What in the world are you still doing on campus?
“I’m an ESSC Front Office employee. We make all the arrangements for student affairs. That means enrolment, graduation, exams, the Language and Training Centre, you name it. You could say we act as a kind of intermediary for the faculties. This is my third year here, and before I came here I had a similar job at the economics faculty.”
What’s it like to work here in the summer?
“Well, the first thing I’d say is that it’s extremely warm. The ambient temperature in this building leaves much to be desired. They say the air conditioning is on, but it certainly doesn’t feel that way. As the weeks of summer pass by, it gets quieter on campus, but you see just the opposite at our service desk. You could say we drew the short straw.”
“The telephone is ringing off the hook. Students come to us with their questions about exam resits, degrees, payments, transcripts. New students show up at the service desk with their luggage and parents in tow, and then we have to make arrangements for them. The summer weeks are hell, but they’re fun weeks of hell.”
What’s a good example of something that happens during the ‘weeks of hell’?
“Here’s a good illustration: we have to re-enrol 28,000 students – for around half of them, everything is in order and it goes off without a hitch. For the rest, we have to call them or e-mail them because something went wrong. Their BSA wasn’t forwarded to us, we can’t use the identity photo they provided, they didn’t receive our e-mails or they deleted them. All kinds of problems crop up.
“I just looked up the figures for last year. In August we received 4,700 WhatsApp message and 6,000 e-mails. In July we had 2,700 WhatsApp messages and countless students at the service desk. In total, we processed 30,000 requests. And if that wasn’t challenging enough, each faculty has its own rules on how matters are supposed to be dealt with.”
How do you survive the ‘weeks of hell’?
“We have five extra team members during the entire summer. Normally, the team consists of only six people. The five extra hands are students who work for us to earn some extra cash on the side during the summer. They start around the middle of June, just before things get really hectic, so we can properly prepare them for the work. They stay with us until mid-September. No summer holidays for them.”
“But as I said, it’s also enjoyable work. You create a close-knit team, and the vast majority of the students – some of whom have a look of panic in their eyes when they arrive – leave with a smile in the end. It’s satisfying to see that.
So when do you get a break?
“I’m going to one of the Greek islands in September to catch my breath. Nothing but rest and relaxation so I can recover. It’s something I really need to do after the summer.”