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Get to Work!

Written by Gabrielle Montanez '08

Jessica Spinella works as a prep lab assistant for her campus job.

Freshmen may be the lifeblood of dining hall staffs, but students with a keen eye and a flexible schedule will find that Ithaca holds many employment secrets -- from jobs that are a breath of fresh air and completely different from what you do in school, to jobs that will help prepare you for your future career. Think you’re too cool to wear a hairnet? Here are just a few of the fun, offbeat, and educational jobs you’ll find on campus -- if you know where to look!

Weird Science

When it’s time to play with chemicals, electrodes, and preserved organs in class, someone needs to get there first to make sure all the materials are properly set up and the space is clean, right? You’d better believe it. Jessica Spinella ’08, a biochemistry major, has been working as a lab assistant for the past five semesters. “I think it’s one of the better jobs on campus,” she says. “You have a good opportunity to build your résumé. You get behind the scenes of education here.”

The departments in the Center for Natural Sciences depend on lab assistants to set up experiments before class, clean up after class, assist with inventory, and provide laboratory maintenance. “We do a lot of fetal pigs, sheep brains, and hearts [in the biology labs],” Spinella says. “The work definitely helps take away your phobias for that sort of thing!”

And if you’re not scientifically inclined, never fear. Though some experience is necessary, lab assistants are not required to be majors in the sciences. “The job appeals to neatniks,” explains Philip Coleman, laboratory coordinator for the Department of Chemistry, “as well as those who don’t mind strapping on earbuds, cleaning glassware, and building strange chemical cocktails for our teaching labs.” 

Weighting Around

From lifeguards to athletics events staff to desk jockeys, the Fitness Center is full of positions open to students with special certification, like CPR training. As a weight room supervisor during her freshman year, Jakki Kelley ’08, a writing and Spanish double major, learned to think quickly on her feet about sports. In addition to checking IDs, handing out towels, and maintaining the safety of the weight room, she had the opportunity to serve as a timer and scorekeeper during athletic events.

Recalling the first time she kept score for a wrestling match, Kelley wrinkles her nose. “It was kind of gross. I’d never watched wrestling before, so I had no idea what to expect.” Although she’s since moved on, the experience was a refreshing break from her usual routine that she will always appreciate.

Night Watch

The Student Auxiliary Safety Patrol (SASP) is concerned with campus safety. SASP officers spend long nights walking the grounds, making sure everything is running as it should. “Like any other job,” writing major Liz Muse ’08 explains, “it can get repetitive, especially on slower nights.”

Muse has been with SASP since spring 2005, and she enjoys the camaraderie. “You’re always working with [a partner] for up to six hours at a time, so you become very close to people. That makes the job go faster and makes it more fun.” SASP even offers pay raises and opportunities for promotion -- the SASP executive board is composed entirely of students chosen by the previous board and the heads of the Office of Public Safety.

Camera Jocks

Kellie Hoverter ’08 knew that if she didn’t find a job by the summer of 2004, student employment would place her in the dining hall, where she had little desire to work. So Hoverter used some of her connections in the athletic department to land a job videotaping women’s field hockey home games that fall. Despite her fear of heights, Hoverter, a communication management and design major, filmed the games from a press box perched high above the field.

Hoverter knows firsthand that the connections she’s made in various departments over the years will help her find the job she’s looking for after graduation. “I tried to establish a network of connections that could help me find a job while in college, and it taught me how important it is to know people in your chosen field,” Hoverter says.

The Write Stuff

In the Ithaca College Writing Center, any student can revise and edit papers with a trained peer-to-peer tutor. “I would do it without being paid,” says student staffer Evan Perriello ’08, a writing and English double major, “but I like that I do make money.” Tutor positions are open to all majors and available to freshmen in their second semester.

“I really like working here,” says Jade Zora Ballard ’08, an English major who has worked at the center for the past four semesters. “It helps me become a better writer myself.” The Department of Writing also employs writing and technology consultants, who assist professors in freshmen writing courses and work intensively with students during the semester on developing successful writing skills.

Working on campus is a part of many students’ college experience, and the jobs mentioned here are by no means an exhaustive list. Great jobs won’t fall into your lap, however. The best way to land one is to use your most valuable resource: yourself.

Work your connections, keep your eyes peeled for advertisements, and ask around. A fun job, and great résumé builder, is waiting for you somewhere.



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