Worcester Polytechnic Institute – Worcester, MA
Lisa has been attending HMEA’s employment services program since 2013! When we first spoke with Lisa, she was working at Panera Bread’s Millbury, MA location. At Panera, her primary tasks were to clean the dining room, wash dishes, and train new employees. Today, she’s working at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in one of their residential buildings. We caught up with Lisa to see what she’s been up to.
Why did you leave Panera?
There are a bunch of reasons why I left Panera. When the COVID-19 pandemic began, I wasn’t able to work due to restaurants being shut down. However, I also wanted to be in a different atmosphere from where I was before, and I wanted to try something more challenging.
How did you get involved with WPI?
While I was looking for jobs on Indeed.com, I found a job listing from Chartwells, the company that manages dining at WPI. I read the job description and thought I’d be a good fit, so I applied and let my job developer at HMEA know. We set up an interview, and the rest is history!
Tell us about what you do at WPI.
At WPI, I work at Founder’s Hall, which is one of the residential buildings. I work in the Goat’s Head cafeteria. My main tasks are to keep the dining room clean and stocked, including the soda machine. I’m also prepping food when students have online orders to pick up, including salads, pastries, and snacks. This is something new for me, and it’s challenging, but I enjoy it.
Recently, one of my newest tasks has been to help stock the MELT Lab, which is across from Goat’s Head. The MELT Lab is open every night Monday-Friday, and they offer fresh soup, made-to-order grilled cheese, snacks, drinks, etc.
What’s your favorite thing about working at WPI?
Honestly, it’s just a great place to be. Everyone’s friendly and helpful there, including my supervisor, Jenna. Whenever I want to try something new, she’s willing to train me and have me help out in any way I can.
My favorite part about working at WPI is prepping food because it’s a skill I haven’t been able to work on before. For example, when we’re preparing salads, we have to make sure we have the correct ingredients and labels, and that the food isn’t outdated. We also need to make sure the salads are refrigerated so they stay fresh.
On top of that, I love getting weekends and summers off!
How did your experience at Panera prepare you for this job?
Working at Panera was my first time in a customer service role, so that experience has been a huge benefit. I’ve also been able to take the skills I’ve learned and use them in this new job, from cleaning skills to working with management.
WPI is similar to Panera in that they’re both fast-paced environments. The only difference is that I now work with mostly students.
How does it feel to work with students?
The students are so nice and friendly! My background is Middle Eastern, and I speak Arabic, so if I see students who are Middle Eastern, I’ll talk to them and start a conversation with them.
Do you need to take any safety precautions while you’re at work?
Yes – we get tested on a weekly basis for COVID-19, and I wear a mask while I’m working.
Do you have any big summer plans?
WPI’s spring semester ends May 4th, and the residence halls will close for the summer. I’ll mainly be relaxing throughout the summer until school starts back up in the fall. That said, I’m also taking a food safety course and will be studying for my exam so I can get certified.
What do you like to do outside of work?
I love spending time outdoors! Whether I’m going for a walk or traveling around the globe, I’m an outdoors person at heart. I also love to spend time with my niece and nephew.
Where’s your favorite place to travel?
California, where my cousins live! I also enjoyed visiting Jordan, where my parents are originally from.