Finding Encore Boston Harbor for Everett’s Sara Villanueva was tantamount to getting not just a great job she loves, but also getting a scholarship to help her pay tuition at Boston College.
“I work six days a week as a dealer at Encore and go to Boston College (BC) full time,” she said with a smile during a recent interview. “I use my job at Encore to pay the tuition. They also do tuition reimbursement here, $7,000 a year. That would really help me and I’m in the process of applying for that.”
Encore was a totally unexpected find for Villanueva, 22, after attending the Madeline English School, the Parlin Junior High and then graduating Everett High in 2016. Hoping to pursue a business degree, she began taking classes at Boston College. However, that didn’t come without having to work hard in between classes.
When she first heard about Encore, she was teaching modeling and acting at Barbizon School, while also teaching English ESL classes at the Everett Community Center. It was a busy existence, and one where she squeezed in rigorous homework and classes in between jobs.
Then someone suggested she become a dealer.
Her first response was to laugh out loud.
“It’s kind of amazing looking back,” she said. “I was teaching English at the Everett Community Center and my boss was helping with all the jobs for people looking at Encore. He asked me if I was interested and said there were a lot of jobs at Encore. I didn’t want to apply and he said I had to apply. He thought I would be very good as a dealer. I thought – a dealer? There was no way. Never in my craziest dreams did I think I would be a dealer. I was so nervous. I ended up taking this job. I think it’s the best thing that happened to me. It’s so easy playing a game, and getting paid good money for it.”
Villanueva attended Cambridge College’s Dealer School for three months, starting in October and being interviewed for the job in December 2018. After an audition, she passed and was hired to work in the first wave of Encore employees. Now, she is one of the more popular dealers on the floor of the casino, dealing Blackjack, poker games and novelty games.
“The floor of the casino is my favorite place at Encore,” she said, noting she has routinely met people from as far away as China and as close as Chelsea. “I get to meet people from near and far. It’s definitely a very hectic pace here and every day I look forward to working here. It’s never the same people and it’s always something new.”
But beyond her job, Villanueva still balances her studies at BC – where she is scheduled to graduate in 2021. That’s perhaps the best part of the job at Encore. It’s flexible enough that she can work her schedule around her schooling.
Typically, Villanueva starts her shift on the gaming floor around 5 a.m. and works until 1 p.m. Then she heads to BC to study and attend classes from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Usually, she sets aside an hour after school for homework, and then does it all over again.
“This job is really amazing because working 5 a.m. to 1 p.m. gives me a lot of time,” she said. “I take classes at night and have the challenge of doing homework. This job is flexible and helps me to be able to balance both being a student and an employee.”
It has also given her pride in the community. As a life-long Everett resident, Villanueva said the city has such a fun and exciting reputation now.
“I just love it now and Lower Broadway has become such a beautiful area,” she said. “I was never interested in Lower Broadway. I never paid much attention to the casino either. I had heard about the jobs, but I really noticed when I saw how polluted it was here and how they cleaned it up. It has made the reputation of Everett 100 times better. It’s a wonderful community, but a community that has a casino. Everybody wants to come here and see what’s happening in Everett.”
And that is one reason that Villanueva said she hopes to advance in the company after she graduates from BC – potentially moving up the ladder at Encore and also having her own business too.
“I would definitely want to grow in this company,” she said. “There are a lot of opportunities to seek out here. I’d really like to be a pit boss one day. I also want to have my own business…This job really helps its employees and community. That’s why it’s such a privilege to work here. It’s a blessing to work at a place that is willing to help pay for your college education.”Encore via Everett is an occasion feature of the Independent that spotlights residents and business owners from Everett who have found success at Encore Boston Harbor.