Working the Night Shift: Balancing Service and School

Students are struggling to support themselves with low-wage jobs.


Sam Klein

Roxeanne Oyesile, a first-year in CAS, has worked at Chipotle for over a year.

Elaine Chen, Contributing Writer

Living and studying in New York City, you have the opportunity to enjoy fantastic foods from all over the world. However, it’s not always viable to be the one sitting at the table — especially if you’re a student living in one of the most expensive cities in the United States.

That’s why some students choose to be on the other end of the order. Part-time jobs are common practice at NYU — they help add a little extra padding to empty wallets. Being one of the more approachable jobs for students with little to no work experience, the food service industry is a popular side gig among those strapped-for-cash.

However, the question arises: Can part time servers earn a living wage while residing in the city? Roxeanne Oyesile, a first-year in CAS who has worked at Chipotle for over a year, has an answer to that.

“[The pay is] barely about $10.30 per hour in Colorado, and here, in New York, is $13.50,” Oyesile said. For people who work full-time, they can count on taking home about $540 on a weekly basis before taxes and social security. Yet, due to the high cost of living, it is extremely difficult to survive without a supplemental form of income.

“For me, it’s fine, but for some people who have to pay the rent and support a family, it’s definitely not enough,” Oyesile said.

For students who are fortunate enough to have their parents pay tuition and housing expenses, money earned turns directly into extra cash for spending. However, there are many who still struggle to make ends meet, especially when much of their time is taken up with classes and school work.

But then there is a subset of people who aren’t in it for any monetary gain — they want the experience of working in a fast-paced customer service environment.

“I don’t really care about the wage. I was just trying to kill some time and gain some working experience,” said Ted Shen, a first-year at CAS, who worked at a Japanese restaurant in his hometown, Shanghai.

“I learned multi-tasking when the restaurant is really busy, and I gained the sense of responsibility and the feeling of making and managing my own money,” Oyesile said.

Although a job in a restaurant is rewarding, some students want more flexibility and options for jobs within NYU. As students, we have readings, essays and projects on our minds at all times which can get tangled up when a job takes too much time from someone’s time for academics. Further, the inaccessibility of paying internships causes frustration when the only jobs that many students are able to get have nothing to do with their future careers.

While being a server can be rewarding for some, many students are frustrated by the difficulty they have finding relevant work experience and call upon NYU to develop the existing resources.


Email Elaine Chen at [email protected]