Through the Federal Work-Study Program — an initiative aimed at assisting students with the cost of their post-secondary education — Boston University employs over 2,500 student workers each semester, according to the Student Employment Office website.
As one of them, my freshman year at BU meant the start of not only new classes but also my biweekly shifts at an on-campus Starbucks.
I walked into my first shift with no idea what to expect. Though, to be considered for Work-Study you must demonstrate financial need, so I at least knew my coworkers and I already had one thing in common.
It goes without saying that having a job on campus is more than convenient. I lived less than three minutes — give or take, thanks to the elevators in my dorm — from work, allowing me to maximize not only my free time between the end of class and the beginning of my afternoon shifts but also my time to sleep before morning shifts.
As it stands, this year my commute to Starbucks is closer to 30 minutes than to three, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. The genuine connections and relationships I’ve made behind the espresso machines are worth it. Other jobs could be more convenient, but I can’t imagine working at a location that could even come close to emulating the same dynamic I walked into last August and is one of my favorite comforts now.
It’s been over a year now since I began working at Starbucks, and looking back, I realize getting that job has actually done so much more than provide for part of my tuition. Work-Study has impacted me in ways spanning far beyond the place I call home for two shifts a week.
We all know the transition into college isn’t easy, and that’s an understatement for sure. Some people join clubs, others join frats and sororities — all of which are great ways to find community and a sense of belonging. But for me, something about working with the same people every week for a semester, and then getting to meet new ones as the schedule changes every semester is the best kind of instant connection made.
As cliché and corny as it sounds to say, I’m grateful to have had the chance to work with so many different people. I can credit the formation of countless friendships to my shifts last year, as well as new ones with the newcomers to Starbucks this semester.
Inside and outside of the store the dynamic stays the same. Something about making drinks for students in a time crunch really brings people together.
At the beginning of this school year I found out that my manager had switched stores alongside one of my favorite supervisors. It hit me then that I really only worked for 10-12 hours a week, yet I felt like a huge part of my life was shifting. At the end of the day, my experience with Work-Study may not be a common one, but it is my own.
From my first few shifts to now, I feel that I’ve not only grown as a worker, but as a member of a community. Faces have come and go in the store, many of which still keep in touch ⸺ and while I can’t speak for anyone else ⸺ I couldn’t ask for a better team to be a part of.
The unlikely bonds built first off of steaming milk and pouring espresso shots that have become a large part of my everyday life are something that I have nothing but gratitude for, and can credit Work-Study for bringing to life.