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Dried-up opportunities: Bartending students see varied success finding work

Lack of registered parties on campus means fewer jobs for students certified by two-day BSA class

By
Staff Writer
Thursday, November 16, 2017

Brown students could be serving drinks before they can be served themselves: Within just two days, students can learn bartending through a Brown Student Agencies course offered five times per semester. While some students have found success in applying their new expertise, others have struggled to find bartending work.

Students earn their Training for Intervention ProcedureS certification after completing the course, allowing them to work as a bartender for events on campus registered with the Student Activities Office as well as at private establishments.

“It’s a hands-on training,” said Bob Hart, the class instructor and an advanced wine- and spirit-certified bartender. “In the class, we learn how to mix some popular drinks,” he said, adding that they use colored water in the course to practice mixing the cocktails.

Michael Kearney ’20, who took the course last April, used his certification to work for Brown Catering Services during the 2017 commencement week and now works for a private catering service in Rhode Island. “It’s my primary source of income,” Kearney said.

But other students have not seen as much success in finding employment.

There were more on-campus work opportunities when the program first began, said Kelsey Brown ’18, executive director of the BSA. Since then, there have been fewer registered parties on campus, with about 10 occurring last year, she added.

“It’s hard to have bartenders if there are no events,” Brown said. “We do tell people that the TIPS certificate is able to be used off campus, and that’s what we would encourage people to do” she said. “I do wish there was some way we could increase the number of opportunities, but until people feel more comfortable registering parties, there’s not a whole lot we can do to get people employed,” she added.

“We try our best to find on-campus jobs for students,” said Yutong Liu ’20, a campus services manager for the BSA. When jobs become available, they invite registered students, hiring on a first-come first-serve basis.

“I unfortunately wasn’t able to get anything over the summer,” said Daniel Traver ’20, who also took the course in spring 2017. He bartended at a family event over the summer, but no on-campus opportunities have come his way. “I filled out the form last year to work at Brown at the bartending events, but I haven’t heard anything about it,” he added.

Michael Gold ’20, who took the course in fall 2016, said that BSA has not been effective at connecting students with opportunities. BSA advertises the course “as an opportunity to work as a bartender for Brown,” but “since being on the listserv, I think I’ve seen about five e-mails with opportunities for students to work,” he said.

Hart emphasized that the class is introductory and intended to expose students to bartending, giving them the skills to pursue work in a variety of venues.

“It’s a really easily applicable certification,” Brown said. “This is a great opportunity for students to get certified — and to get certified at a price that’s much more reasonable than a lot of other organizations.”

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