A busy student finds that more is better when it comes to keeping focused.
Tegan Mason, a junior premedical major, balances school, several extracurriculars and a job as student coordinator in Boyd Market, the highest position available to students through dining services. Despite her heavy workload, she still finds energy to make it through the day.
An advertisement for positions within dining services was all it took for Mason to apply fall quarter of her freshman year.
After half a quarter in Boyd Dining Hall Mason was stressed out and concluded dining hall work was not for her. The lengthy process of cleaning up the salad bar was her deciding factor.
“I put in my two weeks notice and quit because it was my freshman year,” Mason said. “I was panicked and thought I was going to fail out of college.”
Her tactfulness in quitting left her in good standing with dining services. After remaining jobless the rest of her freshman year she tried again, this time applying for a position in Boyd Market.
From that point on, her career in dining services moved quickly.
Sophomore year Mason worked two quarters as a regular employee in the market before applying for manager. She then went through manager training during spring quarter, which involves a one credit class.
Fall quarter of her junior year Mason became an official manager in Boyd Market. After expressing interest in the student coordinator position she was promoted at the beginning of this quarter and saw her responsibilities grow even larger.
Mason orders everything that comes into the market, hires and schedules employees, runs weekly meetings and supervises all of the managers. One of the hardest parts for her has been managing her peers.
“Sometimes I feel like they’re afraid to be my friend because I went from being a regular employee to being their boss and a lot of them have been there longer than I have,” Mason said.
Kael Au, a senior at OU, is one such employee. She has been a regular employee in Boyd Market for a total of 10 quarters and worked alongside Tegan ever since she started.
Au obtained the position her freshman year after her RA gave her a tip on a job opening. She has been pleased with the flexibility of the position and the work of her superiors.
“They’re really good at working around when you can work and when you can’t,” Au said.
Ultimately, Mason said employees respect her authority and if they do not, a strikes policy is in place. Her experience as a leader has taught her how to handle her role.
“Any job I’ve worked I’ve always worked my way up to management positions, so I’m used to it,” Mason said.
While reprimanding can be stressful, Mason the flexible hours her position allows eases some of that stress. As a student coordinator she can work up to 30 hours a week and usually falls between 20 and 30.
“It’s nice to be able to work up to 30 if I need it,” Mason said.
Considering her other time commitments, it is a wonder she is able to find time for work. Mason said she often goes in early or leaves late to get all the tasks of her job done.
Sometimes shifts can be lengthy, and Mason has had to work open to close before, but she makes sure they do not go too late. Whereas in the past staff worked as late as 5 a.m., Mason has pushed this up two or three hours.
As president and member of OU Women’s Crew she cannot afford to lose sleep. When the weather is warm enough the team practices at 5 a.m. Monday through Friday on Dow Lake.
Nicholas Goode, coach of women’s crew, only has words of praise for all that Tegan does.
“All I can say is that it takes an extraordinary person to balance a job and school, especially a job with leadership,” Goode said. “But when you add a demanding sport like crew it requires a level of dedication and time management that most are unable to accomplish.”
Her teammates rely on Mason’s attendance, but are able to acknowledge everything else she is trying to balance. Erin Derosa, a junior member of the crew team and its executive board, said that being a part of the team requires you to try harder in every other aspect of your life.
Derosa feels that Mason has too much on her plate and knows it, but still manages things well.
“I would not recommend that she ever takes on the role of president again since she does have so much going on with school and work,” Derosa said. “[But] at our exec meetings, she is always present in the moment. She does a good job.”
As if crew is not enough, Mason is also a member of the Alpha Chi Sigma chemistry fraternity and volunteers at the hospital every Monday. Kelly Hughes, a senior who is a member of the fraternity and a former crew member, is in awe of Mason’s dedication.
“I know when she is not working, not rowing, not in class and not in a meeting, she is at Alden studying,” Hughes said. “Honestly, I don’t know how she does it, and believe me because I tried.”
Somehow Mason does find time for it all, usually at the cost of a good night’s sleep. She does not mind, though, because it has benefited her in the long run.
“[My job] helps me in all aspects of my life because I know I have to get this done at this time or I’m not going to get it done,” Mason said. “It helps me keep on track with everything else.
Besides the occasional nightmare about not completing an order for work, Mason has managed to maintain a busy schedule and keep her sanity.
This is the second part of a two-part series on dining services jobs.
- Level 1: normal student employee
- Level 2: managers in training
- Level 3: managers
- Level 4: student coordinators
Tegan Mason’s Work History: