Editor’s note: This article was initially published in The Daily Gazette, Swarthmore’s online, daily newspaper founded in Fall 1996. As of Fall 2018, the DG has merged with The Phoenix. See the about page to read more about the DG.
Since the beginning of this academic year, Swarthmore’s Dining Services has hired four Swatties to work in Sharples and Tarble. While there is no formal policy on hiring students for these dining locations, individual students have approached Linda McDougall, the Dining Services Director, about their interest, and Linda has evaluated their applications on a case-by-case basis.
In the Tri-Consortium community, there is a history of employing students in dining services. In Haverford, there are approximately thirty students working in the Dining Center and five students in the bakery. According to John Francone, the director of Dining Services at Haverford, “We have been recruiting students to work in Dining Services for the past 16 years … here at Haverford, students choose to work in Dining Services.”
Compared to Haverford and Swarthmore, Bryn Mawr has a more official policy with hiring students in their dining services. All freshmen under the workstudy program are required to work for Dining Services. David Chase, the associate director of Dining Services, elaborates, “As far as total student workers, we employ between 275-285 between all of our locations (Dining Halls, Uncommon Grounds Cafe, Lusty Cup & Wyndham). As for full time employees, we employ 40 between all locations.”
At Swarthmore, besides the contemporarily new phenomenon of students working in Sharples and Tarble, McDougall explains that Dining Services’ budget pays for positions such as the Mary Lyons Breakfast Room Cook, Compost Assistant, and Catering Prep Assistant.
As for the work that these newly hired Swatties have done in Sharples, their job descriptions largely vary based on the students’ interests and schedules. Soomin Kim ’13 contacted the Tarble manager, Gusti Ruhri, about working and although Ruhri has not hired students at the snack or coffee bars for several years, Ruhri was persuaded by Kim’s previous experience at Starbucks. Kim started working at Tarble last fall semester, but now currently works at the Kohlberg Coffee Bar.
Julie Spielvogel ’12 emailed McDougall over winter break to get her position working in Sharples. “I asked if there were any job openings in the kitchen, because I am really interested in cooking and in learning how a large scale kitchen operates,” she said. While there were no formal job openings, “I would like to talk to any students who may be interested in working with us. We can always use students for catering jobs,” McDougall said.
Now, Spielvogel works five to six hours per week at the same pay as an ML breakfast cook. “I work on Sundays at the grill with Adele making Phoenix sandwiches and omelets and one other day a week in the kitchen helping the cooks prep for dinner,” she said.
Working in Dining Services has helped Spielvogel gain insight on commercial kitchens and working in a positive atmosphere. Spielvogel elaborates, “I really love working at Sharples. It’s just generally a nice atmosphere. The staff really cares about their work and everyone is incredibly friendly and patient towards” She also enjoys the busy atmosphere of the kitchen. She said, “I love the coordination and the complexity of the kitchen. There are so many people working and so many things going on at once.”
McDougall explains, “I think it is very important to form relationships between staff and students and working side by side facilitates relationships. I also think that having students working in the kitchen takes some of the mystery out of what happens in the kitchen. I think if you work here, you will have a true respect of how much work and manpower it takes to feed the Swatties.”