Need Some Dough? Knead Some Dough!: An Interview with Jackson Emanuel, the Baker’s Assistant.
Jackson, a current Sophomore, started working at the Bakery the Winter Semester of his freshman year. Jackson learned of the job through a friend who was working in Commons at the time and knew of an open position he could fill. “If you want a job in Dining Services, the person to contact is Darlene Zupancic, just shoot her an email and she will let you know if anything is available.”
Being a big fan of Commons desserts, Jackson knew he wanted to get a closer look at the process and see what he could learn by working at the Bakery. “I remember the application process was really straightforward and simple. The only things you really need are time, a Work Authorization Card, and a desire to work.”
Student workers in the Bakery such as Jackson work around six hours a week, and are primarily responsible for arranging baked goods onto serving trays. Depending on what needs to be done on a particular day, this can include removing cookies from baking sheets, cutting pies, removing muffins from muffin pans, and other small tasks. When finished with arranging, Jackson will often spend the last hour of his shift assisting the bakers by scooping muffin mix, drizzling, cleaning kitchenware and weighing ingredients. “Although it takes a little while to learn your way around,” says Jackson, “it’s not a hard job and there’s always something helpful you can do.”
When asked if Jackson had any interesting stories to tell, he responded that “At some point, I was told that I was going to use a blowtorch and I thought they were joking. Later during my shift, I actually used a blowtorch to make these metal pans expand so as to remove the cheesecake they contained. It was cool, especially because I genuinely didn’t expect it.”
Naturally, working at a bakery has some excellent perks. “The smell of fresh bread and cookies, for one. Sometimes you get a treat or two to take back with you after your shift as well.” Of course, the perk Jackson appreciates the most is working with the Bakery staff, “they make it a really warm and friendly atmosphere. Also, it’s always nice to see someone’s face brighten up when they enjoy some fresh food you helped prepare.”
While Jackson states that he doesn’t think that working in the bakery will directly impact his prospective career as a biochemist, he believes the practical work experience he has gained is extremely valuable and will be helpful anywhere. “I think it can sometimes be frustrating when what I learn in the classroom becomes too nebulous and theoretical. It’s nice, on occasion, to take a break from that and perform a concrete task with a tangible end result.” Since getting his job, Jackson feels as if his perspective on life has changed and he attributes at least a piece of that to work. This is because “doing real work, like cooking or cleaning, really makes you feel like a part of a community.”
Jackson feels as if his work in food preparation has really helped him develop a healthy common sense when approaching problems. “Instead of looking at a task in terms of a literal list of rules, I feel like I’ve gotten better at seeing how each part of job goes to shape the end result. Recipes, like life I suppose, involves a lot of experimentation in order to get the proportions of all the ingredients just right. Sometimes a silly mistake, like forgetting to use baking spray, will come back to haunt you when everything sticks to the pan.” Although the job may put Jackson in a sticky situation every once in a while, he really enjoys making some dough by making some dough.