Off-campus workers get higher wages, out of ‘bubble’

Margaux Cameron

Even though campus jobs are widely available, several Whitman students chose to find a job in Walla Walla. They note many benefits: Jobs off-campus usually pay better, can be carried through summer vacation and give students an opportunity to experience a world outside of Whitman. Five students give their perspective on working off-campus, including wages, responsibilities and the worst parts of their jobs.

Name: Kellie Wutzke
Workplace: U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
Wage: $11 per hour

“I needed a full-time job over the summer that I could continue part-time during the school year,” said junior Wutzke, who has worked as a budget technician since June. She takes care of property files, and enjoys the good environment and wonderful co-workers. In addition to working 16 hours per week, Wutzke also takes 20 credits at Whitman. “I have to get up at 5 a.m. to work before class,” she said.

“That’s my least favorite part of my job.”

Name: Lissa Erickson
Workplace: Ski Bluewood
Wage: $9 per hour

Erickson, a first-year, works five hours every Saturday as a ski coach for Bluewood Alpine Race Team. She works with a group of four to six children between the ages of 8 and 10. “We free ski, do some drills and run gates,” she said. She’s been working at Bluewood since December, after her high school ski coach got her in contact with the head coach. “I love working with the kids and instilling in them a love of skiing,” said Erickson, “but keeping track of them sometimes makes me nervous: I’m worried they’ll get hurt!”

Name: Annabelle Berklund
Workplace: YMCA
Wage: $10 per hour

Berklund, a sophomore, works as a deck supervisor: she facilitates swim lessons, arranges schedules, manages registration, and gives advice to the swim instructors. She’s been working at the YMCA since last January, when a professor recommended she apply. Other Whitman students works at the Y for America Reads/Counts: “there are always jobs available, especially at the pool, so apply!” said Berklund. “It’s a great chance to meet people off campus. I have a lot of responsibility; it’s a taste of the real world.”

Name: Ben VanDonge
Workplace: First Presbyterian Church
Wage: $250 per month

Junior VanDonge shares the position of Co-Associate Director of Music with Addison Koski, another Whitman student. They lead worship service, coordinating music, worship teams, the calendar, and quarterly meetings. VanDonge, a native of Walla Walla who also works at Bright’s during breaks, was in the First Presbyterian youth group. “Worship is very important to me,” he said. “It doesn’t feel like work: I’d be doing it even if I wasn’t getting paid.”

Name: Katie King
Workplace: Luscious by Nature
Wage: $8.50 plus tips

King, a senior, has worked as a waitress at Luscious since September ’06. “I love knowing that I pay my own bills and getting out of the Whitman bubble is essential for my sanity!” she said in an e-mail.

“Sometimes I feel left out, though: most Whitties don’t have jobs and spend their non-homework hours tossing a Frisbee, going camping and playing.” She enjoys serving professors who eat at Luscious: “I get to see them as ‘normal people.'” Her least favorite part of the job is cleaning up after small children. “When I am on the floor picking up potato chip crumbles, I find myself feeling particularly low: Why do I do this again? Oh wait, it’s my independence that makes it all worthwhile!” she said.