By Anna-Maria Thalassinos

Coffee shop gives students job experience

Students wait and chat while the machines and blenders roar, creating sweet and rich drinks. UA Rise is the popular coffee shop found at UAHS, however many students are not aware of what being an employee at this local “hot spot” entails.

Beyond running as a fully functional business, UA Rise is also the class Career Based Intervention Program. CBIP is a “work-based learning/academic/ intervention program for students,” according to UAHS’ Program of Studies for 2012-13.

According to Karen D’Eramo, one of UA Rise’s teacher advisers, the idea for a coffee shop in UAHS originated during the 2008-09 school year. Co-adviser Steve Colahan and D’Eramo were interacting with students who were working outside of school when they got the inspiration for the shop.

With permission from former UAHS principal Kip Greenhill, Colahan and D’Eramo decided to open the coffee shop inside UAHS. The idea was to have an opportunity for student employment that was closer to school to better accommodate high school students.

“The whole school year [2008-09], all our lessons were planned around how to create a small business,” D’Eramo said. “[The students] created a business plan, developed a drink menu, designed t-shirts and logos, and basically built it from the ground up.”

Comparable to applying for a job in the outside world, there is a procedure in order for students to work at UA Rise.

To become a worker, students must fill out an application. Aside from listing standard personal information, students seeking employment are asked for former employers and references.

As an employee, students obtain two school credits; one for working, and one for the academic aspect.

“Academic wise, they are in the process of reading a book and they are going to use information from that book for UA Rise,” D’Eramo said.

For senior Gretchen Messick, who has worked at UA Rise for three years, the shop offered her a job that fit well with her busy schedule.

“I was playing soccer and so I didn’t have time to have a job outside of school because I was playing year-round. Even in the summer I couldn’t get a job, so I wanted to [make] some kind of money,” Messick said.

Although students can get coffee only in the mornings and during fourth and fifth lunch periods, D’Eramo and Colahan are at UA Rise from 7:30 a.m. until 1:30 p.m.

“[We are there] all day, everyday. It’s pretty all encompassing,” D’Eramo said. “From zero period to sixth period straight.”

Since UA Rise correlates with having a part-time job in the outside world, students obtain a percentage of the profits made from the business.

According to Messick, the paycheck varies between student workers. The money employees receive is based on their performance and maintaining goals, as well as the hours they work.

“There are people who have gotten paid $20 for a third of the year because they don’t show up to their shifts and there have been people who work 20 shifts a week and if they are here five periods a day they get paid like $300,” Messick said. “Last year I got paid on average $70-$100. I’ll probably get paid a little more this year just because I’ve been working more, but it just depends.”

Aside from obtaining various skills for the future, student workers build and maintain lasting friendships, as well as great memories.

Over the three years senior John Jeffers has worked at UA Rise, he has established many friendships and fond memories from his job.

“[This is] one of my favorite classes to take in the school…[and] I’m close to most of the [workers],” Jeffers said.

By working at this local coffee shop, students gain experience and skills that they will incorporate into their lives after high school.

“The most important thing they get out of this is the cooperation and how to work well with other people,” D’Eramo said. “They can go to any coffee shop and know what to do there…make coffee and how to be a barista.”

Messick said that her job has enabled her to get a real sense of a job in the professional world.

“You definitely get an experience of [what it’s like] to have co-workers,” Messick said. “[You] have to serve customers and try to get them to come back.”

For Jeffers, he finds that working at UA Rise gives him a fundamental understanding for being a part of a business.

“I feel like this is the best way to prepare for actually getting a real job outside of school because… it pretty much is a business so you get to do the basics of it.”