If you think back, way back, to the day you received your packet of information about student jobs, along with the slew of other pamphlets Harvard mails to entering students, you might recall a small card describing the job placement program for first-years. The program offers three choices: find your own job, work dorm crew or join the ranks working in campus dining halls.

Many students check the box for dining hall jobs, but only a handful actually end up serving food and washing dishes for other undergraduates.

Jeremy H. Burton '00 was one of the select few to show an interest in dining services, start work in the fall and stay in the kitchen. He spent his first year on dish duty, the buffet line and working the grille in Annenberg.

When Burton shed his first-year status, though, he also left his dining hall job behind. He is now employed as an office assistant in the department of physical resources. According to Burton, of the nearly 10 students who began the year with him in Annenberg only about four were left by year's end.

"It's not very glamorous," Burton says. "I don't want to be an elitist but that's what it boils down to."


Noel Rodriguez '99 had a similar experience. Rodriguez also worked first yeardining when she arrived on campus, first in the old Union and then in Annenberg, but has held a desk job in the Dunster House library since sophomore year.

Rodriguez cites the behavior of fellow students as a major deterrent to dining hall employment.

"The things that irritated me are probably not found as much in the upperclass dining halls," she admits. First-years, however, were prone to "stupid immature things like not bussing your own plate," Rodriguez says. "We would find cake in the napkin dispensers."

Considering the wealth of employment opportunities available on and off campus to students and the number of students who decide not to work for Dining Services (HDS) when they find out about these opportunities, it seems curious that the mailing to entering first-years specifically lists HDS. Martha H. Homer, director of student employment, stresses that the card does not claim that positions at HDS and Dorm Crew are the only jobs immediately available to arriving students.

"Admitted students get so much information that they probably don't read the booklet that the card is in," Homer says.

She maintains that the job placement program for first-years simply provides an easy way to match students in need of a job with two College agencies regularly seeking student labor.

"Some students get worried and feel better if they have a job lined up in advance," Homer says. "We just provide the program because it's a little bit of a hassle to get a job for yourself."

Behind the Scenes

In the recent past, although the numbers may drop from fall to spring, undergraduate dining halls report a steady group of student employees. Because payroll is computed by student work hours and not by the number of students paid, payroll officials cannot verify the actual number of employees but reports from dining hall managers indicate that about 20 students are currently at work in the dining halls.

Emily Buck '02, who works three hours a week in Adams House dining hall (alternating between washing dishes, doing laundry and serving food) says the job has definite perks.

"My friends are jealous that I get to eat in Adams," she says.

Carla M. Ceruzzi '02, who also works in Adams, says she has not been turned off yet, and the hours are appealing.

"I like the people I work with, and the hours are at a convenient time. They're easy to fit into my schedule." Ceruzzi, a resident of Mathews Hall, also mentions the convenience of Adams' location.

After a year of washing dishes in Dunster dining hall, Nickolay T. Boyadjiev '01 is still content. Boyadjiev, who is also a Crimson editor, says he originally took the job out of necessity, but has discovered worthwhile benefits.

"The main consideration was money," Boyadjiev says of his initial motives. "I was a foreign student so I wasn't sure how to write a resume or how to behave during job interviews." He applied and interviewed unsuccessfully for a few office jobs before calling HDS.

Now, Boyadjiev says he is paid nearly $10 an hour, substantially higher than most student jobs. What's more, he enjoys the capitalist ethos.

"I come from a post-Communist country and this idea of getting paid by the hour is not a common practice there," says Boyadjiev. "[My job in Dunster] teaches me work ethic if nothing else."

Boyadjiev also notices how different employees relate to each other and how the managers deal with problems that arise, work relations that amount to practical skills in light of his plans for a career in business.

For the most part, says Boyadjiev, the work settles into a nice routine.

"It's just sort of low-key," he says. "Most of the staff have worked there for five to 10 years. It becomes the same thing over and over."

Except, of course, when things go wrong.

"Once I got locked in the freezer and had to knock and scream until someone came to let me out," Boyadjiev says.

A Step Up?

Jobs with HDS do not end with dishwashing and serving in dining halls.

Alexandra E. McNitt, project manager for Dining Services, notes that in addition to dishwashing, serving, bussing and laundry jobs, HDS employs students as short-order cooks, cashiers, juicers and espresso barristas at campus restaurants. Students also work as door monitors at Annenberg and as deliverers of HUGS, Dining Services' care packages.

Both McNitt and Director of Dining Services Ted Mayer says HDS is a dynamic workplace for students. McNitt cites innovations like the new Gaya juice bar in Loker Commons, fly-by lunches and the Visiting Chefs series. She notes that these changes were due in large part to student input and that the role of HDS student employees is key.

"Having students work for us helps us respond to student needs," she says.

Students in these divisions tend to see their jobs as just a little bit more desirable than dining hall jobs.

"I get paid a lot of money to sit at a register and I can usually find 12 hours a week I'd just waste anyway," says Gabe Sheets-Poling '01, a cashier at the Science Center's Greenhouse restau- rant since last winter.

"I had heard from an upperclassman that workingin the dining halls wasn't very good," saysDanielle M. Romain '00, who is working a thirdyear at the Greenhouse. "The Science Center is acentral place, a good place to meet up withfriends and with people not from [the College]."

Sheets-Poling also mentions getting out of thedining hall as a plus.

"I get pizza as opposed to General Wong'schicken," he says.

Students say mixing with the general publicmakes these jobs appealing, more so than desk jobsin campus offices or libraries, and definitelymore varied than undergraduate dining halls. YayoiJ. Shionoiri '00 says her job at the Seattle'sBest coffee cart in the Science Center puts her inan even better position to meet people.

"Tour groups come in and ask me questions, butthey start to ask completely different questionswhen they find out I'm a student," Shionoiri says.

"I've even been approached by someone from theBoston Church of Christ," she says.

One food service job that does not fall underthe Dining Services umbrella is serving at theFaculty Club. Not technically part of the DiningServices system, the job does involve food servicebut students say the skills involved are moremarketable off campus.

Eliana P. Kaimowitz '01, who has waited tablesat the Faculty Club since last year, mentions manysimilar advantages to Dining Services, such asexposure to people other than College students andgood pay, but says there are also a few extras.

"I think working at the Faculty Club gives youdefinite waitressing skills. You can use these toget a better-paying job elsewhere," she says.

Kaimowitz also says she feels that coming intocontact with professors and other important dinersso often has helped her overcome a sense of aweand intimidation.

But Jim W. Garvin, customer service manager forDunster and Mather House dining halls, seesdefinite advantages to students working in thedining halls rather than in other food servicejobs.

"They can live and work in the same House," hesays. "It's very convenient because we're very,very flexible to them. If they have a test, wegive them the night off."

Sticking Around

With the recent changes to student financialaid awards, some students are quitting theirwork-study jobs. According to Homer, of thestudents affected by the new awards, half haveresponded so far and one-third of these have usedtheir awards to offset work-study expectationsrather than loans.

Yet Dining Services workers, it seems, are notamong this one-third.

Buck, Romain and Sheets-Poling--all of whom arework-study--say they used the awards to reducetheir loans. In fact, none of the studentsinterviewed planned to quit their jobs in the wakeof financial aid changes.

Several students mentioned other concerns,however, as reasons to move on.

"If I found something more related to a careerI'm interested in, that would convince me toswitch [jobs]," Ceruzzi says. Boyadjiev saysincreased pressure from his extracurricularactivities has led him to consider quitting.

Homer notes that even if some students usenewly allocated funds to replace work-studyearnings, those federal funds will be freed up forother students not previously eligible for thework-study program. The process thus maintains thesame amount of overall work-study funds available.

According to Peter J. Atkinson, manager ofAdams House dining hall, even if all studentsworking in the dining halls were to quit, theeffects would be minimal.

"We have six student labor hours per week inthis dining hall, compared with about 1,000 totallabor hours here per week," he says.

Mayer says Dining Services is amenable tostudents, work-study or not, who want to stopworking in the wake of financial aid changes.

"We have no difficulty with that decision,"says Mayer of students who substitute the newaward for work-study wages. "People go to schoolhere to get an education. As a father, I can tellyou that I wish my daughter's school would dosomething like that."

McNitt stresses that this does not mean DiningServices doesn't need or want student employees.

"We want student input," she says. "Any studentwho wants a job with Dining Services candefinitely get one.