Saxbys — the popular, Philadelphia-based coffee company — has been a staple at Temple University since it opened its first on-campus location. More recently, Temple's Saxbys cafes have become student-run as a part of Saxbys Experiential Learning Platform (ELP). This semester, the company hired its first Klein College of Media and Communication student as a student cafe executive officer (SCEO). Hayley Retter, a senior majoring in public relations, rose through the ranks as a Saxbys team member and is loving her new SCEO position at the Liacouras Walk cafe.
Saxbys ELP got its start on Drexel University's campus in 2015. The program empowers SCEOs to run their cafes exclusively while leading a team of their peers. Not only are SCEOs in charge of their teams, but with training from the company, they also manage inventory and strategy. There are ten student-run cafes on campuses across the Mid-Atlantic region.
At Temple, Saxbys ELP began as a partnership with the School of Sport, Tourism and Hospitality Management (STHM). However, once other schools and colleges at the university discovered the benefits of Saxbys ELP, they were open to discussing how their students could take advantage of the opportunity as well.
Retter was a sophomore when she started working for Saxbys as a cafe host. Because of her commitment to Saxbys' mission and values, she eventually progressed as a cafe barista, a team lead and a senior team lead. When Retter applied and was hired as an SCEO, Saxbys worked with Klein and Fox School of Business, which already allowed students to be SCEOs, to fashion Retter's academic plan accordingly.
Raymond Smeriglio, KLN '15, is Saxbys' head of external relations and partnerships. He graduated with a degree in strategic communication and is one of the leaders behind the success of Saxbys ELP. As a Klein alumnus, he is all too familiar with Saxbys' presence on campus and is excited that more of Temple's schools and colleges want their students to participate in the program.
"It's one of those things that once we proved the concept and the school sees how incredible this experience is, the other academic crediting becomes just a little bit easier and easier and easier," he says. "You can be a CEO at a company and use these skills, you can be a nurse and use these skills, you can be a public relations professional and use these skills. These are all power skills that will really lead you great places in life."
As an SCEO, Retter has already acquired professional experience beyond her years. She says that the skills that she has developed are "extremely applicable to Klein" curriculum. With two months of SCEO experience under her belt, she is proud that the cafe is up and running.
However, there remains the daily challenge of COVID-19 and its subsequent guidelines. Fortunately, Temple's open Saxbys location has retained a consistent guest base by promoting its mobile app, adopting contactless payment, and opening a to-go window. Team members are even on alternating schedules designed by Retter. Perhaps the most innovative change is the company's use of Eversafe OS, a workplace safety app developed by Aramark and Jefferson Health that allows the Saxbys teams to communicate in real-time regarding COVID-19 protocols and procedures, including cafe sanitation checklists and wellness check reminders.
"It's really nice to see that everyone sort of has respect for what's going on and the...condition everyone is in," Retter says. "So we're able to work with guests and work together to do our best to keep this cafe as clean, as safe and as enjoyable as possible."
"What I'm getting right now is preparing me for my future — it's not just a job that's getting in the way of my degree. It's a job that's enhancing my degree and making it better and going to make me a more useful professional post-graduation," she says.
Retter also believes that her SCEO experience pairs well with her background in communication and public relations.
"Our program is on the foundation of team development, community leadership, and financial management. And for Klein students I want them to know that so much of this job is from a point of hospitality and leading a team from point A to point B — leading a team of your peers at that. And I really enjoy that aspect of internal team building, that's my favorite part of the job," she says.
Similarly, Smeriglio recognizes that Saxbys ELP instills Klein students with invaluable knowledge. "I think Klein does such an excellent job getting their students ready with the skills they need to be great communicators and this program really buttresses the aspect of running a business that really sets them up for future success," he says.
Students who are interested in applying for a Saxbys SCEO position can visit the career section of the company's website, where the SCEO position is always listed.