Volunteer student cashiers adjust to unfamiliar work in cafeteria

October 12, 2017 — by Howard Tang

Students take up shifts in the cafeteria to increase volunteer commitments and social connections.

Freshman Cameron King works for a free lunch.

King is one of five students who are working as cashiers in the cafeteria, receiving a free lunch on the days they work. He learned about the opportunity from his sister, class of 2017 alumna Cassandra, who also worked in the cafeteria.

“She recommended to me that I should do this because I could get free lunch, and it was a great way to pass time,” King said.

King signed up to work in the cafeteria on Tuesdays and Thursdays. On his first day, the first Tuesday of the year, he worked alongside cafeteria manager Pam Carlino, who showed him how to work the cashier stand, memorize food prices and have good etiquette.

Now, after being more comfortable with directing the line of lunch traffic and having more experience, King said he is grateful that he followed his sister’s advice.

One benefit of taking the advice was that it allowed him to see the people he knows or hasn’t seen in awhile while also meeting new people whom he sees regularly while working.

Sophomore Alex Pan, who learned about the job after talking with 2017 alumna Sarah Jin, has also enjoyed his brief time there.

“Working in the cafeteria is fun because I get to interact with the students,” Pan said. “The lunch line helped me meet a lot more people and make new friends.”

Along with interacting with more students, the job has also helped the student volunteers get to know the cafeteria staff.

Carlino said the four students helpers who graduated last spring had become “like family.”

Because the cafeteria doesn’t have the budget to hire as many paid employees as Carlino would like, they have been trying to recruit more student volunteers. Besides King, sophomore Alvin Liu, freshman Hermione Bosselina and freshman Shannon Ji are also picking up shifts.

“We like to recruit them through our current student employees,” Carlino said. “Cassie King was recommended by Andy Fang, who graduated four years ago. Now Cassie has graduated and recruited her brother.”

In addition to increasing social connections, working in the cafeteria enhances their college applications to see that they’ve volunteered for years in the cafeteria, Carlino said.

Class of 2015 alumna Jade Bisht said the job is far from easy, though.

“The occasional student who remarked that I should ‘hurry up!’ further increased my exploding levels of stress,” Bisht said.

For King, however, a free lunch compensates for some of the inconveniences that come with the job.

His advice: “Do everything you do with passion and don’t be afraid to embarrass yourself by working or not getting to hang out with your friends.”