Andres Benson organizes clothing in Faherty, a local retail shop. Benson said he started working there during his first year at Pepperdine and appreciates the workplace and friendships he has made. Photo by Liza Esquibias
Sophomore Alondra Mendoza found a new community moving to Malibu this fall — her coworkers and local customers at Point Dume restaurant Thaia.
Students, such as Mendoza, said breaking out of the Pepperdine bubble through working off-campus allows them to cultivate relationships with locals and find their independence. Mendoza said she is excited her job has connected her to a community she missed out on during the pandemic.
“Honestly, I don’t have anything else to do here other than do homework,” Mendoza said. “For me — if I didn’t have a job — I feel like I would be bored half the time. And I think it does help people gain connections and be able to get out there with people that you don’t go to school with.”
On the Job
Junior Oliver Westover works at Malibu Yogurt and Ice Cream, which he said is locals’ go-to frozen yogurt shop. Westover applied for the job his first year at Pepperdine and got it on the spot, he said, despite not having much prior experience on his resume.
Westover said many of his friends work at bigger chains in Malibu, but he personally appreciates the quaint feel of Malibu Yogurt. The store — a “mom-and-pop” type location — feels like family, Westover said, which was especially valued when he worked through COVID-19, starting June 2020.
“My boss is super understanding and it’s not so regimented with the schedule or super uptight,” Westover said. “It’s such a good environment. Everyone’s super friendly, nice and calm — everybody who goes there is a local and they’re just happy to be there.”
Being the sole business location, Westover said Malibu Yogurt is unique to the city and not well known by those who do not live in Malibu. Westover always appreciates that the customers come in excited to support a local business and that he can contribute to running it.
Junior Andres Benson said his off-campus work at retail store Faherty, located in the Malibu Country Mart, gives him the opportunity to see a glimpse into the lives of people outside of Pepperdine.
“It’s been awesome,” Benson said. “You get to talk to tons of different people — obviously in Malibu, there’s a lot of successful people that you can talk to and get tips from. I guess over time, I have had a chance to grow within the company.”
The work environment at Faherty, Benson said, is relaxed and laid-back. Benson said he values the friendships he has with his coworkers, and they are excited to be together after separation.
During his time at Faherty, Benson said he has become more educated on sustainable products and Indigenous culture through the Native American designers the store partners with. Benson said working at the store has ignited an interest in things he did not previously think about when applying for a job.
“When I walked into Fahrety for my first interaction with them, I had no idea what the brand was about,” Benson said. “But over time, I have learned that they are all about sustainability and making good impacts on the world.”
Mendoza said she knew before coming to Pepperdine she wanted to work off-campus to help her acclimate to the Malibu area, so she applied over the summer.
Once she got the job at Thaia, a Thai food restaurant at Point Dume, Mendoza immediately appreciated the outlet it gave her to spend time away from campus and explore an area she had no other reason to visit before.
“Because it is about 10 minutes away from here down the opposite side of it PCH — and everybody usually goes down the other side because of Santa Monica — it does make me love it here even more,” Mendoza said. “The drive down is beautiful and it helps me connect more with Malibu.”
For the past two months, Mendoza has been a host. She is training to be a server, and Mendoza said she hopes she can continue that position throughout the rest of her time at Pepperdine.
Mendoza’s job helps her explore Malibu and learn her way around town, she said. Most of her coworkers are not Pepperdine students, so she meets people who can show her a different perspective — which she said is important to her college experience given her first year of classes were online.
“All my coworkers are locals too,” Mendoza said. “So they all tell me all the places that I should go. Even the customers that come in are always talking to me about, ‘This a really good Italian restaurant — you should go.’ Or, ‘I have a Pilates gym over here.’ It’s really interesting that they connect me more to the town.”
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Contact Liza Esquibias by email: firstname.lastname@example.org