When you enter college, you never truly understand how broke you’re going to be. Even if your parents shell out buckets of money, you still end up broke. Hence, you get a job. However, I can attest that a job gives you so much more than money in college.
To begin, let me describe how the University of California, Los Angeles works in terms of jobs. A company called ASUCLA offers jobs to students on campus in a variety of different fields, including food servers, libraries helpers, office assistants, etc.
I didn’t know about this helpful thing when I first started applying to jobs. I started my search in the little area that UCLA sits in: Westwood. Think of it as the location for people who can’t afford Beverley Hills. It’s pretty damn expensive. Luckily, however, there are a TON of shops.
The unfortunate thing for me was that I had no experience in any job besides babysitting, tutoring, camp counseling and other small things like that. I didn’t speak the Swiss German dialect while I lived in Switzerland (my sophomore to senior years of high school), so I never got the chance to get a “real” job.
It’s a vicious cycle. You need experience to get experience.
However, somehow I got hired, and at the best possible place. I got hired to work at the movie theater in Westwood, Regency Theatres.
Regency Theatres is two 1930s theaters that sit across from each other. One seats around 1300 people and other about 700. They only have one screen.
The theaters are absolutely beautiful: grand, elegant and wonderful to sit in. Some people have worked there for decades, while some of us pass in and out. The theater and its employees are full of history and stories. Luckily, you often get the chance to get to hear them.
This job also gave me the chance to work not only with people outside of UCLA, but also people in different stages of life. I got to step out of my = UCLA bubble and enter the real world.
I now consider many of those employees my friends, be they my 60-year old supervisor who loved movies or my coworker from California State University Long Beach who was really good at laughing at me whenever I made a mistake.
That’s the other thing—free movies are pretty damn great. As someone who entered college as both a cinephile and a budding writer, I loved being surrounded by movies and people that loved to discuss and critique movies.
I also got to work movie premieres. It’s definitely not half bad to get to talk to Jeff Bridges and Will Smith, albeit even about popcorn and drinks, and see Jodie Foster, the entire cast of Stranger Things and Snoop Dogg stroll right in front of you.
Regency taught me how to be myself, even in a professional atmosphere. It taught me how to be incredibly fast and efficient at work, and how to help people who needed it, personally and professionally. It taught me more things than I can possibly list, and it was probably of the biggest things that changed me in my freshman year.
And I learned all this because I needed money.
Now I work at the biggest coffeehouse on UCLA’s campus, Kerckhoff Coffee House, and am an employee of ASUCLA. I’m a bit sad I didn’t take advantage of them before now. Not only can I work in between classes, but the walk to work is about half as long as before. They also understand that when I have a school break, I can’t work, because I’m not going to be here.
Working on campus, you don’t see people outside of UCLA workers and students. But that’s also a great thing. People understand more of what you’re going through – school struggles, midterm issues, leaving school for weekends to go on trips. It’s easier to help each other if you all understand what each person is doing.
Bonds made at work carry on outside of work. It’s harder to see and spend time with coworkers if they live in downtown L.A. But if they live two minutes away from campus, it’s almost too easy.
Regardless of the job you get in college, it teaches you how to start being financially independent, learn professional skills and take orders (at ASUCLA, even from students that are younger than you). It teaches you skills that aren’t learned from an internship and will benefit your career. It’s a way to step away and escape from the stress of all of that and master a skill that you may not ever need again, but that you still have. For me, I know how to make some damn good cappuccino foam.
You learn from the bottom and you grow as you transition through each year of college. You feel the independence of making and spending your own money, and often make friends, maybe even for life. You can step away from everything else and just concentrate on simple tasks like cleaning or serving customers and forget about the stress of the rest of your life.
You get to learn new skills, build ones you can use for a job (like leadership or delegation), and you build your confidence.
I honestly don’t see any reason why you wouldn’t need a job. Who doesn’t want to keep busy?
Catch me at Kerckhoff Coffee House 17 hours a week this quarter, and enjoying every minute of it.