Women's Basketball |
Aug. 17, 2012
By Katie Baran
A typical summer for many student-athletes may consist of summer classes, campus jobs, visiting family at home, or just catching up lost sleep from the school year. But University of Cincinnati women's basketball player Jeanise Randolph took a different route when she began her summer job at the Cincinnati Zoo.
"(Associate AD for Promotions and Special Events) Leslie Wenert had a friend that worked at the zoo," Randolph said. "The zoo contacted me and then I met Lisa Sparks, the hiring person of her department at the zoo. She's really understanding and knows basketball comes first. She told me we would figure something out so I could work."
Since then, Randolph has been responsible for numerous tasks, primarily dealing with customer service in the gift shop.
"My job is to greet customers, suggest items to buy, suggest promos, and do demos," Randolph said. "We interact with the customers. I do cashier, stock, straightening. They give you a chance to see all the new attractions like Cheetah Run and the bird show. They tell you about all the new things that are happening. I also do Safari Gear, where I stand outside and interact with the customers."
While she doesn't directly deal with the animals, Randolph is still exposed to them on a daily basis.
"If I really want to see the animals, I can go and feed them for free," Randolph said. "They bring animals inside the store, so I'll interact with them. They bring in snakes and bugs. I got to see little pigs running around. I met a rooster. They had a llama walking around the zoo. I got to see the new Cat Canon exhibit."
As an organizational leadership major, Randolph is used to interacting with people and being the ringleader. While working at the zoo is not part of her future plans, she will be able to use her summer work experience in whichever career path she chooses.
"It helps you with your communication skills," Randolph said. "They force you to talk. When someone comes into your section, you have to say something. It can't just be `Hi,' you have to engage and say something like, `Hi, did you enjoy your day at the zoo?' or `What was your favorite animal today?' Or I'll tell a kid that I really like his face paint."
Despite what some may think, the Cincinnati Zoo is not only a local attraction, but it has become a destination for many visitors across the nation.
"I meet a lot of people that aren't from Cincinnati who say the zoo is really nice," Randolph said. "Most people who come through the Cincinnati Zoo are not from Cincinnati. A lot of them come from Las Vegas, West Virginia, my area of Chicago. People really enjoy the zoo. It's a nice zoo."
Just as the visitors do, Randolph also has the opportunity to explore the zoo and visit the latest attractions.
"Right now we have the Zoo Olympics, so turtles are racing and cheetahs are running," Randolph said. "Everyone is excited for that. I also got to see the Cheetah Run, which was really exciting. I know if I run against a cheetah, I'm not going to make it that far."
In addition to taking advantage of the numerous exhibits, working in such an untraditional environment also means leaving work with some interesting stories to share.
"Last week, I was at Safari Gear and someone came and reported to me that a penguin just laid an egg," Randolph said. "Everyone was freaking out about it because no one knew. Everyone was calling around on the radios saying, `Yeah, a penguin laid an egg. I don't know who to contact about it.' It was like a tag game trying to figure out what to do."
While Randolph concludes her summer job and heads home to Chicago for a month, this likely won't be the last time the famed attraction sees her face.
"They said they would love for me to come back to work the Festival of Lights," Randolph said. "I can come back when I finish basketball. I might even just work weekends."