8 months into the pandemic, student employees reflect on how their jobs have changed

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Photo Credit: Julia Zheng | Daily Texan Staff

Editor’s note: A series of quotes in this article were removed after The Daily Texan learned they were fabricated. The Texan deeply regrets this breach of our standards. Read the statement from the fall 2020 managing editor here.

When Jacob Urbina clocks in for work, he walks the halls of the Biomedical Engineering Building alone. 

“It feels distinctly different than what I remembered,” biomedical engineering senior Urbina said. “Working there just feels unfamiliar and eerily quiet.”

For some students working on-campus jobs during the pandemic, the workplace initially brought feelings of anxiety. Now, they said they feel more confident about the safety protocols in place. 

Urbina was left without a job over the summer when he was laid off from a teaching assistant position that depended on in-person interaction. This fall, he applied to work as a shop assistant in the BME department at the shipping desk. 

“When COVID happened, my (former) boss could no longer offer me a position because students were no longer meeting in person, so I needed a place to work on campus, and this job has mainly helped to pay rent,” Urbina said. 

Urbina often sits behind the shipping desk alone while communicating with co-workers primarily through Slack and Zoom. He said the isolation and worry of contracting the virus can make the job difficult, but the digital relationships he’s made with his co-workers makes working easier. 

“The (BME) department is a close-knit community, and it feels like a family,” Urbina said. “So when BME offered an employment opportunity, I was ready to get involved despite my apprehension.”

Urbina said he was initially concerned that the in-person nature of the job would put him at risk for contracting COVID-19. However, he said he finds peace of mind in BME protocols, including the option to work remotely if he shows COVID-19 symptoms and job security if he tests positive and must quarantine at home. 

When Nanor Asadourian was asked to work during Mooov-In this semester, she was hesitant. The mathematics senior has assisted with the Duren Residence Hall move-in process every fall since 2018, but she said she was nervous about putting herself at risk if she worked in person.

“When I was asked to work during the Mooov-in period, I was very unsure,” Asadourian said.  “Once I was informed of the protocols that are in place for what we have to do and how we're being protected, I felt a bit safer.”

Asadourian said she continues to work as an office assistant in the residence hall so she can pay off her student loans. 

“Luckily during COVID, the managers are always (available) to talk to, and they’ve prioritized health overall,” Asadourian said.