The Book Keeper.

By Taylor Weik

Mornings and evenings now require warm sweatshirts and jeans, restaurants and cafes at the University Town Center have more business than ever, and the once abandoned campus during the summer days of UCI is now flooded with eager students. Such are the signs of a school in full-swing for fall quarter. And with the start of a brand new school year comes the sea of students challenging campus workers with their hunger, thirst and need for course books.

One such worker is Michael Tam, a first-year political science major employed at UCI’s Bookstore, specializing in Coursebooks. Working since this summer after his sister suggested he apply, Michael spends his shifts organizing the coursebooks based on the departments, shipping online orders, and helping students and their parents locate the books they need.

“I enjoy the atmosphere,” Michael said.  “It’s nice and quiet, and all the workers here are friendly and willing to help one another. I feel like a part of a family.”

Besides the atmosphere of the store and the pay (what college student doesn’t appreciate some much-needed money?), Michael also enjoys the flexibility of working. He works 12 hours a week and says the store is very understanding of their students’ hectic schedules. “The store keeps a record of our schedules and they try to work around them to where it’s easier for us.”

And the  least favorite part of his job? “Desk work,” Michael immediately responds, laughing. “I’m more in my element when I’m active, running around with books and filling orders. I dislike being confined to a desk and chair.”

Even so, Michael can’t complain when “fall rush” ensues. “Business is generally slow, but at the beginning of each quarter the store is hectic, what with people scrambling to find their new books.”

Being a student worker has definitely changed Michael for the better. “I’ve learned to plan ahead and manage my time well, since the store is pretty strict on shift times,” Michael said. “I’ve also grown to be a more patient person by catering to others’ needs and figuring out exactly what books they need. And I discovered that I love working with people. I love the feeling that follows when I help someone out.”

Whether it’s brewing drinks or locating books, it is clear that the student workers at UCI are passionate about what they do and are proud to be doing it. “I could have the glamorous job of a Starbucks barista or be working alongside ASUCI as an intern, but I love my job at the bookstore,” Michael gushes. “And I wouldn’t have it any other way.”