Students make up Main Street workforce

Samantha Clift poses during shift at Birdseye Diner
Barbara Doyle / Castleton Spartan

The clicking of the door at Birdseye Diner mixed with the enticing smell of food cooking in the kitchen announced the beginning of the Friday night dinner rush on Main Street.

Samantha Clift, a waitress of over a year-and-a-half at the small establishment, awaited regular customers alongside a new employee who was being trained.

“I like working here,” she said. “We get a lot of regulars that come in with gossip.”

Along with the anticipated talk of the regulars in town, there are the tourists who travel to or through Castleton, bringing new stories to the table.

“Castleton is considered a tourist town between the leaf peepers that come in the fall, the skiers that come in the winter, and in the summer we have a lot of people who stay at Lake Bomoseen. It’s always pretty busy,” said Clift, explaining some of the social benefits of working off-campus.

Castleton students count on off-campus employment when work study jobs on don’t pan out, turning to businesses on Main Street that are close to the college.

Chrispin White, the director of Robert T. Stafford Center for Support and Study of the Community, helps students find on- and off-campus work study jobs for that needed income and experience from the working field.

“I feel it is very important for the college to assist students with obtaining jobs because we want students to be aware that the knowledge and skills they are learning in the classroom easily transfer to the workforce,” he said.

He further explains that students working during their college career strengthens their network of references, as well as gains them valuable experience and knowledge before graduation.

Popular off-campus student employment primarily takes place in the brightly colored yellow buildings on Main Street owned by John Rehlen. He explains that about a third of his employees are students from the college.

“We work around the student’s schedule,” he says, “because students come here for college first, working for me second.”

He continues on to say that he hires students who are qualified, and trains those who may not have worked before other than babysitting.

“Some students are hired when they’re freshman and stay all four years, which I like,” Rehlen said.

Sarah Schiendler, who has worked at the village store for three years, says that some of the things she likes about working at the store are the flexible hours and financial stability.

“The manager works in the morning, but besides her it’s all students who are employed here, and the job is pretty easy to get,” she said.

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