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Bursting the bubble: students find jobs in Brunswick

September 21, 2018

Finding a job at the Wildflours Gluten-Free Bakery in downtown Brunswick allowed Ripley Mayfield ’19 to break out of the Bowdoin bubble and enjoy multiple social spheres. And she’s not the ony one who has found joy and respite from Bowdoin with a job in town.

“I applied last spring [to Wildflours] and worked there over the summer doing farmers’ markets twice a week for them, and now I’m still doing farmers’ markets and sometimes on Saturday working in the bakery,” said Mayfield. “And I really, really love it, it’s been such a positive experience.”

Anne Gregory ’19 works at Frontier Cafe Cinema & Gallery as a bartender, barista and hostess. Gregory started working there during her sophomore year when she wanted to get work experience in the service industry.

David Fix ’21 joined Gregory and the Frontier staff just two-and-a-half weeks ago. After working at a restaurant over the summer, he wanted to continue working in a similar environment through the school year.

But Gregory and Fix aren’t just developing their professional skills. What Gregory enjoys most are the new connections she is making.

“Working at Frontier is really special and important to me. It really feels like a family there,” Gregory said.

Fix particularly enjoys the break from Bowdoin.

“I usually am craving just getting off campus after a week spent working hard here,” he said. “I just want to kind of get a breath of fresh air.”

Off-campus jobs also mean forming new and different friendships. “I think it’s so fun to have coworkers who are 35, 40 years old,” said Mayfield. “You get to form friendships with people out of your age group, which just doesn’t really happen here.”

These relationships also enable students to learn more about the area. “I’ve talked to other people [about] how they lived all over different parts of Maine, how Brunswick compares to those places, what they like about this type of small town atmosphere as opposed to living in a big city,” said Fix. “I guess that’s kind of changed my perception a lot.”

Coordinating hours at off-campus jobs with a Bowdoin schedule can be difficult, as work schedules are often determined several weeks in advance.

“It’s definitely hard to balance having school commitments and having off-campus job commitments … It’s kind of hard to be more spontaneous. But in general it’s totally worth it,” said Gregory.

Mayfield also thinks this lack of flexibility isn’t a significant burden. “I also work a Wednesday afternoon shift and I specifically sacrificed taking some Wednesday afternoon classes to keep doing that because I felt a really strong loyalty to them and I didn’t want to make my boss find another person,” she said. “I really did not expect to like my coworkers so much … the personal gains I’m getting out of it are so great.”

Fix thinks his schedule has not been too stringent. “Frontier has been especially accommodating compared to places I’ve worked in the past,” he said. “I think they understand that we are college students.”

Having a car makes transport easier but is not necessary for working in town. While Gregory and Mayfield both drive to their workplace, Fix, who has a car, often opts to walk to work down Maine Street instead.

“Usually the walk there and back is in itself very refreshing and enjoyable,” he said. “I usually am smiling walking back when I see people run into each other on the street and strike up a conversation.”

Off-campus jobs and on-campus jobs are similar in many ways, but working in town provides something more for these students: a space for freedom and growth.

“When you spend all of your time in the same one square mile radius, it can sometimes feel a little bit like you don’t know who you are outside of that space,” said Mayfield. “I think that’s why I wanted an off campus job, just to feel like my life was a little more diversified.”

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