The Benefits of Being an Employed High Schooler


Ashley Hawkins

Getting a job as a high school student has helped me understand the importance of grasping how the world outside of high school operates.

Kathleen Waldron, Staff Reporter

The idea of working typically doesn’t interest the average high school student. For some it’s a necessity, others are required to because of guardians — or like many — they want to earn their own money. The reality is that high schoolers nowadays fall short of having jobs. 

When I turned sixteen, the thought of having a job appalled me. I didn’t want any responsibilities other than making plans to hangout with my friends and sleeping in. I had no motivation to get a job, despite the fact I desperately needed one. At the time, I felt content with the way my life was going, but it wasn’t until I had gotten a job that I finally understood what was missing in my life. 

Prior to working, I spent a lot of time doing nothing. The idea of working still felt like a burden to me, but the habits and routines I fell into made it clear that it was the only option I could take.

At the age of 16, my parents strongly encouraged me to find a job but I was never forced to start working, which honestly made it feel like it was never a priority. Because of this, I stayed reserved to my life as an unemployed teenager. Despite the freeness and availability I had, this was becoming outweighed by the little money I still had saved up from birthdays. 

At the start of my junior year, I had decided that I needed a job. Even though I set the requirement for myself and was certain to follow through with it, the thought of working still largely uninterested me.

My cousin had been working at a boba shop called Tea & Tea all throughout the summer prior to the start of my junior year. She spoke highly of the chill work environment, which immediately convinced me to apply. During my first shift in early September, I came home feeling pleasantly surprised that I honestly enjoyed my day at work. I was greeted with coworkers who I immediately felt welcomed by and a work environment that put me at ease and kept me busy at the same time. 

I still feel the same about my job and am beyond grateful to work somewhere that I love. Although, the best part of my job is the feeling of maturity and being able to be self sufficient for a teenager. Working has not only given me a responsibility but also a reward for the time and effort I have put in.

As a high school student, the reality is that many people do not have the time to have a job. However, for those who do have the availability, the benefits are well worth the few hangouts you might miss. 

There is no doubt that the thought of quitting my job or calling out of my shifts hasn’t crossed my mind, because in reality most high schoolers would rather be hanging out with their friends, including myself. The days when plans are being made regarding what’s happening after school or for this weekend come around, and the idea of working becomes pushed to the back of mind.

For a while, it was an inner debate that I was constantly having with myself. Often, I felt like my friends would eventually stop asking me to hangout because of the assumption that I had work, or I was wilting away at the extreme FOMO I have when I work the closing shift on a Saturday night. 

So, having a job definitely has its cons — especially for teenagers. 

It can also be hard to manage having a job while being a student at the same time. I haven’t experienced many difficulties because my job allows me to do homework while I’m there, but it has become very difficult to go in and receive extra help after school or attend study sessions. It is something that has forced me to stay on top of my work but has also given me the ability to plan with my teachers what days work to come in for advanced help between both schedules.

I had to stop treating it like a burden —work was just something that I did, like attending school or going to sports practice. It became implanted in my head that my plans would always happen after work. My thoughts began to change from “I have to work the closing shift” to “getting off at 10 isn’t that bad.” Subtle remarks made the “burden” of working a lot easier. 

The reward of working is being able to provide for yourself, gaining work experience for life after high school, and learning what it means to have responsibility. I have gained tools and a level of maturity that is beneficial to my life outside of high school. Preparing for real world experiences is something that I greatly value and believe is a crucial part for our society. Benefiting from the interactions of customer service and having a greater perspective of how the real world operates has given me the opportunity to feel more comfortable with entering a world outside of high school.

Work isn’t a place I desire to be at all the time, and working a Friday night shift is never ideal, but the reward of clocking out and having another shift to go towards the paycheck is always well worth it. Working as a teenager has given me confidence, understanding, and most importantly a glimpse into life in the real world.