Erin Collins poses in front of the Dow Center. Collegian | Olivia Hajicek
Erin Collins poses in front of the Dow Center.
Col­legian | Olivia Hajicek

An escape from homework. A place to build rela­tion­ships. The sat­is­faction of serving other people — and you even get paid to do it. Working as a student house­keeper at the College’s Dow Hotel is a lot more than just folding bedsheets.

“I just kind of wanted a job on campus, just to kind of keep me going, keep me accountable, and I really like serving other people and doing things for other people,” said freshman student house­keeper Ashley DeMay. “I’m taking care of people after they’ve gone, and I’m also preparing for and wel­coming people who are coming to Hillsdale. So that’s kind of my way that I can help or serve others.”

Student house­keepers’ duties include “stripping rooms,” which means taking out any dirty things the guests have left, removing the bedding and towels, and emp­tying the trash. They also help clean the rooms and prepare them for the next guests.

“It’s kind of funny, because for a lot of the house­keepers, this isn’t their favorite part, but I like stripping down the rooms,” DeMay said. “There’s some­thing about making a room kind of clean or just taking out all the dirty parts of it that’s satisfying.”

Cedella Odiara, a sophomore who is a student house­keeper at the hotel, said she finds sat­is­faction in her work.

“When I got the job, I remember being told that house­keeping is all about making people happy, and really it is,” Odiara said. “Because you’ll go into a room, clean it up, make the bed, make sure every­thing is crystal clean and every­thing, so basi­cally I would say my job is about making people happy through cleaning.”

“I think that’s what actually moti­vates me in this job,” she said, “and it’s very sat­is­fying to see a room we’ve cleaned. It looks so nice. It’s heavenly.”

Odiara said there are two types of cleaning: check-outs, which happen once the guests leave, and stay-overs, which happen during the guests’ stay.

“For stay-overs is when I get to see the joy in the guest’s faces, because for a check-out, the guest left, and you don’t know who’s going to come in next,” Odiara said. “But with stay-overs, you almost feel like, ‘Yeah I know this person is in here,’ and some­times they actually give you spec­i­fi­ca­tions of how they want their room done, and when they come back to that, they’re usually so happy, and they thank you. It’s very satisfying.”

Odiara said the hotel also houses wedding guests, who con­tribute to the joyful atmosphere.

“When people are preparing for a wedding and stuff like that, they’re super jovial, and so it puts you in an envi­ronment where almost everyone is just happy,” Odiara said. “So it gives you some sort of pos­itive energy.”

The student house­keepers also benefit from pos­itive rela­tion­ships with their co-workers, according to DeMay.

“It’s a very fun atmos­phere, which I wasn’t expecting, but I’m so glad it is,” DeMay said. “It just makes the day go by so fast, and even the full-time house­keepers are super easy to get along with, and they’re really fun. One of them always has chocolate, and her and I share it together, so that’s fun.”

Junior Erin Collins, another student house­keeper, said that her co-workers are inten­tional about building rela­tion­ships when they can. 

“There’s a really great culture there,” she said. “Everyone’s joking around with each other; it’s a lot of fun.”

Often, the house­keepers work alone, but Collins said that this can be a benefit too.

“I do really like being alone some­times, having some time by myself,” she said. “It’s really hard to do that when you’re at college, and you’re always in class; and you’re around people all the time, but with this, I can kind of just have some time to myself — which I really need as an introvert.”

Whether they are working by them­selves or with each other, their work pro­vides a welcome break from the everyday stresses of student life.

“It’s a good way to get my mind off school and stuff, because you can’t do school while you’re working, so it’s a break from that,” Collins said.

Working at the hotel can also be ben­e­ficial to those planning to con­tinue to work in hospitality.

“I kind of want to go into hos­pi­tality as a career,” she said. “I applied because I thought it would be really good experience.”

Collins, DeMay, and Odiara all said they would like to con­tinue to work at the hotel next year. 

“When someone comes to you and says, ‘Oh my goodness, the room looks so nice; thank you so much,’ or you meet the guest and they thank you for actually cleaning the room, that’s usually my favorite part,” Odiara said. “And also the kind of people I work with. They’re very under­standing, and it’s sort of like a family in the hotel.”