Since COVID-19 hit the Bryan-College Station community, Texas A&M student workers have faced many new obstacles they weren’t expecting when they applied to work on campus.
Student workers have encountered fewer hours, extensive safety and sanitization processes and even the loss of internships and positions as the economy struggles to recover.
As an Aggie Spirit Bus driver, statistics senior Grace Brown’s main job is to transport faculty and students to and from campus, and said that COVID-19 has affected her on-campus job in many ways.
“I would transport hundreds of students every day,” Brown said. “Once I came back from break after all classes were moved online and most buildings and services on campus closed, I drove maybe 10 to 20 students each day.”
Brown said the most difficult change Aggie Spirit drivers faced was the reduction of hours to their shifts.
“Many of these students are attracted to the job for the higher pay because a lot of us pay our own bills,” Brown said. “After the number of hours were reduced I started to hear some of my coworkers talk about finding another job just so they could make ends meet. But as most people know, finding another job in this climate can be very difficult as well.”
Along with cutting hours, Brown said A&M Transportation Services has implemented new policies to help protect the health of both the drivers and passengers, such as restricting entrances and exits to the buses and requiring regular cleaning and sanitation procedures.
“Passengers are also expected to distance themselves from each other while they are on the bus, and only a certain number of people are allowed on the bus at a time,” Brown said. “As drivers, we have been provided masks, gloves, hand sanitizer, goggles and cleaning supplies, and are expected to wipe down frequently touched surfaces. The buses also routinely undergo more thorough cleanings while they're not out running routes.”
Statistics senior Alex Peters expressed how COVID-19 affected both his job and his summer internship.
“I lost my first summer internship as well as my off-campus tutoring job,” Peters said. “I really enjoyed tutoring and was really looking forward to the internship, so it was a bummer to say the least.”
While dealing with his internship being cancelled, Peters said he wasn’t the only one struggling to find opportunities for the summer.
“Someone put a website together for companies to advertise remote internships specifically targeted at students who had lost theirs due to COVID-19,” Peters said. “My academic advisor notified me of this site and I put in some applications, after which I interviewed and was hired at a great company for a full time remote internship. I've been incredibly fortunate to have this situation turn out well for me, as many people have not.”
The Texas A&M Division of Human Resources & Original Effectiveness released a multi-phase return to campus plan that ensures the safety of all Texas A&M employees as well as the people they serve.
“This plan intentionally takes a phased approach so that we can learn from small, incremental movements towards a full return to work on campus,” the plan reads.
For more information on the multiphase plan for returning to campus, visit the Texas A&M Division of Human Resources & Original Effectiveness website.