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Staff Stories: Nathan Bandler

When the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the nation, Nathan Bandler was only three months into his Cornell career. He was hired in December 2019 to a newly created one-year term position as a sales and events associate for Cornell Catering, working with the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business. So when campus events suddenly – and indeterminately – halted, and restrictions were placed on food services, Bandler's hopes of remaining in his position plummeted.

We’re coming into work every day and just deleting events off of our books. I remember one of the days when it was really starting to sink in — this isn’t a week thing, this isn’t a month thing; I could lose my job.”

Bandler didn't lose his job. Instead, Cornell Catering pivoted. Rather than coordinating more than a dozen daily campus events, he found himself bagging and delivering prepackaged meals to campus and the community. Despite the uncertainty at the time, Bandler was met by a feeling he had hardly experienced from any other employer – security.

With his previous experience in restaurants and at his mother's café, Bandler understood the magnitude and detriment of the pandemic for small businesses and those working in the food service industry.

He remains impressed by Cornell's dedication during that time – both, providing staff with alternate opportunities and responsibilities to remain employed at the university and supporting the local Ithaca community where it could.

“I was unaware of how involved Cornell was prior to working here,” Bandler said. “It's an eye-opening experience to see how much they do. Seeing what Cornell genuinely does for the community is amazing, and they really do care.”  

In his first year, Bandler admits he struggled and credits the support of his supervisors for helping get him to where he is today. "I had high expectations for myself and wanted to perform well," he said. "So, when I started, I was nervous. I didn't have my voice. I was a little bit disorganized. Looking back, the development and assistance that my supervisors provided helped me to become confident and organized. That's a testament to the great leadership at Cornell."

Nearly four years into his employment with the university, Bandler has grown tremendously in his role and has comfortably transitioned (back) to leading catering for on-campus events and coordinating with various clients. 

Bandler has also developed a deeper connection to his work and with his colleagues. “My supervisors are really compassionate and understanding,” Bandler said. “I know that I'm working with people who are highly intelligent, empathetic and focused on the same goal. That is what motivates me, and that's what makes me love my job.”

This is the first job I've had where I thought I could work here forever and enjoy it,” Bandler said. “It's unlike a feeling that I felt in any other place."

Grace DePaull is a writer for the Division of Human Resources.

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