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Is it Worth the Work?

The new freedoms and opportunities of high school come with responsibility, but they also come at a cost — literally. A Friday night out to Buffalo Wild Wings is no longer funded by the National Bank of Mom and Dad, and it is time to start providing for oneself a bit more. In other words — it is time to get a job. The holidays make for a great opportunity to begin one’s work career, no matter whether it be the start of something permanent or simply seasonal.

Some places of employment offer seasonal jobs or even one-day contracts. Senior Alex Zimmerman explained that the Tommy Hilfiger store in the Rosemont outlets, along with other retail stores, sometimes hire employees for just a day. “We are encouraged to reach out to friends and family to recruit ‘one-day employees’ that will take on a 10 hour shift on Black Friday,” Zimmerman said. These quick jobs can be a great way for students to get extra cash in their pockets for the holidays. As far as seasonal employment goes, some companies need extra assistance during the holidays and will hire students during winter break to manage the Christmas and post-Christmas rush.

Other, more permanent jobs require a longer commitment. Senior Luke Slaughter, who works for two hours after school Monday through Friday at Anderson Lock and sometimes Saturday mornings as well, explained time management is a skill that he has developed through his job. “It takes away from the time I like to use for my homework, so I’m forced to stay up later,” Slaughter said. For students that work, this is all too much of a reality. Any job is a time commitment, and it is one more thing during the day that takes time out of already busy schedules. Slaughter explained that he has to be more efficient with completing his homework. “I have to really make sure that I take advantage of any spare time during the day in order to get as much done as I can ahead of time,” Slaughter said.

By having a job in high school, students can gain a sense of responsibility that they otherwise would not get. “This unique experience prepares students for handling problems later in life or even in the near future at college,” Slaughter said. There are benefits other than just an increased sense of responsibility, however. Arguably the best part of having a job is getting paid actual money for the work that you do. “The extra money in my pocket is probably the best part of the job,” Slaughter said.

Even teachers at West see the impact jobs have on students on a daily basis. “I think it’s good for students to have jobs. A taste of the world outside of high school can only add to a student’s growth as a person,” physics teacher Phil Sumida said. Sumida also noted that “if you have a job, it is important to keep in mind what school activities you’ll need to reduce in order to keep your job.” As Sumida recalled, he made sacrifices to work during his teenage years as well. “I had a job all through high school: the park district, McDonald’s, Jewel-Osco and a local hardware store. I set my hours so that I could do my school activities, but still work maximum hours,” Sumida said. The key to having a job as a high-schooler is achieving balance.

Most students who have a job are able to keep up with their school work and social life without being miserable. Senior Ellie McCabe, an employee at Menchie’s, believes that the most important thing students who want a job need to know is “that it’s going to be hard to balance everything at first, but having a job at this age is so beneficial once you learn to manage your time.” McCabe thinks that it is a good thing for a student to have a job even if it leaves them with a pretty packed schedule and less time for homework. One piece of advice she has for prospective workers is “to do some of your homework during down time at school. It will keep you from being as stressed if you are able to get some work done during the day.” McCabe also added that “having a job in high school can teach students to balance their work and their assignments.” She also believes that, despite the stress a job can cause, “developing these skills early will better prepare students for adult life”.

Although jobs are time consuming, “it is all worth it once that paycheck is in your hands,” Slaughter said.

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