In June 2020, hundreds of Michigan State’s Division of Residential & Hospitality Services (RHS) team members were put on furlough due to the COVID-19 pandemic’s financial impact on the campus. With few residence halls being occupied on campus and only a few classes being offered in person, there was a major cutback both revenue and the need to provide certain services RHS normally provides throughout the MSU campus.
Many RHS team members were left feeling lost without their regular positions. However, by September, a plan to place previously furloughed team members into bonus jobs (positions previously filled by students) began as part of the furlough agreements with the unions across campus. Many employees would return to MSU’s campus in units that they had not worked in before. People who once worked in buildings largely not in use due to the pandemic were offered positions in retail, Culinary Services and facility performance services that were still necessary for Michigan State’s campus to continue operating.
Although many team members are working bonus jobs that are very different compared to their usual MSU roles, they felt relieved to still have employment opportunities during the pandemic. Employees that took on bonus jobs have had positive experiences learning new things about the innerworkings of different departments on campus. Here are a few of their stories:
Sara Olstyn, normally a Neighborhood Administrative Coordinator managing River Trail's Service Centers, has been working at the Sparty’s Market deli this year as a bonus job. While this job seemed daunting in its differences compared to her service center job, Sara decided to accept her bonus position in at Sparty’s Market and has enjoyed her experience. She claims the work environment has been extremely warm and welcoming, and she has learned the ins-and-outs of how Culinary Services operates. Her bonus job has provided her with opportunities such as learning knife skills from a trained chef and having a voice when it comes to ideas for the menu at Sparty’s Market.
“There are so many bonuses to my bonus job” Olstyn says. “It was not easy at first, but I am so happy to be where I am. I love that everyone I work with pours creativity and love from their heart into the food they serve daily to our Spartans.”
Another employee enjoying a new bonus job is Jay Makowski, who now works as a facilities supervisor in MSU’s east neighborhood. After being furloughed from his job in Culinary Services as a service manager, Jay was thrilled to accept a position where he could learn some new skills. As a facilities supervisor, he is in charge of daily cleaning, sanitation and maintenance requests in Akers Hall.
“I was excited for a new opportunity to grow and learn,” says Makowski. “This position taught me how to prioritize when it comes to budget constraints and the needs of students.”
Jay and Sara both worked with other team members placed in bonus jobs within in their new work environments. Both enjoyed sharing the experience of a new position with other RHS team members also adapting to a new bonus job placement.
Bonus jobs have proven to be a great way to keep many RHS team members employed while teaching them new skills and functions that help many different MSU facilities run on a daily basis. RHS is proud of its bonus job team members’ successful experiences and strives to continue supporting their staff through an increasing amount of career opportunities.