Working During the School Year

Me working on a Wednesday night during a slow time.

Allie Ruden

Me working on a Wednesday night during a slow time.

I began my first job during the second semester of the senior year of high school. I went to lots of interviews after school and on the weekends, ranging from food service to random retail jobs.  I was ghosted,  ignored, and told no.

After a long search, I was finally hired. 

The job was difficult because this was the first time I was juggling school and work, especially during the height of senior year. I began working only 8 hours per week, but then it quickly ramped up to 12-17 hours per week. 

It is difficult to be busier, and some aspects of my routine are disrupted – for example, dinner with my mom or dad, journaling at the end of my day, or just being able to talk to friends at all times. 

I found that managing my workload and time is more difficult, but planning out my weeks in advance helped me stay on top of what I had to do. Also, having a job allowed me to cherish the free time and time with friends even more.

I work in retail, which allows me to interact with lots of different people, therefore  growing  how I now deal with and understand situations and people. Learning these skills while  stepping out of my comfort zone allowed me to use my brain in new ways. 

The job has also taught me that maintaining  a positive attitude towards the job, even when I’m not feeling the best or when I’m tired, improves my weeks and overall experiences because I am able to connect with coworkers and customers enthusiastically. 

I now work about 2 times per week  and 2 times per weekend, which allows me to manage a balanced  schedule, see friends, and be able to prepare for college financially. 

Communicating with my managers has also instilled in me  the confidence  to advocate for myself and the amount of hours I want. As I enter the summer before college, I am feeling the pressure to maintain a good financial foundation for my first semester, so working  allows me to be confident in my work experience and financial knowledge.  

In the past, I found myself sitting around during summers and lack of commitments led me to a lack of energy, but now I appreciate being busy much more and I know what works best for me when balancing my schedules.

In the future, I hope to work during summers and possibly during the school year, but making sure to find a job that respects my availability and values my time will be incredibly important. Jobs are hard, and being busy is difficult, but finding fulfillment even in the monotonous is a good skill to have. 

Maintaining a job in high school  has taught me to value my interpersonal relationships, put my energy into new skills, and cultivate experiences and friendships in new environments. 

For more information on student jobs, check out Lauren Herrick’s article on Service Industry Jobs Provide Financial and Social Education .