Student life as: Starbucks barista

Lingyi Hou, Contributing Writer

Coffee is a staple for many college students, but for some, coffee is more than just a daily caffeine boost. For students who work as baristas, their whole job revolves around it. If you ever visit the Starbucks on East Ninth Street and Second Avenue, you may meet CAS sophomore Timothy Ackerlund, who works there as a barista.

Ackerlund began working at a Starbucks location in his hometown of Chicago in 2011. At that time, he was a high school student, but he quickly discovered that he wanted to commit himself to working at Starbucks, possibly even as a corporate executive after graduating from college. For him, Starbucks not only stands for a great brand with quality customer service, but also a serious part of his life.

“Starbucks really treats us very well, giving us a lot of benefits including health insurance, a retirement plan and stock, even though we are part-time workers,” Ackerlund said. “This job experience offers me a great opportunity to be part of a team and understand how other people’s daily lives are going and how to make their life better.”

Unlike some baristas who complain about picky customers and intensive work, Ackerlund loves to connect with each customer in a unique way. By making customers their drinks, he is able to discover interesting facts about their lives. 

“I really enjoy making friends with customers over coffee, even just for moments,” Ackerlund said. “One of the most interesting things in my job is meeting people from different backgrounds. Then I can hear and learn many new things about their country, their life and their culture through talking. I love coffee, but I love customer communications more.”

Ackerlund’s job responsibilities include running the cash register, making drinks and serving customers. He works 15 hours per week, but not more than eight hours a day. Besides his job as a barista, he is double majoring in politics and economics and works as an admissions ambassador. With such a busy schedule, Ackerlund sometimes drinks coffee himself.

Do not hesitate to strike up a conversation with the baristas on your next coffee run — they may be a fellow student.

A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, Oct. 28th print edition. Email Lingyi Hou at [email protected].