Getting a Taste of What it’s Like to be a Ronj Barista: An Interview with Barbara VanDerburgh

Although Barbara has only started working at Le Ronj this year, she has acquired multiple jobs through the Student Employment Office already. When the job listing of being a Ronj server popped up on the Student Employment Office webpage this year, Barbara decided to apply and interview for the job position.“First semester as a freshman I was a landscaper, then I worked in the vegan bar, then as a Bibliographer Student Specialist this summer, and I’m also currently a lifeguard at Tarbell.” 

Barbara’s work schedule changes week-to-week based off of what shifts she has time to fill. Usually, Barbara works around four or five hours a week at the Ronj, which suits her well since she also has a job as a lifeguard. As a barista, Barbara makes drinks, run the cash register, and keeps the workspace clean. “It’s pretty intuitive coffee shop work. I guess maintaining the chill, friendly atmosphere is the most unique part.” Making the Ronj calm and friendly is, in fact, a large part of the job. And when potential baristas are interviewed, applicants are often given odd questions so the interviewer can gauge their personality. “It seemed like the coolest job ever. It’s super close to Frye Street, you get to hang out at my favorite place on campus, and people always looked like they were having fun.” says VanDerburgh.

VanDerburgh’s favorite part of the job is “hanging out with all the people that work and study there.” When asked if she had any interesting stories to tell, she supposes that “the funniest thing that happens consistently is that I make drinks for myself that have espresso in them and then wonder why, a half an hour later, I’m buzzing off the walls.” She also likes “making milk foam with their fancy steam wand. That, or convincing somebody to try something that they then like.” Unfortunately this semester, Barbara doesn’t work during a wildcard (Mondays) or specialized night (Trivia on Thursdays), which she says would probably be her favorite part of the job if she worked those nights. Regardless, there still seems to be a lot of reasons why Barbara enjoys her job.

When asked how the job has helped her cultivate work skills and experience, Barbara enthusiastically replied “It’s always good to get experience being a barista! (especially as an English major). But in all seriousness it’s always a good exercise in interpersonal skills when you work a cash register.” Through her job, Barbara has increased her skills in monetary exchange in regards to the cash register, knows how to make small talk with the customers, and communicate with them to make sure the order is exactly what they wanted.

Although Barbara does not plan on making a career out of being a barista, she loves her job.“It’s a fun job where I can continue to build my own confidence as an employee of a friendly and funky spot on campus. Hopefully my life is full of friendly and funky things, so I guess it will perhaps guide me to an awesome future atmosphere.”