Wilson, a senior athletic training major from Memphis, Tennessee, has worked a variety of jobs during his time at Union and is now in his second semester as a barista.
“I thought, you know what, this is so far outside of my comfort zone I just want to do it for the challenge,” Wilson said. “I wanted to experience a culture that I wasn’t familiar with, and didn’t necessarily like, and also to introduce more of my culture from my own experience into the environment and see how people respond.”
Now, after a semester as a barista, Wilson said his initial reasons for working at Barefoots have changed. He loves his job because of the team, and as an extrovert, he loves the face-to-face interactions.
“At Barefoots, I get to talk to people all the time, but it’s relaxed enough where you can let your personality develop in your work space, which is a fantastic opportunity,” Wilson said. “I can use weird accents when I’m serving drinks and then meet new people that I only know here.”
Wilson, whose favorite drink is a cappuccino, also enjoys the tangible work he does while preparing and serving the coffee.
“I get to sink my hands, literally, into everything I do. I get to feel the coffee when it comes out,” Wilson said. “One of the coolest things about making drinks is you get to perform art at the same time. You get to make liquid art and then show it to people. Hopefully it’s great when it comes out.”
One of the most challenging parts about the job, Wilson said, is steaming the milk, which is critical to making a steamed drink just right. Since he was hired his senior year, Wilson said he now regrets that he doesn’t have more time to grow as a barista.
“Working with coffee is a skill that I’m happy that I’ve picked up,” Wilson said. “Because of its specificity, it becomes marketable. I can carry the skill with me wherever I go.”
After he graduates this May, Wilson would like to be a collegiate athletic trainer or a strength and conditioning specialist for a collegiate team. Wilson has two other jobs at Union; he is a student worker for Jason Castles, assistant dean of students and director of student leadership and engagement, and he is an athletic training intern for the men’s basketball team. When he has free time, Wilson enjoys working out, spending time with roommates and playing soccer.
Wilson said he believes Barefoots Joe’s role on Union’s campus to be a “cultural hub.”
“It’s slowly becoming the trend in the United States that the big issues and topics are being discussed among friends and new acquaintances in coffee shops,” Wilson said. “I think that’s been happening for a long time in Barefoots.”
For students interested in being involved in Barefoots, Wilson advises them to spend time in Barefoots and get to know the people there. If students are interested in working for Barefoots, they should talk to Joy Moore, director of Barefoots Joe.