As the semester ends, many student workers are exchanging neatly rolled silverware and alphabetically ordered DVDs for more permanent job positions.
They are headed for internships and professions that can give them an edge at school and in the job market.
“I chose to do an internship, first of all, because I was offered one,” said Katlyn Haney, junior marketing major from San Antonio. “Also, I could get class credit for it, and it came highly suggested by the business department.”
Unfortunately, for Pam Wheeler, the scheduling manager at the local Cracker Barrel on Highway 351, this means a lot of empty staff positions. Local businesses in “college towns” are always aware their workforce is subject to change at any moment, and they plan accordingly.Â
At Cracker Barrel, where college students make up nearly a quarter of the staff, managers are careful to hire people who are not likely to miss work frequently.
“We have to ask the right questions upon hiring people to make sure we get what we need,” Wheeler said. “If people are always gone, we can’t run our business.”
For some employed students, this means less vacation time.
“Taking off a week or two is easy, but months are almost impossible,” Wheeler said.
To pick up the slack, businesses hire part-time or temporary workers. Often, native Abilenians returning home for the summer exchange places with college students leaving Abilene.
Hastings, located on South 14th Street, is one business that benefits from these “transfers.” Employees who work for the company in another city can continue working at the Abilene location while they are here, said Tink Murphree, assistant
manager of Hastings.Â
“Hastings is really good about keeping people in the company,” she said.
And although not everyone calls Abilene home, some students choose to stay and work during the summer, and not just because of housing leases, summer school or empty wallets.
“I’m married, so I’d be staying in Abilene anyway,” said Megan MacDonald, senior music education major from Kingston, Wash. “But that seems to be the case with a lot of seniors, even if they aren’t married. Abilene is their home now, at least for a while.”
MacDonald, who works in the Brown Library, said that they have plenty of employees for the summer.
Student workers are not allowed to work more than 25 hours a week, so campus employers work doubly hard to fill all of their
open staff positions.