This year, as compared to last year on campus, is the first that I have an off-campus job. Last year I mainly focused on my work-study and school instead of branching out into Schenectady to look for further employment opportunities. I think part of me was also scared to branch out and embrace Schenectady and all that it has to offer as the city has always had such a bad reputation. This is simply not the case anymore. Since becoming employed at Café Nola on Union Street, I have realized just how much the city has to give Union College’s students. Not only is it bursting with vibrant and eclectic restaurants, it also is a lot safer than I expected in regards to walking home later in the evening (granted I work five minutes away from my dorm).
So what’s it like working off campus? It’s pretty awesome. I feel like it supplies someone with a lot more freedom. I am suddenly part of something new, a different kind of family than the one I have at Union. I get to meet numerous people from around the area (or even out of the area), get off campus for a little while when I need a break from the everyday grind, I get to meet new Union students who come in to eat, and I get to be part of an awesome atmosphere. At first I thought I wouldn’t be able to maintain an off-campus job while also going to class and trying to get my work done, but it has been relatively simple. I’ve realized the key is time management and a good amount of sleep the night before. Plus giving yourself a little free time here and there leads to an overall less stressful life on and off campus.
It is now the fifth week and with midterms coming up I have a feeling life is going to get a little more hectic. This will be a good test run to see what it will be like when I am working off-campus and have to take my finals. Honestly, I think that it will be more beneficial to work outside of Union in order to take a little break from studying and stressing about this class and that class. Plus the overall environment at Café Nola is bright and cheerful with all the colorful decorations, the smell of alligator bites cooking, the traditional southern style music, and the happy smiling faces of all the people I work with. Working as a waitress in Schenectady has already helped to pull me a bit further out of my shell and has once again taught me the value of hard work. I would really recommend getting a job off campus if you have some extra time and want to broaden your horizons (and of course make a few extra bucks). So far it has been a really great experience and has made me feel more comfortable in and more connected to the city of Schenectady.