Column: Working a part-time job in high school during a pandemic

Getting a part-time job is one of the best decisions I’ve made in high school.

I know, a job is a big responsibility. It may seem difficult especially alongside Advanced Placement classes and the daily homework assignments, all while trying to maintain a healthy sleep and social schedule — but it’s worth it.

My typical workday starts right after school. Walking into the store, I’m immediately delighted with the scent of fruits and smoothies. I dodge my way through the line of customers, wave to my coworkers and head to the back to put my stuff away. I clock in for my shift and start my day.

I take orders at the register, blend smoothies, restock items, wipe down counters, wash dishes and greet customers. Although it can be stressful with five to six hour long shifts and to be constantly working in a fast-paced environment, I love having a job in high school and it’s a decision I don’t regret.

The biggest perk of having a job at 17 is, of course, the money. Opening that biweekly paycheck after a long shift and seeing all my hard work put into something valuable is really worth it. I’m able to spend whenever I want on whatever I want with complete freedom.

Most of my money, however, goes to savings for college. Having a job has helped me handle my money better. While you’d expect high school classes to teach you efficient money management, having a job has actually taught me more about this than my classes. Working also allows me to feel the independence of being an adult.

Along with money management, having a job has completely altered how I manage my time. Before, I’d often procrastinate on everyday homework assignments and take my time for long-term projects. Now, since I have limited time due to working several days a week, I’ve learned to manage my time wisely. I have to rearrange my homework schedule around my work schedule, whether it’s staying up later to finish assignments or cramming them in before a work shift. It has proved to benefit my time management skills in the long-term.

With my job, I feel more productive about the time I spend doing tasks. Rather than wasting my hours away on my phone and procrastinating on homework like I used to do before my job, I’m making money.

Out of all the skills I’ve mentioned above, another necessary skill I’ve gained while working is socializing. Whether it’s asking my coworkers how they’ve been doing or communicating with customers about their orders, having a job has really improved my communication skills. Having a job during a pandemic, where most of my classes are online and I rarely talk to my classmates or teachers, has helped to get me out of my comfort zone in terms of efficiently speaking with others.

Now, there’s still some drawbacks to having a job. Although I love having a job and all the perks that come with it, it can still be stressful every day. Especially when you have a line of customers waiting during lunch hour and you’ve been on your feet all day, it can become tiring and overwhelming very quickly. Managing your time can prove to be difficult if you find yourself sleep-deprived and behind on assignments because of your job.

Even dealing with customers can cause more stress, especially those who are impatient and not understanding certain situations that may come up. Personally, I’ve dealt with customers who have yelled at me about mistakes in their order or how much they owe at the cash register and it can be difficult to handle.

Since working can take up a lot of time out of your week, it can be hard to spend time with family or hang out with friends. Especially when you have friends who also have jobs, lining up your schedules to find a day to hang out can be extremely annoying and inconvenient.

Despite the occasional downsides, I don’t regret getting a job during high school. In fact, I wish I could’ve told a younger me to get one earlier.

Having a job is ultimately a decision you need to make carefully. Take into consideration how it can impact your time, sleep schedule, school activities and social life before making this huge decision. For me, it’s a worthwhile decision and I’m grateful for the experience I’ve gained from it.

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