Life as a Student Restaurant Worker in a Pandemic

By Madison Van Horn, Staff Writer—

Student restaurant workers at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga must balance college course loads and serving customers, all while staying safe during the Covid-19 pandemic.   

Ariana Saveh is a UTC senior from Jackson, TN who has been working at Be Caffeinated, a local coffee shop, for about four months. Saveh said that she works hard to balance school and work, so interacting with fellow UTC students provides a refreshing break.

“Working in this industry is really time-consuming, trying to keep up with school and work,” Saveh said. “I like that we have the college scene here because I get to serve our customers and relate to them at the same time.”

Despite the challenges of balancing school and work, Saveh said that she loves her job and plans on joining the Be Caffeinated team full-time as part-owner after graduation.

“Be Caffeinated prides itself on community and having a backbone of kindness at all times,” Saveh said. “I also genuinely love the art of making coffee. I love experimenting with new drinks and my favorite thing is helping a customer find a new drink.”

UTC sophomore Savannah Saylors is another student restaurant worker, and has been working at Champy’s on MLK for a little over a year. Champy’s is a local favorite, known for its fried chicken and fun atmosphere. 

While serving fellow students can be fun, Saylors said that keeping up with school and work has been challenging in the past. Now she sets aside time each week to ensure that she gets her schoolwork done.

“I have gotten a lot better at balancing school and work because last year I really struggled,” Saylors said. “I have requested off two days a week that I fully dedicate to school and I try to work ahead on assignments.”

Another challenge that student restaurant workers face is maintaining Covid-19 guidelines to keep themselves and customers safe. 

Tyler Rogers, a UTC junior and NoBaked Cookie Dough employee from Jackson, TN, said that she values her safety in the workplace and keeping customers safe as well.

“NoBaked takes a lot of precaution and responsibility when it comes to keeping the employees safe,” Rogers said. “Changes have been implemented to ensure our safety, as well as our customers.”

Many UTC students have to balance school and working, but Rogers said that her busy schedule has taught her how to manage her time and appreciate her workplace.

“As a student and a member of Greek life, I consistently have a lot on my plate, but NoBaked’s flexibility has helped me learn how to balance my schedule,” Rogers said. “I’m super lucky to not only have a job that allows me to focus on my academic responsibilities but allows me to feel safe at work during this pandemic.”

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