Working for Student Life has definitely changed me. From being a dedicated member of RUPA for three years, to my poor acting stint in “The Bus” scene for New Student Orientation, and now the RutgersZone, I was able to explore different areas of the department to create a college experience different than the norm.
When I first heard about the RutgersZone I was really excited because I thought the university was bringing back the Livingston Game Room. Many of you probably don’t know what this was, but it was a tidy game room that got shut down my freshman year (four years ago). To my surprise the Game Room was not coming back but something even better was established.
In Fall 2010, I was approached by my supervisor, Matthew Ferguson, whom I worked with in RUPA, about working at the Zone. He told me a little more about the place and his vision for the Zone. I gave him my definite yes and thus began my adventure with the RutgersZone.
The RutgersZone isn’t just any job – people who work at the Zone know that it is more of an experience than anything else. I see the RutgersZone as being almost an “Entertainment 720” conglomerate- we have music, TV, movies, events, drinks, food, dessert, and more!
This is a very different on-campus job because we have a very laid back atmosphere and we even have our own mascot- “Zonie”. It’s great to work somewhere that constantly keeps you on your feet. There have been many times when we had an event sprung on us at the last minute or we’ll have three events going on at the same time – those are my favorite shifts.
The craziest event I have ever worked was one of the biggest events of the year at Rutgers. It was April 2010 and there was a campus-wide event where parents and incoming students had the chance to explore the university. That day I probably served well over 400 ice cream cones— much more than a typical Thursday Late Night.
At the time, the Zone was just getting settled so we didn’t know how much staff we would need or who would take what job. I think we had four people working and 100 people in and out of the Zone every hour. It was intense! We rushed to scoop ice cream, help people with games, and tell parents about how great Rutgers is. There was a lot to do but at the end of my shift I was finally able to get a drink (of water! There is no alcohol served at the Zone: the #1 Most Frequently Asked Question).
I stood there taking everything in— the music, the crowd, the crew, and the overall atmosphere; I didn’t see one frowning face. That was the moment that I knew I was going to have a great time at this job. Most people would just see it as just another customer service job where you serve ice cream. I realized that the RutgersZone isn’t just a place but an event. You never know what the next day is going to bring. One of my favorite things about life is that it is totally unscripted and working a job where it’s exactly like that is a great feeling.
I do have to admit though that not every day is a circus. Some of the day shifts can get a little boring when the Zone is empty, but that is where the crew comes in. I’ve been working since I was fifteen and they were all very different jobs from retail to a nursing home. The people who work in the RutgersZone are the nicest and quirkiest group of kids I have ever met. I was worried at first because the majority of the crew were freshman and I was a senior but that all changed when I got to know them all.
We got really close when we spent two whole days together at a camp for our training in January. I wasn’t really looking forward to that trip because it was my 22nd birthday, but it ended up being a really special day. I got to spend my day with 30 other people who I absolutely adore and who made me laugh the whole time. Though, when they found out my age the teasing started rolling in, and now they refer to me as “Momma Zone”.
Something that I have learned in college is to stop for a moment and think about all the things you are doing at that time and find the deeper meaning. I like to think about why I chose to do certain things and how these things will affect me in my future. It not only helps me understand life, but it also helps me love what I am doing.
Looking back at all my memories at the Zone has made me appreciate working here because I will probably never have this type of experience anywhere else. I’m really proud to say that I was a part of the first ever crew to work at the RutgersZone. I hope that with each and every year new memories are made and that everyone has as much fun working here as I have.
For more information on the RutgersZone, check out their website.
By: Jessica Kennedy