Typically, GW students spend time together during class, in their rooms and at parties. But many are surrounded by familiar GW faces off campus everyday – at work.
Many students said working with people who not only share their age, but also their school has been a great experience because it gives the workplace a friendlier and more comfortable atmosphere.
“Working with fellow students is great,” said senior Dennis Suh, manager of Kinkead’s Restaurant in 2000 Penn. “It’s like working with friends. They provide a fresh and exciting atmosphere to the restaurant.”
Students said working with other students allows them to get to know each other in a context separate from the classroom.
“The way people act in class and the way they act at work is usually very different,” said Junior Katrina Cason, who also works at Kinkead’s.
“I’ve gotten to know the students I work with in a very different way than I would’ve by just being in class with them,” Cason said.
Cason’s sister, Amelia, another Kinkead’s employee, agreed.
“I feel like I’ve even gotten to know my sister in a way that I wouldn’t have if I didn’t work with her,” Cason said. “After working with her, I realize how similarly we do things. People are always mistaking us for each other.”
GW students who have co-workers from other universities said their school is an important unifying factor.
“There was one point when the company had a lot of students working with them and I definitely felt some sort of connection with the students I worked with that went to GW,” said Neil Gauthier, a senior who works for MapMuse, an internet start-up.
Gauthier said there is something to be learned from your classmates by being with them in a different environment regardless of whether or not you socialize with them.
Students who work together said they relate to each other better than other co-workers.
Suh recalled an instance in which a new worker at Kinkead’s did not know he was a student until running into him on campus. He found that the next time she came to work, they were more friendly and open with each other.
“Students are so much easier to work with for me personally because they are closer to my age,” Suh said. “I never have a problem managing students.”
Gauthier agreed that it is a comfort to have people that are his own age at work.
“Being in college, I definitely feel more comfortable working with people my own age than working with `real adults’,” Gauthier said.
Amelia Cason, one of the sisters who works at Kinkead’s, said there is a big difference between working with people her age and older employees.
“There’s a big difference between working to gain some extra money and working to feed a family,” Cason said. “So the way people of different ages interact at work is obviously different.”
Suh said he realizes people working for a living have a lot more pressure on them to perform well.
Students have also found it to be beneficial to be working with other students because they have an easier time scheduling shifts and finding a sympathetic ear to time conflicts.
“It’s good to be able to have people who are willing to switch shifts with you if you are overwhelmed with school work,” Katrina Cason said. “Working with people who are in the same situation as I am has definitely been a help in scheduling.”
Kristin Wardell, a junior who also worked at MapMuse, said having someone her age who understood the pressures of balancing school and work helped.
“If I was up late the night before work and came in totally exhausted, it was always comforting to know that I’d be going somewhere that there were other people who could understand and share my experience,” Wardell said.
Although students generally enjoy working with each other, some students do see some negative aspects of it as well.
“One problem with working with other students is that if another student comes late or messes up on the job, people automatically assume that just because you are a student, you will do the same,” Amelia Cason said.
Cason said that employers who hire many students should be aware students have busy schedules and should do their best to accommodate them.
“We pay more than $30,000 a year to go to school, so that does have to be our first priority,” Cason said. “Since students are willing to work for less, they should also be given some consideration in the making of their schedules.”