The double life of an employed college student

Tom O'Connor, Staff Reporter

Like carrying plates and glasses on a server tray, working a job while attending a university can be quite arduous to balance.

“I hate being broke; I am going to be honest,” said Gaige Davis, a music education major who works as a waiter at Cracker Barrel. “I would rather make my own money than asking, like, my parents for it.”

Davis has immersed himself in ensemble at the Doudna Fine Arts Center, sometimes making it near impossible to work some nights.

When engineering major Lamar Demus filled a job vacancy at Walmart two years ago, his social life vanished.

While employed at Walmart, he is often unable to save money or live better.

Rarely is there ever a reprieve from the eight-hour, five-day a week schedule he has labored to work around.

“Just throw a few weekends off now and again, or get off earlier,” Demus suggested. “On the weekends, I work 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., that’s almost your entire day.”

As a student, the job commands that he strategize.

There are typically about eight hours, on any given day, that he surrenders to his managers at Walmart.

Those eight hours do not account for schoolwork, a priority that greatly overshadows his obligations to the mega retail center.

He has few moments to himself, which means that, between working weekends and holiday breaks, he is largely unable to visit family or take off on a social outing.

“They do not respect the school schedule sometimes,” Demus said. “I mean, as far as classes they do, but as far as breaks, I am down here every break, man.”

Off days are rather foreign to him.

When Demus’ employer does award him a day off, he does not, admittedly, know how to occupy his newfound spare time.

Rent at his apartment equates to 900 dollars a month, an expense he splits with his roommate. Then there’s the trips to the fuel pump, another 50 dollars he must shell out every two weeks, in addition to his wireless phone expenses.

After factoring in the bills he has to pay every month, there is little left for any indulgences.

Neither of the students, however, are indignant about every facet of their jobs.

With an appreciation for the skills he absorbed at Cracker Barrel, Davis, who is poised to become a teacher one day, came to believe that his knack for customer service will translate to constructive relations with both parents and students.

Meanwhile, Demus has chalked up his talent for leadership to the responsibilities accorded to him at work.

He manages and directs the training of new Walmart employees, where turnover is a habitual occurrence.

“I definitely built some leadership there and, like I say, (I am) actually dedicating myself to something,” Demus said.

Tom O’Connor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].