Many people would say that being a college student is a full-time job, though there is no paycheck that comes with grades and GPAs.
It’s no secret that the majority of college students these days are in debt. Now more than ever students are struggling to pay not only their tuition, course fees and supplies, but also their everyday living expenses such as food, transportation and housing.
This is why so many students are working part-time or full-time jobs on the side while simultaneously working toward their degrees. Some choose to go with more traditional side jobs such as working in retail, fast food or on-campus jobs. Others have taken less traditional routes to supplement their income.
One of the less common student jobs is bartending. There is no shortage of bars surrounding Main Campus, though only some employ UNM students.
On the other hand, the staff of Bricklight Dive — a bar located across the street from campus — consists almost entirely of UNM students.
Jenna Sturgis, a senior psychology and criminology double major, said she got into bartending out of necessity for a job, but she enjoys working at Bricklight Dive because of her love of beer and the casual environment.
“It’s definitely a college bar. It’s laid back and very chill,” Sturgis said. “People aren’t coming here to spend a lot of money. They come here to chill out and to relax from school.”
Sturgis and her co-workers — Lilly Moquin, a senior studio arts major, and Caroline Hanawalt, a senior anthropology major — spend the majority of their time at work pouring drinks, cleaning up and hostessing. They mix some wine-based drinks, but the bar doesn’t have a liquor license so they don’t delve far into the mixology aspect of bartending.
All three of them agreed their work environment is pleasant because they share a connection as working students not only with each other, but with the customers, who are typically UNM students and staff as well.
“Actually there’s some regulars here who are anthropology grad students, and I know them so they help me out with my homework,” Hanawalt said. “It’s nice because people understand we’re students too.”
Moquin said working with fellow students can be nice because her coworkers are helpful and understanding, but sometimes scheduling conflicts can be a hindrance because class times prevent them from deviating from that schedule.
“But when we are able to (cover shifts), we’re definitely more understanding with each other because we all know what we’re going through,” she said.
Though Bricklight Dive may be ideal for students in terms of environment and location, bartending is a highly unpredictable job in terms of wages.
On her best night, Sturgis estimated she makes $110 in tips.
On her worst, it’s $8.
Hanawalt estimated her income in terms of money earned per hour. Including her server’s wage of $5.25 per hour plus tips, she estimated she makes $18 per hour on the best nights and $9 on the worst.
Lilly Moquin said though the good and bad nights tend to even each other out, it’s not always enough to cover her expenses.
“It varies pretty greatly. I still have to get help from other places,” Moquin said.
Sturgis said she wishes instructors would take students’ needs to support themselves into account more frequently.
“It would be nice if professors and the University itself would acknowledge that the majority of its students are not getting any financial aid, and they do have to work. It sucks when you’ve got all these professors assigning insane amounts of homework and reading,” she said. “When you’ve got to support yourself and pay for your school or whatever it is, it’s hard because you can’t give up your job but you can’t give up school.”
Skylar Griego is a culture reporter for the Daily Lobo. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TDLBooks.