Students gain real world experience working at The Retreat in Oxford


McEwen and Miles work on computer to talk residents through leasing.

Bailey Martin
Oxford Stories

Some students search for jobs in Oxford that compliment their majors. Senior Makenna Miles and junior Jana McEwen are two students who have learned a lot about business working at The Retreat, an apartment complex.

“I’ve worked here for almost two years, and I have always loved it,” said Miles. “You get to meet so many people, and it is just a fun environment to be in, especially when I know I’m helping myself for the future.”

The integrated marketing and communications major aspires to work in public relations and become the manager of an account planning firm or an event planner. McEwen, a double major in biology and marketing, is also learning key points for her future career working at The Retreat.

“I’ve really learned how to handle people, be able to have a professional phone call, and key tips on marketing and leasing programs to help me later on down the road,” McEwen said.

Their daily tasks include doing follow-ups, seeing if people are still interested, helping them with any questions, giving tours, helping people sign leases, and many other things.


Retreat at Oxford logo.

“When we have a community assistant start their job, we have them go through a training process called Grace Hill that trains them on fair housing rules, property managing and development, plus more things that community assistants just need to know for this job,” Property Manager Mallory Kelley said.

“We want our staff trained, so when people call, they are impressed with how much our student employees know. At the end of all their Grace Hill training, they have to take a final test to show how much they learned, and if they don’t pass with a good score, they must take it again.”

CAs at The Retreat are trained well before they can answer the phone. They do not just jump into it all on the first day, there is a training process.

“I had to wait a good three weeks before I could even answer the phone,” McEwen said. “The managers really want us trained when we start to talk to people so we don’t have to constantly tell people to hold on and wait. This is a serious job. You can’t just put in half the effort.”


Jana McEwen working at desk with placement chart

Miles said her favorite part of the job is witnessing how everything works.

“I love being able to look and read over leases and the agreements and explain it all to people,” she said. “I also really like answering phones, which is weird because I used to be really awkward. I like helping people with what questions they have over the phone. It tends to get interesting sometimes.”

Miles  plans to graduate soon and add the community assistant job to her résumé.

“I would like to get an internship with a company in Nashville over the summer to broaden my experience with public relations and marketing,” she said. “I know I will definitely be able to use my knowledge from working here to help me with anything in my future.”

McEwen said she has been able to use some of the computer skills she learned at The Retreat in her classes.

Kelley said they want their student staff to have a good attitude and have good personalities and knowledge.

“We take our hiring process seriously,” she said. “We check grades and make sure our employees stay on top of their schoolwork. It is important for the staff to be able to balance everything.”

Working at The Retreat has opened up opportunities and helped the student employees learn daily office skills to use in the future.

Now is a busy time of year with students looking for a place to live in fall. Miles and McEwen are giving tours, helping with leasing, placement, and marketing the property – all of which are vital skills to have for their future careers.Save


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