From Urban Eatery shifts to classroom victories: inside the lives of graduate students balancing work and study | The Triangle

From Urban Eatery shifts to classroom victories: inside the lives of graduate students balancing work and study

Photo by Dylan Elwell | The Triangle

If you walk into Urban Eatery on a casual Wednesday evening, you would be appalled at the plethora of graduate students working behind the counters. A typical view this is, if you ask any of the freshmen who come to the dining hall daily. This was a common sight from the first week of my freshman year. Transporting and delivering food to different stations, refilling coffee and hot water, cleaning up food service areas­­­ were all tasks I saw these students doing during their shifts. Slowly, as time went by, smiles were exchanged and I befriended a few of them.

I interviewed a couple of grad students who work at Urban Eatery to hear about their experiences. From what I had always seen, grad student employees stood tall and poised, ready to tend to customers in proper fashion. These 20-something-year-olds work for about 16-20 hours for minimum wage throughout the week to earn extra funds. Their shifts are generally of long durations which vary between four hours, six hours or sometimes even more. Usually, if they work more than five hours at a stretch, they are allowed to take a break of half an hour at the max.

But what is the reason that all these grad student workers strive to get this job? In the exact words my interviewee mentioned, the money they earn at this tedious job is “just enough to make ends meet.” They work hard at the dining hall to afford their rent, food and other miscellaneous expenses. Although their wages do not cover tuition fees, they are grateful to have an on-campus job and have their living expenses almost fully funded. A question that came to my mind while asking them about their work duties was, “How do you manage your studies after working strenuously at this job?” One can only imagine how exhausted these students must feel balancing an on-campus job and full-time school. To my surprise, they revealed that it was not that big of a deal. By effectively implementing time management skills, they gave equal time and effort to both their job and academics. Keep in mind, both of them were sporting a solid 3.9 GPA.

Other than their job and studies, they also had other hobbies such as sports and hanging out with their friends and in many ways, embracing their social life. I  think it is wonderful to see  students who are very hardworking and determined in life. Being an international student at Drexel University, it is amazing to look up to these individuals and see how they strive to get ahead. They set a good example that with effort and determination, we can make the best out of our situations and succeed.