An Orange-collar Worker

Article and Infographic by Janelle James

When you spend four years working at the Carrier Dome, you end up with stories to tell. Just ask senior Tina Nguyen, an American History major and a student manager at the Dome.

Nguyen has worked most Dome events since her freshman year, from basketball games to concerts. She’s seen fans wearing hardly anything but body paint. She’s had to calm a mob of beer-thirsty spectators upset that alcohol sales were ceasing at half time. She’s sprayed beer on her bosses as she clumsily tried to tap a keg.

Through it all, she’s gained valuable work experience and made some of the best friends of her life.

I sat down with Nguyen and asked her to share some of her stories about working at the Dome. Here’s a bit of our conversation.

Question: How did you start out working at the Carrier Dome? What is your role now, and how long have you been working there?

Tina Nguyen: I started working as a freshman. This is my first job ever and it was a really great experience for me because it made me realize that I do enjoy sports.  I started as a general employee, and now as a senior, I’m one of the student managers. I prepare the paperwork for the supervisors, help them out during the event, and after the event I close the event, meaning in a business aspect we put all the paperwork away and square it away for our manager.

Q: What was your first day like working at the Dome?

TN: My first day it was pretty overwhelming because it was my first job ever.  I was a cashier and was learning how to work the register.  I liked it, and I met a lot of great students that were working with me there.  My supervisor was great, and the atmosphere really helped me stay at the Dome and want to work there.

Q: What type of events do you work?

TN: Every event I always tend to work.  I work all the ACC basketball games, high school events, and also at the soccer and hockey stadiums on south campus. We’re required to work events like Block Party and MayFest, as supervisors, but I’ve worked at a lot of concerts, too.

Q: How has been working with other SU students and the Dome staff?

TN: It’s awesome! It’s a big part of my life and actually all of my friends are from work.  The managers or the older crew are awesome, too, it gives you a real glimpse into the real life of working. I’ve gotten to know them to a point where it’s a platonic relationship, but also a working one.

Q: What’s the best part of your job?

TN: The best part of my job is the real life experience of a job.  My position now being an assistant manager at the Dome, I get a glimpse at what it’s like to work in the real world.  I’m working with the concessions manager, the assistant director of food services in dining halls and they’re older and more experienced, but you can interact with them.

Q: Have you had a challenging day at the Dome that you had to overcome?

TN: Last year I had a stress attack and I’ve never had one of those before.  I was so stressed out from morning classes and it was the day of a football game. At half time I had to close the beer line and some customers were giving me a hard time.  They really wanted their beer and I’m all about customer service, but I also had to do my job and cut off that line.  It overwhelmed me. Another manager, who was my friend, helped calm me down.

Q: What is the craziest thing you’ve seen a fan wear at one of the games?

TN: I don’t remember the game, but we were playing someone from the south, and they were dressed head to toe in paint, wearing wigs and tank tops.  Like they went all out.  Even though it was for the opposing team, I could tell they were really into the game.

Q: What types of food and drinks do you see the customers usually buy at the Dome from the concession stands?

TN: They love nachos, nachos with cheese and salsa, hot dogs, Coney’s, which is veal.  Beer is one thing they love.  I had one customer a couple of times that stood out to me because he loves the non-alcoholic beer we sell.  He’s so adamant about it.  He’ll come up and say, “Make sure you’re stocked up,” and I’m like, “okay you’re good.”

Q: So now they’re thinking about if the Dome is going to stay or not.  As someone who works there, do you think it needs to stay on campus to keep its meaning?

TN: Yes of course! I believe the Carrier Dome is an integral part of Syracuse University, so why not have it on campus.  I don’t foresee it moving anywhere.

Q: How has the Dome impacted your college career or your experience at SU?

TN: Actually becoming a supervisor halfway through my freshman year was one of the reasons I stayed at SU because it was some type of security having a role since I wasn’t involved too much in school. I was thinking of transferring, but it helped me stay.  I guess I found my own little niche at the Dome.

Q:  Do you have an embarrassing moment that happened at the Dome?

TN: All of my embarrassing moments are always with my bosses present, so they’ll always catch me doing stupid and funny stuff.  But there was this one time when I was tapping a keg, and it spilled everywhere because I didn’t tap it right. Tons of people were watching me, like my employees and customers because it was during an event.  I was embarrassed, but it wasn’t something I can’t now laugh about.

Q: What has been a significant fan experience that you can recall while working at the Dome, from either SU fans or outside fans?

TN: I had a moment where I was realizing that fans really do enjoy their sport, and show out for it. Outside fans travel a long way and to see so many of them congregated into our Dome, you realize the Dome is a special place at SU.

Q: What’s the most memorable thing you can take away from working at the Dome, something you’ll never forget?

TN: The most memorable thing I can take away from the Dome is that I’ve met some of my close friends there.  There are people you don’t get the chance to meet on campus, in class, or in your dorm, and you meet them at the Dome while working.  It’s just refreshing to make friends at work.  I’m so thankful I got to meet these people.

Q: What do you think it means to bleed orange?

TN: I think that it means to support your school, show that you have a deeper connection with it. I love it here at SU, so I guess you can say I bleed orange. With all the aspects of classes, teacher, classmates, and the Dome, I think it’s encompassing all of that and enjoying it.