Study, Work, Repeat: Alumni Reminisce About the Jobs They Held While Attending IU

In the Summer/Fall 2022 issue of the IU Alumni Magazine, readers wrote in about their work experiences while students at IU. Our inbox was filled with amazing stories. You’ll read about a student who got paid to read Playboy, an epic cafeteria food fight, and how a sorority house waiter used to put on “skits” at Friday dinner.

Like Father, Like Daughter

Rob Huber with his daughter, Laura, at IU orientation. Courtesy photo.

Work-study was part of my financial aid package at IU to help with out-of-state tuition. I was blessed to get a job in the Office of the Registrar. I went in usually once a day for an hour or two to file and shred.

Fast forward to 2012. I brought my daughter, Laura Huber, BS’17, out for a college visit. Coincidentally, the woman who showed us around the School of Informatics was a former coworker of mine. She told us about an informatics camp that summer. My daughter got accepted to the camp and subsequently fell in love with IU. She also got a part-time work-study job in the Office of the Registrar. Laura now works in the IU IT department on Big Red 200.

—Rob Huber, BS’85

Risqué Reads

Front cover of the March 1977 issue of Playboy. Courtesy of the Lilly Library.

Part of my financial aid package included the opportunity to take advantage of IU Bloomington’s work-study program. I had three different jobs from 1973 to 1977. My absolute favorite was being a page at the Lilly Library. What a gem on campus. Of course, as a 19-year-old business major, I had little appreciation for its contents. My job was to retrieve rare books [from] the stacks. There was down time where it was acceptable to do homework while getting paid, which I did until I discovered the rare collection of Playboy magazines, including the first edition with Marilyn Monroe as the centerfold! I wasted many hours reading those, or maybe I didn’t waste it as I was still enhancing my education, right? This was WAY before the internet. Great memories!

—Virginia Gerrity Zierk, BS’77

Live from Control Room 9

Tony Perkins—third row, far left—and Josh Fine—middle row, second from the right—with fellow station members. Courtesy photo.

Tony Perkins, BA’80, and I worked as schedule directors, or SDs, at WTIU—the public television station in the Radio-Television Building on campus in Bloomington. The job of the SD was to take all the different audio and video feeds from tape, satellite, or local sources, and put them out over the air from the small but powerful Control Room 9.

We also monitored the television output and reported any irregularities to the station manager Keith Klein, BS’66. An “irreg” could be a drop in a satellite signal or an error in spelling on the character generator that crawled across the screen with the daily schedule.

It was rumored that when SDs graduated, they did their last set of changes with their feet! I can’t comment on whether this really happened, but I can say I had a great experience as an SD for four years. As Tony put it, “It was a unique on-campus job. We were literally paid to watch television.” And the pay? About $2.90 an hour.

To this day, when we correspond, Tony and I still sign off as “ex-SD.”

—Josh Fine, BA’83

Jack of All Trades

Les Farrell (pictured right) sitting with a friend at the Rose Well House. Courtesy photo.

My father, Les Farrell, BS’34, entered IU during the Great Depression. He was the son of tenant farmers. To make tuition, he waited tables at a fraternity, had a newspaper route, and had a floating craps game.

—Kay Farrell Winkel, BA’71

Healthy IU

Joyce Gilboe Klisser featured in the The Courier Tribune in September 1972. Courtesy photo.

I worked at Bloomington Hospital. Sometimes, I walked there from campus. I’m still working in health care today, now IT.

—Joyce Gilboe Klisser, BS’74

Campus Newlyweds

A recent photo of Jon Charles and Louise Ann Kaeuper. Courtesy photo.

Our decision to marry during our junior year at IU presented some new opportunities and challenges, following our short honeymoon to the Smoky Mountains. With approximately $40 remaining in our pockets, we drove to campus to find jobs that might support our new lives. Within two or three days, each of us had secured jobs on campus—Louise at the Office of Scholarships and Financial Aid, headed by Edson Sample, MS’71, and Jon at the IU Bookstore in the text department.

—Jon Charles, BS’71, and Louise Ann (Krouse) Kaeuper, BS’71

Secret Keeper

One of my jobs as a student was unusual. I was a cleaning lady for a couple that lived in married housing. The husband was back in school for a graduate degree, and his wife had a teaching job in Bloomington. They had previously been out in the working world, so they had nicer furniture than most students. I even used some of their design ideas in my own first apartment. They did not have any children, but they managed to get a two-bedroom apartment. They also had a cat, even though pets were not allowed. I was told to never let anyone from management in or to mention the cat. Was this the only couple in student married housing that had a cleaning lady? My guess is, yes!

—Mary (Piepenbrok) Wathen, BA’71

Dish-Pit Pals

I worked in the IU dorm cafeterias for seven years—three years at Wright Quad and four years at Eigenmann Hall. I worked in the kitchen doing food preparation or in the dish room. The job provided us with a unique opportunity to learn professional skills, including interfacing with other employees and learning to meet the goals and tasks which were given to us by supervisory staff.

Besides the practical experience, the other students, with whom you worked, often became your good friends. Our kitchen group, numbering about 20, would often party together and meet weekly at the Ye Ole Regulator.

To this day, over 50 years later, some of us still travel some appreciable distances to get together once a year for lunch.

—Kenneth Wilk, BA’70, JD’73

Sounds of the ’60s

Richard Hood spinning records at one of the campus radio stations. Courtesy photo.

I worked at two campus radio stations. WIUS (now WIUX) was student staffed and managed. At WFIU, the official station of the university, I was a news reader and was asked to do a one-hour “popular music” show one morning a week. The station was primarily classical music. I think mine was the first and only pop show. It felt special!

—Richard Hood, BA’71

Behind the Wheel

Paul Ballard at the wheel of a campus bus in March 1973. Courtesy photo.

Bus driver for the IU Campus Bus Service was the best job on campus! As a New Englander attending college in the Midwest, it allowed me the opportunity to quickly meet and make new friends. I earned a significant portion of my tuition by working up to 20 hours per week, and it gave me a head start on a lifelong career of building and managing passenger railroads and bus systems.

In March of 1973, I drove the first-ever campus bus trip to the College Mall, as well as began my job as Bloomington Transit’s first general manger.

I regularly worked a Saturday morning shift after an early breakfast at the Waffle House with George Smerk, DBA’63, professor of transportation, and fellow School of Business students.

This campus job set the stage for my 50-plus-year career in a field I love. I will forever be grateful to IU and its Campus Bus Service.

—Paul Ballard, BS’79

Pay at the Pump

Gene Brewer pumping gas at Hartsock’s Texaco. Courtesy photo.

When I started as a freshman in the fall of 1969, I found my first job pumping gas at Hartsock’s Texaco on College Mall Road. I enjoyed the camaraderie of coworkers and the many students who frequented the gas station. I don’t remember anyone having a credit card in those days.

When my needs required me to work full time, I was hired on at General Electric on the west side of town, making refrigerators on the assembly line. I worked second shift, allowing me to continue as a full-time student. I worked at GE my whole freshman year. I felt separated from college life, but the pay was good.

My sophomore year, I scored a fun part-time job as a janitor in the girl’s dorm in Wright Quad. I also started working part-time as a dental assistant in a local dental office. I continued as a dental assistant through my junior year when I was accepted into the IU School of Dentistry. It was nice to get through undergrad with almost no debt.

—Gene Brewer, DDS’76

Night Shift

In August of 1968, I married my lifelong partner. We returned to Bloomington that fall for our senior year and sought jobs to supplement our income. We got hired as host/hostess at The Big Wheel restaurant for the 4 p.m. to midnight shift Sunday through Thursday. We shared the job. It was a hard job physically as we were on our feet for eight hours. Not only did we operate the cash register, but we seated people and bussed tables, and even took orders at times.

On Monday mornings, we had an early microbiology lecture. It was tough to make [it to class] as we really needed rest. So, we worked out a “deal” with another classmate. On a rotating basis, one of us went to class and took notes for the rest of us. We all passed, but it was a team effort. We both enjoyed the job at The Big Wheel, but ever since, we’ve had an everlasting appreciation for the work restaurant employees do.

—Donna Meyer, BS’69

Food Fight!

I was a freshman living at Briscoe in 1979. I took a job at the cafeteria next door, McNutt, so as not to be so embarrassed wearing the hairnet and checkerboard smock.

One day, the residents were very restless. All was fine when I went into the kitchen, but a minute later [when I returned], the dining room was engulfed in an all-out food fight. Food, plates, silverware, cups, and more were being hurled across the room. I immediately did an about face, clocked out, and never put that smock or hairnet on again.

My second job was a keypunch operator at the Indiana Geological Survey. I worked for Robert Blakely, PhD’74. It was a rather mundane job, but I was able to work on my own, when I wanted, and with little supervision. The major project I worked on was to transfer all well (oil, water, gas) data stored on handwritten cards to digital. When I saw that graduation was soon approaching, and I wasn’t going to complete the task in time, I convinced Blakely to hire my future wife, Maureen (Zrobek) Duncan, BS’83. Well, we got it done with time to spare. I bring this up, because our son, Matthew Duncan, BA’16, worked in the same department 30-plus years later.

—Steve Duncan, BS’84

Maintenance Man

I was told there was an opening for house boy at the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority. I applied. They set me up with an interview with the house mother. I knew I was in the right place when she said that I would have hard jobs, like screwing in light bulbs. My job furnished three meals a day and enough money to pay my rent, with a dollar left over every two weeks.

—Michael Jordan, BS’62

Reach for the Stars

During my initial days at IU in early September 1966, I asked my counselor what work-study programs were available. He said there was an opening with the Indiana Asteroid Program in the Department of Astronomy. Since I was planning to major in astrophysics, this seemed like the perfect job for me.

From September 1966 to July 1970, I worked on the Indiana Asteroid Program earning $1.10 per hour. Director Dee Owings,’62, was the perfect boss, and I learned a lot about asteroids, astrometry, and life from her.

—Michael Weasner, BS’70

Game Changer

I spent four great years working at WTIU and Radio and Television Services. Emerson “Mickey” Klein, Barry Zimmerman, BS’73, and Steve Solie, BA’83, were my mentors. As a freshman, I was working as a parabolic mic operator for ESPN when Anthony Thompson, BGS’02, broke the NCAA touchdown record. From that moment, my future in sports production was decided. I spent 25 years in that business until a career shift brought me to Lake Tahoe and a new opportunity in vacation rental management.

—Tim Golobic, BA’93

Paperboy Chronicles

I had several jobs in Bloomington. Because of the U.S. recession around 1975 (OPEC oil embargo), [the only job] I could find was as a motor route deliverer for the Indy Star. It paid $13 a week. Gas was 75 cents a gallon. The $100 in tips received at Christmas made it worthwhile.

I was also an attendant at the 10th Street stadium. I signed people up for the indoor tennis courts and kept people off the gymnastic equipment (which never happened). I got paid to shoot hoops and bang a tennis ball against the wall. I did have to work during the 1976 IU men’s basketball championship game.

—Chuck Tuschling, BS’78

For the Kids

In the 1970s, IU nursing students could work for pay as nursing assistants after passing specific clinical rotations. I worked many night and weekend shifts at Riley Hospital for Children. The nursing supervisors’ office (where we received our shift assignments) was located at the end of a dark hallway that was lined with old “iron lungs.” These relics of the 1950s polio epidemic always reminded me of standing in line as a child for the oral polio vaccine and the restrictions that we endured during that epidemic. This employment opportunity at IU provided memorable, valuable learning experiences that served me well during my 50-year nursing career.

—Beverly (Piper) Giordano, BS’71

Work-School Balance

What started out as a summer job at the Richmond City Street Department turned into a full-time job during my years at IU East. Yep, my GPA definitely suffered. IU East didn’t offer four-year degrees at that time, so my “summer job” came to an end when I finished my last two years in Bloomington. Wouldn’t trade that entire scenario. I’m now retired from a career in manufacturing supervision, management, and quality engineering.

—Bill Berry, BS’77

Bars of Bloomington

Nick’s English Hut. Courtesy photo.

I had the privilege of living, studying, and working in Bloomington during the wild and crazy 1970s. To finance my education and fund a generous consumption of pizza and beer, I relied on a variety of part-time jobs. I worked several work-study jobs: GRC dining hall dishwasher, Aley Hall language assistant, and MAC stagehand. My most memorable job was as a bartender at Time Out on Walnut Street.

Time Out was owned by Archie Dees, BS’58. The front bar catered to locals and served copious pre-craft brews (served in long-necks of course). Country music blared from the jukebox. The rear area was your typical college town bar and featured an eclectic mix of live music. It was a counterpoint to the nearby disco-oriented Ye Ole Regulator. After a late night at Time Out, my coworkers and I would trundle off to Bruce’s or The Hour House for some high-calorie chow.

—John House, BA’77, MS’78

Bittersweet Employment

I entered IU in 1949, and my first three years were consumed by being a student-athlete, which ended in 1952 by a mild case of polio contracted on a football road trip to Pittsburgh.

I still had a couple semesters to finish, so I thought it best to find a campus job to supplement my athletic scholarship. In 1953, I applied for a job with Nick’s English Hut as a waiter/bartender. I interviewed with the original owner, Nick Hrisomalos, and was hired. My first day on the job was to be St. Patrick’s Day 1953. I appeared as scheduled and found a wreath on the door—Nick had passed away. I was the last person Nick hired.

After a couple days of mourning, I again appeared for my job. Nick’s wife, Tina, and their son Frank, MD’56, took over management of Nick’s. Frank and Tina took a liking to me, and I quickly had as many hours as I wanted.

—Gerald “Jerry” Anderson, BS’54

Shooting Pool

In September 1958, I was hired for the 4–11 p.m. shift at the Indiana Memorial Union Billiard Room. I was told that I was the highest paid hourly student at $1.95 per hour. In 1961, I won the intercollegiate three-cushion billiard championship at Kansas State University.

—William Ervin, BS’61, LLB’64

‘Santa’ B Wells

The Towersingers performing at Alumni Hall with President Herman B. Wells dressed as Santa. Courtesy photo.

During my junior and senior years at IU, our Five-Gaited Trio played Friday and Saturday nights at the downtown Stardust, where students, faculty, and townspeople would gather for an evening of food, drinks, and entertainment. Our trio included Tom Bibb, BS’57, on piano; Al Teagle, BS’56, JD’59, on the drums; and myself, who played various saxes and the clarinet.

On campus, my work experiences included a counselor position at Tower Quadrangle—the first coed dorm at IU. I organized and directed the Towersingers that won the IU Sing in 1960. The Towersingers also performed at Christmas Eve on campus in the Union. One year, I invited President Herman B Wells, BS’24, MA’27, LHD’62, (aka “Santa” B Wells, who appeared annually at the celebration to pass out candy) to shake sleigh bells while we performed Leroy Anderson’s “Sleigh Ride.” After he accepted the invitation, I remember spending a lot of time traveling around Brown County, Ind., searching for a set of authentic sleigh bells for the president to use.

—Charles Schwartz, BS’57, MM’60, PhD’66

Wash and Fold

I worked every summer at the laundry run by the Halls of Residence office. The laundry was located on the lower floor of Morrison Hall, and it held very large washers and dryers, as well as an iron for drapes. The ironer was around 6 feet long with rollers that we fed drapes into. The laundry was not air conditioned, so it was very hot.

Each day, a truck dropped off bags of dirty dish cloths, drapes, mattress pads, and chair cushion covers. There were two full-time staff members who ran the laundry, and each summer three students were added. I remember how excited I was to cash my first two-week paycheck for about $180.

After three summers at the laundry, I was able to get a job working in the sewing room at the Halls of Residence office. There, I learned to make the chair cushion covers that I had been laundering during the previous summers.

—Marsha Turner-Shear, BS’78, MA’83, EdD’92

ER Romance

Meek family photo. Kyle Meek (far left), Julie Meek (middle), Ted Meek (back row, middle), and Brian Meek (far right). Courtesy photo.

I took a job as an emergency room technician at Community Hospital in Indianapolis. There was no certification necessary back in 1969. It was fun, interesting, and paid $1.93 an hour.

I met my wife, Julie (Lukens) Meek, PhD’93, in the ER just before I graduated in 1972. We were married two years later. Our oldest son, Kyle Meek, BA’00, and our youngest son, Brian Meek, MD’08, earned degrees from IU.

It all started as a job to buy gas and afford the occasional pizza date. I would say things turned out pretty great, thanks to IU.

—Ted Meek, BA’72

Spiral Bound

Group photo of Business/SPEA library staff in 1989. Patty Steinberger Zanghi is pictured second row, left. Courtesy photo.

I worked in the Business/SPEA library in the late 1980s. My job as a “bindery assistant” required me to prep business journals and periodicals to be sent off and bound into books. The only negative part of the job was card-catalog filing.

—Patty Steinberger Zanghi, BA’89

Blizzard of 1978

Photo taken during the blizzard of 1978. Courtesy of IU Archives.

I was a part-time student employee in the Willkie Quad cafeteria. During the second semester of my junior year, on Jan. 26, 1978, I was scheduled for the breakfast shift, so I was up sufficiently early to work the serving line when the cafeteria opened at 6:45 a.m. I didn’t open the curtains to check the weather because I didn’t want to awaken my roommate. I rode the elevator from the 11th floor to the lobby, only to be greeted by a blizzard. Classes were canceled both Jan. 26 and Jan. 27, but with a crew of nothing more than part-time student workers—as I recall, no adult employees or supervisors showed up that morning—the Willkie dining hall opened on time and served the planned menu for all three meals that day. With music (no doubt disco) from a local radio station piped in at full volume, the cafeteria served as the social gathering spot for the snowbound residents of Willkie Quad.

—Tony Willis, BA’79, MS’82

Cleanup Crew

I was an intramural referee. I had so much fun refereeing flag football games as well as basketball games. To this day, I remember being selected to referee, in my second year, the championship flag football game.

My other job was sweeping the football stadium after IU football games. Getting up early on a Sunday morning as a student was challenging, but sweeping the stadium was an interesting experience.

—Edward Alpert, BS’74

Dinner and a Show

I was a waiter at the Sigma Delta Tau sorority house. We ate well and had a lot of fun with the women of the sorority. We waited tables, of course, but also did things like put on “skits” at Friday dinner. Once, we put on a skit, [dressed as women], in which we acted out what the dates of some of the members would be like over the ensuing weekend. The results were hilarious.

—Thomas Bock, BS’71

Got Milk?

I went to IU knowing that I would have to work to help with expenses. I moved into Dunn House and worked in the cafeteria. I had the job of keeping the milk dispensers full. The containers of milk weighed about 60 pounds and had to be lifted to chest height to be inserted into the dispenser. For working one meal a day, I got free room and board.

—Thomas Rea, BA’55, MD’58

Written By
IUAA Staff