Javier Lemache, a sophomore accounting major at Montclair State, finds time to balance activities on campus outside of class. But when he’s not studying or participating in his fraternity’s events, he’s working on campus as a caterer.
“It’s hard when I want to study but I’m too tired from work—sometimes I won’t get done until 11 p.m. at night,” said Lemache, age 20. “But some people who work the job aren’t students. It’s easy for me because I can go right from class, but some of my co-workers are full-time. They have kids to go home to.”
Much of the staff at Montclair State is recognized for the large responsibilities they have at the university—the deans, the professors, the advisers and the other various titles held by these staff members that students are familiar with.
But, like Lemache, there are many staff members with more “behind the scenes” jobs, which they’re less often recognized for. And, while full-time workers take on many of these jobs, some of them, like Lemache, are juggling other responsibilities.
Lemache balances his catering job along with other responsibilities on campus, which include both schoolwork and his fraternity, Alpha Phi Delta. Despite having the perks of being a student, Lemache still has many responsibilities under his belt.
“What I do depends on the day,” said Lemache. “There are days where I do pickup and deliveries—crates of coffee, sugars, cookies—that I’ll deliver to Dickson [Hall], University [Hall], the business building, pretty much anywhere on campus. Other days I work events either at the Student Center Ballrooms or on the seventh floor of University Hall.”.
Lemache said, when catering these events, he and his co-workers either hand out plates personally, or if the event is buffet-style, they constantly switch out the hot food and make sure there are enough plates and utensils for the guests.
Montclair State students are constantly receiving updates, whether via email or flyers, about events they can attend that are coming up on campus. But, students never really hear about the time and effort that these workers put in to pull them together. Even when students know which organization or club is hosting a big event, they don’t necessarily hear about who’s helping to set up or supply the food, drinks, refreshments and other necessities.
“Recently, I just worked an open house, so I was outside handing out water and chips,” Lemache recalled. “I also just worked a dining etiquette event where business majors are required to attend and learn how to eat properly. I had to hand out food and bus everything afterwards.”
While caterers often make tips, Lemache doesn’t. Instead, he is paid hourly for his services. In addition to the catering, Lemache also must polish glasses and utensils and clean up after events.
According to Lemache, he has to be extra mindful of sanitation, especially when working with chefs. “I got scolded one time for leaving a cart dirty in the kitchen,” he explained. “The chef was like, ‘Hey, who’s this new guy?’”
Lemache’s work isn’t weather permitting, either. “I pick up and do deliveries in the wind and snow,” said Lemache. “We’re still out there pushing carts outside. If stuff falls off the cart it can get messy.”
According to Lemache, the job does have its perks. “If a day goes smoothly, we sometimes get out an hour early,” said Lemache. “But, at times it gets slow and boring when you have to wait for people to finish up eating.”
He explained, “When I first started, I didn’t like it. It was too much. But you get to know the people, and it makes it a lot easier when everyone works as a team.”