welcome desk

A worker at the welcome desk in the Nebraska Union at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln answers a student's question on Wednesday, Jan. 9, 2019, in Lincoln, Nebraska.

The students sitting at the Nebraska Union welcome desk or taking orders at the union Starbucks may seem like regular student workers, but they beat out many others for the chance to greet visitors or make lattes.

Brent Freeman, senior assistant director of operations, manages 154 jobs between the campus unions and the Children's Center.

The positions attract a surplus of applicants, and Freeman said he typically sees 50-60 applicants for each new school year during the spring and summer to fill five to eight positions.

He said he believes the jobs are popular because of their flexibility, and that one of the most popular jobs is the welcome desk ambassador position.

“Students can walk from their job to their classes,” he said. “They tend to like that convenience.”

Freeman said this can draw people to jobs at the unions.

Mary Heng, a senior global studies and Spanish double major, also said she enjoys the flexible schedule.

The union is open for 17 hours during weekdays, so students can easily find shifts that work with their schedule.

Freeman said he wants his students to have the full Husker experience, so he schedules shifts around clubs and extracurricular activities as well as classes.

He was also proud of the community the jobs have created.

“We have a family atmosphere on the team,” he said.

He said the atmosphere creates a space where employees feel comfortable switching shifts and helping each other out when things go awry, something welcome desk ambassador Mary Heng agreed with.

Heng is on her second semester as a welcome desk ambassador.

“I love working here,” she said. “I wish I would have worked here longer than just my senior year.”

Freeman said the welcome desk ambassadors also enjoy their job because no two days are the same.

“We train them to be a hub of information for campus and Lincoln,” he said. “If they don’t know the answer, they use their resources to find out.”

Heng said she has yet to be completely stumped by someone’s question.

“Answers are always online or a phone call away,” she said. “That way if I don’t know an answer, I know where to direct them.”

Heng said her typical day combines customer service with study time.

Heng said this ability to be an involved student is what drew her to the job after hearing from her friends that it was fun.

“It’s also a good way to get to know the university better,” she said. “I’ve learned a lot about different organizations that have different things happening here.”