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student chefs at WSU

Student Employees Hone Skills in SMIT Program

College is a time of self-exploration. For many students, the idea of beginning a new chapter of life away at college is intimidating. One thought is consistent among the majority of students—how do I get the work experience that is so highly desired in the workforce?  Luckily, WSU Dining Services offers many opportunities to gain professional experience prior to graduation.

One of these opportunities is the Student Manager in Training Program offered through Dining Services. This semester-long program is designed to train students how to run a safe and effective shift while in a supervisory position.

Student Manager Karman Bean explained how the SMIT program has taught her to be patient, how to work with other people’s management styles and how to think on her feet. Bean is an environmental science major at WSU, which makes her involvement in the SMIT program all the more unique.

“I saw the red shirts around the dining halls and it made me wonder,” Bean said. She explained how she naturally tends to fall into management roles, so being a part of the program seemed like a good fit for her.

Catering Manager Gary Thoren described the student managers as upper management’s “right hand-man.”

“I look for people who are calm. I need to know that if I’m not there and something happens they can stay calm under pressure,” Thoren said.

“The program has gone through a couple of facelifts over the years, but the concepts hold true,” said Associate Manager Jacqui Lacroix. Lacroix participated in the SMIT program when she was a student and is currently working for Dining Services. “SMIT set me up for a career in management, and I think there are definitely parallels to all of the students for them to get into management in their respective fields,” she said.

Qualifications for the SMIT program vary based on location, but overall the program is looking for students who stay on top of their school work, have dining center experience, and can work under pressure. Students in the program usually work an average of 25 hours per week, including mandatory classes they must attend as part of SMIT.

Lacroix said, “If someone is looking to come out of their shell, gain some leadership experience and make some money, the SMIT program is a very good tool to use for that.”

According to Bean, “It’s more responsibility, but it’s worth it.”