Student Spotlight – Brittany

Q: What is your background like? Personal/Professional? Major?

A: I’m from West Chester, Ohio, so not too far from here. I have a major in Individualized Studies, which is like create your own major. Some people hear about it, some people have no idea it exists. My focus is Cyber Security. Miami doesn’t have a program for that yet—they’re working on it—but I’m graduating so I made my own. I’ve been quite involved on campus in terms of organizations. My very first day of college I worked here, so I’ve been in the bakery for four years.

Q: So you want to do stuff with Cyber Security when you graduate?

A: Yeah! I do have a job set for this summer. It’s an internship but it’s a perfect internship so I’m definitely going to take it. It looks like I could possibly go farther with it too and stay with the company after. Even if I don’t, I’ll be doing something Cyber Security related.

Q: How did you get into the food service? Prior experience?

A: Well I worked at Wendy’s for a few months. That does not really count at all. Otherwise, no. I knew nothing. I didn’t even learn how to cook for my parents or my family. I knew nothing coming in here. I saw the bakery job posting and it said “work with chocolate” and “work with cookies,” and I said, “okay, okay, you’ve sold me already.” So I applied. But really no prior experience with culinary or baking.

Q: Can you describe the student manager process? How did you get the job and what additional training did you receive?

A: I’ll give you the short answer to that one. I started out as a Student Specialist as everyone does. There are some Student Managers and some Student Specialists and we all work together. Student Managers are the ones who really know what they’re doing and they’re the ones directing the activity. They know what needs to be done. Student Specialists go around and do all of the stuff. So I worked for about a year figuring things out, knowing what was going on, learning, paying attention. And then, one semester, there was a lack of leadership. I knew what was going on so I kind of took that role and then people started asking me questions and treating me like a student manager because I knew what needed to be done. I went and asked my General Manager about becoming a student manager, kind of inquiring about the official process. Since I was already pretty much doing it, I thought, I may as well go through the process and make it official. My manager agreed and then I did the winter online training. I completed all of my 40 hours of training online, which was a lot of fun over my winter break. After that, I was a student manager for that spring and have been ever since. I’ve gone to the leadership conferences and the training programs over the summers because you have to do that yearly.

Q: What is your actual role? What do you do on a daily basis?

A: On a daily basis, I make sure everything gets done. We have certain lists for the day, and a confusing thing about those is that some things are written down and some things are not. It is easy to follow a list that is written down, but there’s a lot of things that need to be done and in a certain order that are not written down, which requires a lot of organization: especially when changes happen. In those instances, you have to change your memorization and the team must get together to discuss, “oh, that happened?” You know, you’re figuring out what changed. You really have to be attentive to what happens because sometimes changes happen last minute. In short, I basically ensure that everything gets done and that it all gets done correctly. The team works in one big room for the most part. It’s Student Managers and Student Specialists all working together.

I’m really alert when I work, and you have to be. I make sure everyone is doing everything correctly and following protocol, following rules: and understanding priority, too. There are some things that need to be done at certain times, so making sure that they are. And if there are any problems, it’s my responsibility to fix them or figure out how to fix them.

Q: How would you describe your relationship with the other student employees?

A: I try to get to know them on a personal level. In our bakery atmosphere, we’re able to talk to each other. It’s unlike other food positions on campus where you’re kind of doing your own station and you’re kind of stuck, like dish washing or frying. In the bakery, we talk to each other all the time because we don’t do the same things every day. One person will do this thing and the next day, they may do something else. It’s not like you go in and go to the dish-washing corner every day. You go in and do something different. Obviously there are some things that we always have to do that aren’t going to change on a daily basis, but we do things a little differently every day. We can all work on the same thing together or sometimes we’ll split it up and come back together. But we definitely encourage people to talk to each other. It makes it more enjoyable to be at work, and we want everyone to look forward to working. If you can make it more enjoyable, why wouldn’t you? However, we all understand that if something needs to get done, we as a team need to buckle-down and do it. We communicate in a way where we are respectful of everyone.

Q: Favorite thing about working for MU Dining?

A: It has really allowed me to learn more about myself because I have been here for four years. In high school, I didn’t speak to anyone; I was really quiet. Now, in college, I’m more talkative and I learned that through the bakery and by talking to people there. Every time there is a challenge, you have to work your way through it. It has really helped me grow and I’m really, really grateful for that. I came to college for two reasons: The first was to learn how to be more social and to learn and develop academically. But academics was not my sole focus in college. It was also to become more social because I was really lacking in that aspect. The bakery has helped me with that part. So I would definitely say I have learned a lot at Miami. And in addition to earning a degree and learning from the classroom and non-classroom aspects of that process, the bakery has really, really helped me too. It is definitely a highlight of my collegiate career. If I think back to college, I will think of the bakery first, before any academics actually. I’ve learned how to speak with people and how to solve problems. I’ve learned how to understand that a problem may come from something and then how to fix it before it does. I’ve learned how to figure out what someone’s problem is when talking to them and how to solve it. I can determine why they’re walking toward me and fix it right then and there so a really quick way to make it more efficient. I’ve also learned how to be really, really efficient. But yeah, it has definitely helped in the social aspects.

Q: Any advice for applying/working for MU Dining?

A: Pay attention when you come to work. Come to work and be respectful of it, too. Follow your schedule, show up on time, wear the correct attire. It’s a two-way street; if you’re saying you’re going to work for someone, actually do it. Try to look beyond your job duties and figure out what’s really going on around you because that will really help you learn about the environment that you’re in.

Q: What are some of your hobbies? Interests?

A: When I still lived on campus, I was really big into Residence Hall Life like CLT and RHA. Then I moved off campus and that became a void because I was no longer on campus. I am in a sorority, Alpha Epsilon Phi, and I’ve also been really into chess lately. I’m not good: it takes years and years to get even remotely good at it, but it’s really interesting to me! I’ll definitely be spending more time after college learning about chess and playing a bit. That’s one hobby right now, anyway. I’m also President of a Culinary Association. I’ve been in that organization for three semesters now as President. It’s been a great experience too because it’s also helped me grow as a leader. There are challenges and problems that arise, so I’ve had to learn how to handle them. I’m the only administrator, for lack of a better word, so if people have a problem they come to me and I work to find an answer. There’s also a lot of chefs and I get to work with them, which is great. 

Q: Favorite dish to prepare? Eat?

A: I would probably have to lean more toward the bakery side instead of culinary. I definitely like cookies. Just a basic chocolate chip cookie. Or a Reese’s muffin because I’m around that all the time. Pretty much any baked good.

Q: Favorite TV show?

A: At the moment, Survivor, because it’s going on right now. It’s getting close to ending so we’re about to know who the final winner is. I’ve been watching Survivor for a few seasons. It’s really interesting watching people interact, the whole social interaction aspect of the show. Like I said, I started learning how to be social in college, which is a really late time to do that. So seeing that in the show—how they all interact and manipulate each other—is really interesting. So yeah, Survivor just because it’s really interesting and fun. It’s relaxing to watch.

Q: Cat or dog?

A: Cat … or kitten, actually.

Q: Sweet or salty?

A: Probably sweet, for the bakery part. I like them both, but I have to say sweet.

Q: What is one thing that every Miami student should have on their Miami Bucket List?

A: They should have a lot! I actually have a bucket list and I have to get it all done in two weeks. Make your bucket list for Miami before your final two months of your senior year. I have so much stuff to do. The biggest thing: hike in Western Woods or just hike around Oxford—Pfeffer Park, especially. It’s really beautiful. The geography surrounding Oxford is actually very special. Pfeffer Park is definitely special, geographically speaking. So yeah, just hike around: preferably when it’s warmer out! Also, watch the sunsets and sunrises on campus. Or go find a location and sit there and wait for the sunrise or sunset and then just enjoy it.

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