When a student accidentally locks themselves out of their car, needs a jumpstart or requests to be escorted during late hours, the UAA Parking Services is the one to answer the call.
Lisa Thayer, a recent graduate, is one of the dispatchers for parking services and has been working with them for almost three years. She began as a Call Team Officer, the person you will see most often in the parking lots.
“They go around looking for different violations that go against the regulations for the campus, and correcting those actions with citations or warnings, whatever seems fit,” Thayer said.
Now she’s a regular parking enforcement employee, supervising current CTOs and training two other employees who will become dispatchers for this fall semester. So far Thayer has come to appreciate the mobility of the job, saying that having to be stuck in an office all day would have been undesirable. Doing unlocks for students or staff is one of the several duties that allow her to walk around campus.
If a workday seems uneventful, dispatchers will usually resort to CTO tasks and check parking lots, but the chances of a boring day are low.
“Typically we do get quite a few calls, so it’s never really that slow,” Thayer said. “Summer’s a bit slower, but… there’s always something to be done.”
Getting along with coworkers is important to Thayer and it’s one of the reasons that she has stayed with the Parking Services.
“Everyone seems to have a pretty good vibe. Everyone’s really welcoming and understanding,” Thayer said.
In addition to a positive workplace, the convenience of the job being with the University has its perks as well, she says. Parking Services has been able to work around her school schedule and the proximity of the offices has made it convenient for getting to class after her shift.
Still, Thayer says, there is nothing particularly significant about having a University job versus having one off-campus in retail or at a restaurant. Many of the required skills and lessons to be learned are the same.
“It’s all just a matter of who you’re working with and what you’re doing, so I feel like working for enforcement is a lot of customer service… as well as just basically trying to… make sure you, like, keep doing your job,” Thayer said. “But I feel like you can get that with any job.”
Pursuing enforcement beyond Parking Services is a future prospect for Thayer, who shows interest in possibly working for the University’s police department in the future. Though she has a degree in teaching and wants to earn her master’s, UAA unfortunately cut the program last semester. Thayer says she would have to go out-of-state to continue her education but for now, she’d like to find a job with the state troopers or Anchorage police department, if not with the University.
It is seldom that the University police work with Parking Services and usually in the case of the presence of a moose or suspicious vehicle. Yet Thayer still sees the department as her next step.
“I do think it would be good to go into enforcement. I had that thought beforehand so I’m not sure if that plays in… I think it’s justified it a little bit more.”
So far, her experience with parking services has taught her a few things about being not only an employee but also a student. Especially as a CTO, employees have to know how to handle situations in which a person may be unhappy or displeased. Thayer says that it’s essential to be able to explain things to people clearly enough when it comes to citations, violations and other issues that could be potentially problematic.
In terms of being a student, Thayer acknowledges that there are rules and regulations to be followed. Just as a term of agreement asks you to agree that you’ve read it in its entirety, the university also expects students and staff to abide by the rules.
“It’s always like a teetering effect. It’s a give-and-take,” Thayer said. “Knowing what is best to do and not to do. I feel like a lot of people don’t pay attention to that.”
Many enforcement jobs require a lot of patience and people skills, but being with parking services hasn’t discouraged Thayer yet. She hopes that other students will take advantage of other jobs on campus, especially if they are looking to make some money while taking classes.