Commentary: Seven reasons to work at your college dining hall

The dining hall is the quintessential college experience. Half the time you’re complaining about that quality of what’s on your plate, and half the time you’re lamenting you’ve picked up the Freshmen 15. The first year or two of school are hard enough while adjusting to the new lifestyle without jumping into a college job. Why do it?

Here are 10 reasons to sign up for some shifts at the local dining hall while you’re an undergrad.

  1. Free/cheap food: Dining halls commonly offer workers food at reduced prices. Once you’ve moved out of the dorms, food will easily be one of your biggest expenses. Believe me, it helps. Everything tastes better when it’s half price, right?  You’ll quickly find the only food better than a home cooked meal is a meal from the dining hall that somehow fell into your backpack as soon as your shift ended.  Somehow.
  2. Friends: The social benefits of a college job with college kids are usually the biggest draw. You have a lot in common with one another, and people are pretty laid back, knowing their priorities lie elsewhere. Working with a bunch of people your age is way better when no one takes the work too seriously.
  3. Beer money: Yeah, I know it’s why you really need cash. Minimum wage here in Ohio is currently $7.70 an hour. Or, in college language, minimum wage in Ohio is 15 cans of Natti Light an hour.
  4. Compatible scheduling: Do you know another job that will let you take off work to go home on weekends, summers, and a variable winter break?
  5. (Mental) relaxation: College is hard on the brain. Regardless of major, the studying/researching/writing papers is a daunting task, and the extracirriculars you take on to boost your resume often involve yet more studying/researching/writing. I found working at a dining hall unbelievably relaxing on the mind; working with your hands and giving your brain a rest is much under-appreciated.
  6. Do you know how to cook? At a dining hall, you can learn about cooking without burning your own food – you can learn about cooking and burn other people’s food.
  7. Perspective. We as college kids had a rocky relationship with the locals. Getting to know some of the older employees of the university really does help you see things from another viewpoint. More importantly, the cooks and custodians are some of the friendliest people you’ll meet. And they’ll genuinely look out for you.

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