Biolans struggle to balance work and school

Campus jobs increase but so do students’ work loads.


Katie Juranek

Sarah Bermudes logs packages in the Biola Mailroom. Biola has approximately 2,500 on-campus student jobs. | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES

Patricia Diaz, Writer

Sarah Bermudes logs packages in the Biola Mailroom. Biola has approximately 2,500 on-campus student jobs. | Ashley Jones/THE CHIMES

With the state of California reporting the second highest unemployment rate in the nation this past month, a concern for work and money continues to be evident on campus as students settle into new and old jobs around Biola for the fall semester.

“We have about 2,500 jobs total across campus,” said Jennifer Yang, student employment coordinator with Human Resources. “Some people have multiple jobs, so that doesn’t mean that there are 2,500 workers, but there are that many jobs.”

Campus jobs are highly competitive

Student workers populate departments across campus in positions ranging from office receptionists to gatehouse attendants to cafeteria servers. Some jobs begin in the summer and continue into the fall, Yang said, including positions in Facilities Services, which is employing 93 student workers this semester, according to department statistics.

Due to an unexpectedly large graduating class this last year, the library hired 33 new student workers, almost half of the 65 total the department employs. Library office manager Kim Knight said this was very unusual, as the department typically hires only around 12 new students each semester.

“Jobs in the library are highly competitive,” Knight said.

For the 24 positions open in the circulation department alone, more than 200 applications were submitted and 100 students were interviewed.

Job options increase for students

Campus Safety also expanded, adding a few new shifts with the change to the gatehouse hours this semester, according to Justin Shelby, administrative operations manager. The department employs between 40 and 50 students each semester, Shelby said, with about one quarter of those graduating each year.

But Biola’s dining contractor, Bon Appétit, once again hired the most student workers, employing 175 students this semester, according to general manager Steve Rall.

“We’re the largest student employer on campus,” Rall said, noting Bon Appétit’s various campus locations including the Caf, Eagle’s Nest, Common Grounds, the Talon and the coffee cart in front of Sutherland, as well as catering services for Biola events.

“The economy is a driving force,” Rall said. “We don’t have to go out and twist arms to get people to come work for us.”

California’s unemployment rate was 12 percent in August, compared to the national average of 9.1 percent.

Students manage multiple jobs

“I haven’t had one job in the past five years, I’ve always had two or more,” said junior biblical studies major Justin Davie,t mentioning stints at Babies “R” Us, a local movie theater and tutoring for autistic students.

Davie actually left a full-time, paid ministry position to enroll in college, becoming the first person in his entire family to go on to secondary education. He began his first semester at Biola as a transfer “about five weeks ago,” he said, glancing at the date on his watch to make sure.

“I realized that getting my education is the best way I can serve my family,” Davie said.

But it hasn’t been an easy journey to support his wife and two month old son. Davie works 20 hours a week at the Duplicating Center on campus, and waits tables another 20 hours at Carino’s Italian restaurant on top of his 15-unit class load.

Davie is perhaps an unusual example, however, of the typical working Biola student. Rall said most students don’t want to work more than 12 to 15 hours a week.

“It’s not that they don’t have more time to work, but it cuts into their social time,” he said.

Junior psychology major Emma Santi is willing to work extra shifts at the Caf to help finance the cost of living off-campus this semester. Santi is working 25 hours at the Caf each week, in addition to her classes.

“It’s actually not as tiring as I thought it would be to work that much and do my 17 units of class, the only thing that is difficult is getting all my homework done,” Santi said.

Even though food service does not align with her major or career goals, Santi said she is not too worried at this point.

“I would love to have an internship or something, but for now this is a job that is paying the bills,” she said.

Trying to be marketable

But some students are prioritizing career preparation even during their time in school. Sophomore film major Paul Slemmer has worked at Veracity Colab, a small video production agency in Aliso Viejo, as an independent contractor for a little over a year.

“I probably couldn’t be going to school if I weren’t working there,” he said.

But it’s not easy having one foot in the professional world and one in the academic.

“I have 18 hours of work and 16 units of classes, and I commute down there three days a week,” Slemmer said. “It’s hard because it means I have a lot of different places to call home.”

But the four and a half hours of commute time each week is worth it, Slemmer said, because he has found the career he wants to be in.

“It’s exactly what I want to be doing with my life,” he said, noting that he will most likely seek a full-time position with the company after graduation.

“Recruiters expect it,” said Career Development director Jeanie Jang about off-campus work experience. With the economy down, Jang said competition for jobs is stiffer, and students must do everything they can to be marketable.

“Most companies want to see that you’ve done stuff outside campus,” she said.

Website aides Biolans

The Biola Link portion of the Career Development website gives students a place to start looking for positions off campus. The website averages 500 jobs and internships posted at any given time, updated daily by almost 1,000 employers from Apple to non-profit organizations to local families looking for tutors or babysitters.

Persistence is key, said Career Development administrator Lisa Igram.

“Know you may have to apply to 20 positions to land one, and that any position you land can be a learning experience and stepping-stone towards your future career,” she said.

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