“It’s A Latte Work”, an Interview with Ronj Manager, Max Pendergast

Although the Student Employment Office has looked into the life of the Ronj Barista before, the position of Ronj manager had yet to be explored through interview. Therefore, this week we sat down with Max Pendergast, current Junior at Bates College and one of the three Ronj managers this year, to learn what it takes to manage the college’s most beloved coffee shop.

Max was hired as a manager this year, rising from the ranks of her previous position of Ronj barista, a job she has had since her sophomore year. “I had many friends who worked at the Ronj before me and it became a second home where I could work or eat or hang out with a delicious latte,” says Max, and therefore she wanted to have the opportunity to invest her time into the Ronj, keeping it running as the cozy place every student can enjoy.

After Max had been working at the Ronj for a year, she applied to be one of its managers. Instead of just being interviewed by the previous Ronj managers, like she had done for her barista position at the Ronj, Max had an interview with Lee Seguin and Keith Tannenbaum and had to submit a written application as well.

As a manager, Max’s primary task for this job is stocking the Ronj. “We get products from many different places and in many different ways. I get the milk from Walmart, the candy and food from BJs, and the pretzels and popcorn from Axis. I order our chai and syrups from Bev Tech to be delivered the next day, and when Lewiston Local comes around I order and sometimes do the pick-up,” says Max. She also handles the finances of the Ronj by making sure the coffee shop has the money it needs to stock everything and turning in the profits on a weekly basis. When she’s not stocking, Max tries “to stay tuned to everything going on with the baristas and make sure it’s all running smoothly! That means emails, opening the Ronj on occasion, coming in during shifts and checking in with the baristas, and then working my shift when it comes around.” Between regular shifts and stocking, Max works between 5-8 hours a week.

When asked if she had any good stories to share about her time at the Ronj, Max replied that “A lot of funny things have happened, but the thing that sticks out in my mind the most would be the slower Saturday afternoon shifts where me and Rusty (a former manager, now graduated) would play LIFE and drink strange drink concoctions we had invented.” On a personal note, one of my favorite invented drinks from the Ronj include the Nutella Fitzgerald and the Dark Shadow Forest Beverage, which Ronj baristas have extremely strict guidelines for (for example, it must be served in a dark mug, “naturally,” says previous Ronj interviewee Barbara VanDerburgh).

Max’s favorite part of working as a Ronj Manager is the fact that it gives her “the experience and professionalism of legitimate management” while also getting to work with her friends and peers. She has also learned quite a bit during her time at the coffee shop. “In addition to learning how to manage and balances a business’s finances,” Max has also “learned how to work with many different kinds of people with many different working styles, developed a consistent pattern and schedule for myself so things get done on time both for myself and the Ronj as a whole” and have learned how to communicate with “many people in the professional world for our equipment, orders, issues, etc.” including the commons kitchen, a partner Max feels the Ronj is “very fortunate” to have.

When asked if she thinks her job may help her in her future careers, Max answered that “though my career path is a beautiful haze (a Theater and English double major makes the world a confusing oyster), I know I will take the fun professionalism that I have learned from the Ronj.” Through her job, Max has also learned a bit about herself and her working style. “I have learned that I appreciate consistency. I also learned that if I don’t write something down I’ll never remember! I’ve learned that I like helping other people’s ideas much better than coming up with my own.”

There you have it. If you find yourself in the position of Ronj Manager, you are likely to learn quite a bit, all while enjoying the place you work and the people in it. And even if you’re not the manager, you can always come down to the Ronj to enjoy the drinks and people as well. You just won’t get paid for it