From Homework to Real Work

Whether it’s for spending now, collecting in a savings account, or planning ahead for college, many students search for jobs in order to satisfy their needs for cash. Though having a part-time job allows students to earn money and learn real-life skills, work hours on weekdays and weekends tend to reduce the amount of time students have to study and manage their schoolwork.

Serena Anaya, junior, previously worked at Toppers Pizza in order to help alleviate college costs. “I thought that it would be a smart decision [to work] since I want to go to college and it would help pay for tuition or housing,” she said.

However, she recently quit because the work-school balance became too difficult. “I am taking a couple AP classes which makes the homework load heavier,” she said. “Furthermore, there were times where I had shifts right after school and got out [when it was] dark. During those shifts all I could think about was the homework I had to do once I got home.”

Senior CJ Koekemoer said that he got a job at Safire Bistro because he needed money for his car and insurance, but, like Anaya, feels the stresses of work and studying combined. “It’s definitely a struggle balancing your work schedule with school, and just life in general,” said Koekemoer. “The homework load most students receive is already hard enough as is, without a job […] in the mix. You’ll be staying up until 1 or 2 in the morning half-awake and trying to finish up your homework.”

According to a study run by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, though being employed in high school can have a wide array of positive effects, the general trend among employed high school students, regardless of previous GPA, race, gender and socioeconomic status, was a general decline in not only grade point average, but general academic achievement and career goals.

 “It can be harmful [to work] if the student has a low GPA and work is taking too much time away from their academics and they are not learning how to manage work, school work and home life,” said Mrs. Judith Isaac, Career Center Technician. Students see Isaac in the College and Career Center to apply for work permits.

Despite the stress, having a job can help prepare students for the real world, through interpersonal skill development, along with earning and handling money. “For the most part, I think it is beneficial for a student [to work] because they are gaining work experience, building a resume and […] learning responsibility, teamwork, and time management,” said Isaac.

“By working, I’ve learned that teamwork is a key factor to success,” said Anaya. “[In most jobs] it can get really busy, and [personally] as a cashier, it got really stressful because you don’t want to make customers wait so long that they leave. But I learned that working together accomplishes more tasks at a faster pace.”

Students also gain independence from their parents by earning their own spending money. “By working, I’ve learned the value of a dollar,” said junior Sammy Mendiaz, who works at Chester’s Asia Chinese Restaurant and Banana Republic. “I also realized [how nice it is] to finally not ask others for money because I have my own money. Getting a job made me feel a lot more mature.”

Work also exposes students to adult life and slowly incorporates them into the workforce while helping them make connections with coworkers, according to Anaya. “I really enjoy working because I would interact with so many people and even make friends with customers that came in every Friday. Plus the Toppers staff is so amazing. It is like a family because we all can talk and joke around with each other,” said Anaya.

Mendiaz also said that a major beneficial aspect of working in high school is garnering a sense of community with one’s coworkers. “I enjoy working because it feels like I have a second family,” Mendiaz. “It felt like I was making new friends at my job, and […] it made working fun for me.”

However, most people work for the sake of earning money. “I can’t really say I enjoy working, but money is money,” said Koekemoer. “[However], when you have a lot of coworkers that you like being around, it makes working a little more enjoyable.”