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The Carletonian

Students seeking extra work hours find employment off-campus

While Jancyn Appel ’23 frequents students’ inboxes in her role as student body president, she also frequents Northfield’s local Target as a cashier. 

“On campus, I work in the Admissions Office, which has really inconsistent hours,” she said. “Off-campus, I work at Target and Pizza Lucé.”  

Appel and 80% of students participate in the College’s work-study program which provides students with part-time employment during their time at Carleton. Subsidized by the federal government, Carleton provides all students with demonstrated need at most 10 hours of work per week. Appel, however, is part of a group of students who turn to the broader Northfield community for additional employment. For many, the issue is simply financial. 

“Pay off-campus is significantly higher,” explained Appel. “I have a number of indirect costs I need to account for.” Her job on campus is not shift-based, resulting in uncertain hours. Additionally, with her role as CSA President, she has “about 20 hours of work [per week] that [she] can’t get paid for.”

She is not the first to recognize the time commitment associated with being an elected official for the student body. This past March, the CSA Senate passed a referendum compensating the senate executive board for 10 hours of their work per week, a result of years of campaigning dating back to at least Walter Paul’s senate presidency in 2018. The rules regarding executive pay, however, state that should a CSA executive choose to be compensated, they would be barred from holding another job on campus. Appel elected not to receive compensation. 

Despite working such long hours, Appel does not think the issue lies within the student employment program but instead with indirect costs including books, flights and winter appropriate clothing which are not addressed by the College. “I think the school needs more fail-safes to ensure students have enough to manage indirect costs aside from the student employment wage…There needs to be better textbook coverage and emergency funding though [for that,] the Dean of Students Office needs a larger budget.”

Some see the lack of hours as attributable to Student Employment. “I do not think student employment is doing enough to support students in these situations” said Avi Bailon ’23 regarding the 10 hour a week regulation. “Because I am limited in the amount of hours I can work on campus, yet I work double the amount I do on campus in my job outside student employment,” Bailon works as a Resident Assistant on campus, the highest paying job on campus, with 14.5 hours allotted weekly. On top of this, they work 20 hours a week at a local bagel shop. “I feel that the argument for capping hours on campus isn’t valid,” Bailon argued,  “especially for upperclassmen, since we know how the term ebbs and flows.”

Still, while Bailon is a proponent of more hours, they “do not advise” it for “first-years when they are learning the expectations of a Carleton student.”

Another sophomore, who preferred to remain anonymous, worked in food service in Northfield for 15 hours per week during her first year. “An 8 hour work-study is not enough money,” she explained, “it all goes to my tuition.”

Although this practice is not recommended by the College, the administration is aware of it. “We also understand that some Carleton students are working off campus,” said Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Art Rodriguez, “We would be concerned if on-campus or off-campus work prevented any student from getting the most they could out of their Carleton education.” 

Regarding the possibility of increased hours, Rodriguez described it as “not an option” but mentioned that administration is reviewing the federal program. “This topic came up over the course of inclusion, diversity and equity (IDE) planning conversations by students, staff and faculty. The topic was important enough that…two IDE planning working groups [decided] to recommend a review of student employment at Carleton.”

Despite arguments of low hours and wages, some Carls are not financially motivated in their off-campus employment. Elliot Hanson ’23 was seeking a specific job description. “I really wanted to work with metal and jewelry but couldn’t get into the Carleton class. I had heard about MakeShift from a classmate, walked in, loved their jewelry and asked for a job.” Hanson works at a local jewelry store as a metalsmith as a result of his own desire to learn more about the jewelry-making process.

 Describing the job as “initially tricky,” Hanson quickly adjusted by working his hours on weekend mornings before “campus really becomes active.”

Similarly, two students who work at local coffee shops ascribed their off-campus job to wanting more involvement with the broader Northfield community. “The on-campus jobs are great because they have to coincide well with class schedules,” explained Naiya Karl ’23, who also said she “liked the idea of getting to meet people from the community.” 

Not all students who have off-campus jobs work in Northfield, however. Sriya Konda ’24, a computer science major, worked for American Airlines as a product management intern for a year. In spite of the fact that it “took up a lot of time” and that she wouldn’t do it again, she and every other student interviewed agreed on one thing: off-campus means better pay. 

Hanson opted out of on-campus employment in favor of his metalworking job as he “could earn the same amount in four or five hours at the metal shop [as] in a full day at Carleton,” but others, such as an anonymous senior, chose to stay employed on campus.

“I like my Carleton jobs a lot, — that’s why I haven’t quit — but it’s more about what I’m doing for them than the money I’m earning.”

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