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Bruins in Paris

ASUCLA student workers appreciate benefits of on-campus jobs, gain personal growth

Employees work behind the counter at Kerckhoff Coffeehouse. (Zimo Li/Photo editor)

By Lilly Wellons

June 10, 2024 12:17 a.m.

From Ackerman Union to Anderson Café, more than 1,400 ASUCLA student employees have kept Bruins’ favorite restaurants, retail locations and student organizations running for more than 100 years.

ASUCLA students work across campus as customer service representatives, baristas, assistants and more. The organization provides incentives for student workers such as employee discounts, discount vouchers for food and potential to be awarded bonuses, according to ASUCLA.

Some ASUCLA employees said they were drawn to their jobs because of adjustable scheduling and the convenience of having a job located on campus, making them more compatible for college life.

Kabir Sihota, a first-year business economics student who works at the UCLA Store, said he has enjoyed the flexibility his job provides, adding that he is able to create his schedule weekly to accommodate shifts in homework and class assignments. His management has also been understanding of his need for flexibility as a college student, he said.

“I’ve never had a problem balancing all three of social, work and school life,” Sihota said. “If there was ever a time where work conflicted with a class, … they (management) are very easy on switching shifts or coming up with a solution.”

He added that he plans to continue his job at the UCLA Store next year because an off-campus job would not adequately prioritize his needs as a student.

Mercedes Schmits-Salazar a first-year political science student, said she initially struggled to balance school and working at Greenhouse – a restaurant in Ackerman Union – fall quarter.

She added that in previous jobs, she felt obligated to work more hours and meet certain expectations, so she overexerted herself when she began her job with ASUCLA. However, Schmits-Salazar said she found that ASUCLA management was far more understanding of her capacities.

“Coming to college, I had to prioritize my school life more,” Schmits-Salazar said. “During winter and spring quarter, I communicated with my boss, and he was really understanding – so I limited my hours … to my liking.”

Vicky Vu, a first-year aerospace engineering student, said getting a job while being a student was necessary to cover her expensive out-of-state tuition. However, Vu added that, as a customer service representative at ScrubJay Café in the Vatche and Tamar Manoukian Medical Building, she often had to deal with disrespectful customers, which has made the job experience less pleasant.

A typical day on the job mostly consists of taking customers’ orders, working the register and making drinks, Vu said. Some shifts are more demanding than others – such as the opening and closing shifts, she added.

“I don’t really have any bad experience with UCLA or the job itself. The only issues are customers,” Vu said.

Megan Barfian, a second-year student and supervisor at Northern Lights Café, an ASUCLA restaurant, said her job has helped her engage with the UCLA community.

When she first started at Northern Lights, Barfian said she treated it as any normal job, but gradually found herself wanting to become more involved with working in the kitchen and making specials. She added that she was surprised how invested she became in the cafe’s success and is working on ways to help improve it.

Barfian also said she enjoys the connections she has made working with other students and customers, along with the personal improvement she has experienced.

“There’s also a lot of room to grow and learn a lot of new things,” she said.

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