grab something, I have to know who is allowed to do that and pay attention to things like that.
Heights: What do you find most interesting about your job?
Lopez: My job is more project-based. Jane will give me something like early on in the semester where I had to do an Excel spreadsheet where I counted up all of the students in each major at Boston College to help her for a presentation. There’s no traditional day I would say. There’s no routine, which I like. Maybe some people wouldn’t.
Ryan Dikdan, A&S ’15, is one of many students who are already contributing to science by helping a biochem professor conduct research in one of BC’s many on-campus labs.
Heights: Which lab are you working in for this semester?
Dikdan: The Chatterjee lab. I’m working on a project about … in layman’s terms, we’re trying to make a special protein so that we can turn it on and off with UV light. The protein’s involved with cancer-once the protein activates, the cell will kill itself, so if the cell becomes cancerous it has a self-defense mechanism if we turn this protein on. If one cell gets cancer you’re fine, but if it metastasizes and gets bigger it’s a problem.
Heights: How long have you been working there?
Dikdan: Just a week.
Heights: How did you get this job?
Dikdan: To see whether or not I liked research I emailed Dr. Burgess and worked in his lab last semester, so I knew how to do it. All I did was email a bunch of bio professors and go, “Hey, can I work in your lab?” They pretty much just tell you if they have room or not. I saw a lecture by Dr. Chatterjee … on something I find very fascinating, protein engineering and incorporation of amino acids in the protein. So I emailed him and talked to him about working in his lab and doing a thesis next year. I kept bugging him about working there.
Heights: So this research might lead to a thesis?
Dikdan: I might get a paper published before that, which would be awesome. We’re working in a field that not too many people work in for some reason, although I think it has amazing potential.
Heights: How did your previous lab experience prepare you for this one?
Dikdan: All the basic techniques of biology are really similar. That’s the best part of working in a research lab. I took a bio lab course, but it’s different when you actually have a purpose and are working under a grad student.