Balancing high school, a pandemic, and a part-time job
By Vanessa Brohman
Many high school students are working part time jobs while attending school. Having a job during high school is already difficult enough, but add a pandemic and online school and students are left bending over backward to learn. I decided to interview classmates to understand the struggles and successes of having a job during these difficult times. I was surprised by what I learned during our chats.
Ella is a student at Canterbury High School who also works as a part-time bakery associate at a grocery store. She took this job because she wants work experience, needs to pay for her phone and is saving money for college.
Ella has expressed and shared both positives and struggles she faced this year. Ella says her coworkers do not always follow Covid guidelines, and that concerns her. She mostly struggled with work hours, finding herself sometimes overworked, sometimes underworked, and having no control over the number of hours she worked per week.
Also, Ella has been paid less in the last month than before Christmas. She explains that she and other employees are frustrated with shorter shifts given little if any input. Furthermore, Ella finds work can be both mentally and physically draining with customers' demands in particular.
On a positive note, the grocery store has been respectful with her schoolwork, even allowing her to skip a shift when Ella's changed an assignment due date.Ella advises other students to look for a job but remember to communicate with managers and to know that we all deserve respect.
I also talked with Evelyn, who works at a fast-food restaurant as a cook. Evelyn took the job to earn money and get out of the house. In the summer, she worked eight-hour shifts four days a week. Now she is lucky to get one four-hour shift a week. Evelyn does not find it hard to balance school and work, given the few hours she is working.
Evelyn reports that the restaurant respects all covid rules, and she is comfortable working there. However, Evelyn acknowledges that her social anxiety is a challenge in the workplace. She does, however, feel that she has learned to communicate better and is more accountable. This has also helped her at school.
Evelyn gives the advice that students should be prepared to encounter unpleasant managers and to speak up when needed.
I was surprised that time management was not an issue for either young woman. Instead, they both faced social challenges. I admire their organizational skills and determination. We will look back on all the ways that this school year has been unique.