1) It is a blessing to find a college job where you are able to do homework on the clock. In the garages, if I’m not helping a customer, I can spend my time how I’d like. And while I may give in occasionally (or very often) to watching Netflix, I am able to get a lot of homework done while I work. I once wrote a 15-page paper during my 5-hour shift. This is a great type of job for college students, so we can earn money but still, primarily, focus on academics. On-campus employers are also really understanding of school schedules.
2) This campus is made up of a great variety of people, each with their own unique story and life. Yeah, I probably knew this before I started working in the garages, but I didn’t start to appreciate it as much until I got to meet so many of these people. I’ve had actual conversations with many customers and have made real bonds that have had a lasting impact on me. And this isn’t restricted to students. There are regular townies at the booths that visit campus, for certain libraries or to see performances, that I also love to talk to and hear about the highs of their day.
3) Management really can impact how enjoyable a job is. I had heard in leadership seminars about how the number one cause of leaving a job is unhappiness with the boss, but I didn’t realize how true that was for part-time jobs too. In high school, I worked in retail. In July when I started working, there were 160+ sales associates hired for the grand opening. By December, all of the original 160+ workers had quit. Every coworker I asked gave the same reason: bad management. And now, at the garages, with a boss that is great, that I feel comfortable going to with questions and being completely honest with, I realize how much a good boss can improve a job.
4) Coworkers make a huge difference – get to know them! In the garages, you work independently, but there are extra shift opportunities for special event parking. At these shifts, you work outside at the front entrance with another employee (in super bright neon vests, but let’s just forget about those). As I started signing up for these opportunities, I started to meet all of my coworkers and actually became friends with them. It feels good to work with people you like and have people you can go to with any work-related questions.
5) At those special event parking shifts, I also learned how many great performances come to IU Bloomington that I never hear about. From musicals to bands, there are so many art performances I’ve been missing out on. When working, I would often see the name of the show, have no clue what the show was, enter the name into my phone, and then end up wishing I was watching that show, instead of working that night.
6) Along with shows, IU definitely likes to supply their students with parking tickets. When I work at the Henderson garage, I spend half my time directing people to the Parking Operations office so they can appeal a ticket. So be careful where you park, because they will see, and they will ticket!
7) If you have a job with apparent perks, you will have “friends” who will try to benefit. When people learned that I worked at the garages, so many first reactions were requests for me to let them park for free. I even had strangers who I was meeting for the first time asking me this, and I was just thinking, “Excuse me, what even was your name?” It doesn’t work like this, even for my close friends, because I respect my job and I’m not looking to abuse it.
8) And the last lesson I learned from working in the parking garages? There are some middle-aged men who really do go through mid-life crises, and they will come driving through the garages in extremely nice cars, windows down, blasting the newest rap music. Just smile and politely laugh when they try to flirt with you.
Overall, it’s a great job that I’m lucky to have found. And while the lessons may not seem too monumental, they definitely have made an impact on me.