I start most days with an abrupt kick of caffeine and the wafting smells of fresh baked goods around me. I do not bake unless it’s in the microwave. But it turns out that you don’t need much baking experience to manage the baked goods schedule at a coffee shop, so long as you have a group of really talented bakers behind you. That’s one of my roles at The Coffee Closet, a student-run cafe on campus. I manage baking, as well as events and communications.

In the spring of my first year, I was hired as a barista at The Coffee Closet. Two years later, I applied for a manager position and was accepted. A lot has changed since my first days serving coffee. For one thing, I only recently learned how to brew hot coffee. When I was a barista, I worked three two-hour shifts a week. Now I work triple that amount. My new role has given me the opportunity to hone my skills in business management, and as part of that role, I thought it was important to understand the process of how every drink is made, inside and out. I can’t manage a coffee shop if I can’t brew coffee.

At The Coffee Closet, I am responsible for sending emails to staff about shift changes and schedule updates, coordinating events with other organizations and overseeing the baking for our shop. If I am not handling any of my three main responsibilities, I can be found training new baristas, cleaning the shop or promoting the shop on Instagram. (Follow us @the_coffee_closets).

My new role hasn’t always been easy. My first month as a manager involved some unexpected bumps. Initially, our cash register wouldn’t connect to the College wifi and our oven would not get warm. But problem-solving is another skill I’ve learned along the way. Our management team worked with our staff supervisor, Associate Director of Student Engagement and New Student Programs Jeannette Williams, to coordinate the fixes we needed to get brewing.

Despite the breadth of responsibilities that comes with being a manager, I would not trade it for the world. It is only the beginning of the semester but I have already accomplished a lot. Under my supervision, employees have made pies, chocolate and peanut butter Rice Krispie treats and more. I am impressed with the creativity of our bakers and am ecstatic that I get to support them as both manager and taste-tester. We have plans to include lemon macarons and homemade protein bars in our baking schedule next.

Perhaps the most fun part of my new position is our weekly installment of Tuesday Tips. This weekly email is a tradition at Coffee Closet and an integral part of my job. I meet with the other managers every Tuesday to discuss how the shop and employees are doing and the changes we’d like to make. I take a lot of pride in leading communications for the group. I condense our minutes into an email, which contains details about what is working well, what we need to improve upon and where there is room for growth. We have a GroupMe chat too, but Tuesday Tips are a great way to elaborate on concerns and share positive feedback without inundating our employees’ text notifications. Through this practice, I’ve greatly improved my communication skills and proficiency in constructing official communications. I believe that complete transparency and a cheery attitude are the most conducive aspects that lead to productive business.

Up next: Harvestfest, our biggest and busiest event of the year. Harvestfest is an annual event during Fall Weekend, where clubs and organizations, like us, can promote themselves. We will be ready, willing and able to serve as many pumpkin spiced lattes as the people can consume. I have full faith in our staff. And our synergy.

Mark stands behind the counter at The Coffee Closet