know your bartender: Jamie Herman

Jamie Herman.jpg

Well look who’s back.

Even as we celebrate the graduation of the St. Olaf students who have worked at Imminent over the last year, and bid adieu to our comrade Khal Almousa, we are thrilled to welcome Jamie Herman back home. An original member of the Imminent Crew, and a native Northfielder, Jamie is back behind the bar for a couple months this summer after graduating from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.

“It’s good to be back,” she said. “I had a five day stint between when I got home and when I first worked and I feel like I did all my summer things then. Like, I’ll come down here (to Goodbye Blue Monday) and I’ll read an academic article or just a book for fun, or I’ll go to the library and look for grad school stuff, check out a book, check out movies, goes to the Clothes Closet, go to the Used a Bit shop, work on some art projects.

“So, I’ve done all the biking, sitting around coffee shops, getting a beer, thrifting stuff.

“I still haven’t unpacked, though.”

Despite living out of her suitcases for a bit, Jamie is excited about getting back to work at Imminent. She doesn’t like sitting around. She’s used to a certain routine, which generally involves being productive. With that said, her return to Imminent has not exactly been how she planned.

She had been thinking that she didn’t need to pick up extra shifts, and that she could work a couple nights a week and offer some spot help where needed. And then she went in to say hello.

“Just going into that space, at 11:30 a.m. on a Wednesday, when all the chairs were up. Laura and Derek were using a random table as a workspace and Randy was coming in and out working on brew stuff in his massive boots. It just felt right.”

Before she knew it, she was picking up cleaning shifts on days the taproom isn’t even open.

“Suddenly I was just like ‘Yep. I’m in. I’ll take anything. I will literally do anything.’ Because I have such a care for that place.”

Jamie doesn’t really do anything halfway. If she commits to something, she’s all in. For example, she has an internship set up for the next year back at Luther. The way she talks about it makes it sound like her entire college experience has been leading to this.

“I am the Center for Global Learning intern. It’s a one-year position that exists for a recent graduate. The Center for Global Learning handles all the study abroad programs. I help students figure out where they want to go and help them find the right program. And then I run a study abroad fair. And the new thing is the International Admissions side. The director of the department has wanted to do this for a long time, but hasn’t really been able to implement it until now. It’s looking at all the files that come in from all over the world, and sort of evaluating potential students, trying to get an idea if they would be a fit.”

Her boss trained her in on that bit earlier this spring, and she’s really excited about it.

“It’s awesome to see where people come from and the stories that they bring,” she said.

The internship has some other benefits as well. She’ll be going abroad in January to help out with a J-Term class, in a paid role. Plus, she’s working on making some connections that will help her find focus for the next step, which might be a Masters program, and/or might be a PhD. And she has a very specific idea of what she wants to study; the problem is it’s such a new idea that she doesn’t really know where to pursue it.

“I’m interested in pursuing these academic, theoretical ideas behind higher education,” she said. Specifically, she has great interest of the roles of colleges and universities in the era of the Knowledge Economy.

“It’s like this,” she said. “Ideas and innovation are intellectual capital, and that they now have surpassed natural resources and human labor, and are the number one hot commodity in the world today. Think of it in terms of this: everyone wants to be at the forefront of every new discovery. That sort of mentality - the prioritization of knowledge - has, based off of market logic, affected the knowledge producers, which, traditionally, have been universities; they are the producers and cultivators of knowledge and research. So, how has that demand affected what those [institutions of higher learning] are doing?”

She’s working on some fascinating, complicated, high-level ideas, about which she is incredibly passionate. The problem is nobody really seems to know what the best route for her to take should be.

“There’s the practical route, where you can get a masters in Higher Education which, in theory would streamline you into administration, and you learn about pedagogy and assessment and endowments and stuff like that. I find that interesting, but it’s not what I want to do.

“And then there’s the PhD route. People say the way to approach the PhD level is to find somebody who is working on the stuff similar to what you want to do and work with them. But, I haven’t found anyone yet.

“There’s a Masters that looks good at The University of Chicago,” she said, and then noted the difficulties of being accepted into a program at the “prestigious as hell University of Chicago.”

“I could start writing a book right now,” she said, “but no one is going to listen to an overzealous former undergrad.”

That’s where I think she’s wrong, and if you take a couple hours to hear her ideas, you’d want her to start writing that book right now, too.

The internship at Luther will help her sort out her future, which, clearly, looks very bright. But for now, for the next six-to-eight weeks, Jamie’s going to enjoy the early days of being a college graduate. She’ll be at home with her parents, and while she’s in Northfield, she’s going to spend a little time behind the bar at Imminent. And she’s pretty happy about that.

“It’s pretty fun to work here. In fact, I would feel weird being back in Northfield and not working here.”

“For now, it’s a no-brainer that this is where I need to be.”