Grocery stores and local shops are popular options for student employees. (Photo by Kevin Doan)

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High school students’ perspectives on working during COVID-19

Getting work experience under your belt is a popular way for high school students to find out who they are and who they want to be. High school students who work devote their time and best efforts to their jobs, which provide them with life skills, money and a stepping stone into future careers. But…
<a href="https://highschool.latimes.com/author/arianarathan/" target="_self">Ariana Rathan</a>

Ariana Rathan

February 4, 2021

Getting work experience under your belt is a popular way for high school students to find out who they are and who they want to be. High school students who work devote their time and best efforts to their jobs, which provide them with life skills, money and a stepping stone into future careers.

But since COVID-19 sent us into isolation in March, work has not been the same for these students. We asked eight students from four different schools across the Huntington Beach Union High School District to get a look into what it’s like working as a high school student during the pandemic. Here’s what they said.

 

How do you feel about getting exposed to COVID-19 when you go to work?

“You really don’t think about it, just because you’re wearing a mask and we sanitize, so I don’t mind,” said Saisha Wakim, a sophomore at Huntington Beach High School and employee at Huntington Surf and Sport.

Senior Tyler Morales at Marina High School, who works at Nova Aquatics, had a similar opinion.

“I feel pretty good at work because we wear face shields and everyone gets their temperature checked before they come in for the swim lessons,” Morales said.

While most students feel safe because of cautious regulations and safety measures, some remain concerned.

Lily Drescher, a sophomore at Fountain Valley High School who works as an after-school caretaker for children of staff members at Carden Hall, expressed some of her worries.

“I feel semi-comfortable. In the morning the kids get their temperatures taken. It can’t surpass 99 degrees or they get sent home,” Drescher said.

Gabi Angiuli, a senior at HBHS and an employee at Chick-fil-A, felt the same.

“To be honest I do get nervous about it sometimes, but Chick-fil-A does a really good job with making sure they’re following [the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] guidelines and that everyone is safe and socially distanced at work,” Angiuli said.

 

How do you balance online school, extracurriculars and your job?

Despite the fact that schooltime/extracurriculars have been reduced due to COVID-19, students continue to feel overwhelmed and must manage their time in order to maintain balance.

Some students, such as Wakim, try to make sure their work schedule doesn’t interfere with school, clubs and sports commitments.

“I have school in the mornings, including surfing. I finish around 12:30 p.m. I do my homework and then leave for work at 2 p.m. and usually stay until closing at 10 p.m.,” Wakim said. “I’m also in volleyball so on the days I have practice, I don’t work.”

Even when students manage to work good hours, it can be challenging to manage time and rest.

“It can be hard sometimes but honestly you just have to be really good at managing your time. Always make sure you use your free time wisely. You have to make sure that you can have an equal balance between school, work, and having fun,” Angiuli said.

Angiuli added that getting homework done before it’s time to go to work will help students find time to relax when they get home and be well-rested for the next day.

 

When did you start working?

“I started my business near the end of freshman year but most of the work that I’ve done was during COVID-19 … quarantine gave me more time to think of ideas and be inspired,” said HBHS junior Drew Dela Llana, who makes personalized earrings, keychains and necklaces for her business Earrings4Change.

While Llana had begun work before quarantine, most students had actually gotten hired during the quarantine.

Edison High School sophomore Bianca DeView, who works at Pur Bowl Acai Bowls said she was hired around the same time school began.

Five other students were hired over the summer during the peak of COVID-19, while only two had been working before then. Some took on jobs because their extracurriculars were not as rigorous as they had been before schools closed in March.

 

What’s keeping you working during these COVID-19?

“The [Huntington Surf and Sport] community is like a second family to me. I look forward to going to work every single day,” Wakim said.

To some, interactions with customers are the most valuable experiences.

“It’s always a plus to get people to know who I am. I got to meet new people and I helped inspire them,” Dela Llana said.

All students continued to work not only because of the income they made but also because of passion for their work and connection with their coworkers.

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