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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Upperclassmen fit jobs into their busy schedules

Leyna Chan
High schoolers compassionately taking on new responsibilities and stepping into the real world.

Enter the popular Saratoga Bagel’s shop on Saratoga-Sunnyvale, or go to Cupertino Northwest YMCA, or even the San Jose Tpumps during non-school hours, and it’s common to see upperclassmen earning around $18-20 an hour with after-school and weekend jobs.

With the United States unemployment rate remaining low at 3.7%, students have been more inclined to be able to secure a job of interest. For students under 18 years old seeking employment, obtaining a work permit from the SHS website is required.

Common jobs include becoming office assistants, baristas, waiters or lifeguards. 

The Falcon asked seniors Anjali Aarkoti and Aritra Bagchi, along with junior Caleb Yu, about their experiences.

Aarkoti connects with patients through job as a Kaiser Permanente clinical assistant

For Aarkoti, joining the school’s Neuroscience Club in her freshman year sparked her interest in the medical field.

In search of opportunities within health care, Aarkoti applied to be a clinical assistant — receiving, screening and registering patients — at Kaiser Permanente. After spending hours practicing mock interviews and even canceling a flight to New York City for a pre-planned college visit, Aarkoti passed her applicant interview and received the job offer.

Aarkoti’s work requirement spans a minimum of 120 hours throughout the year, so she dedicates four hours after the end of her unscheduled fifth and seventh periods on red days to her responsibilities at Kaiser, allowing ample time for schoolwork afterward. Despite this job taking up a significant amount of time, especially during the school year, she finds the commitment worthwhile.

“One time, I arrived with a wheelchair at the Mother/Baby Postpartum Unit (the department for labor and birth) to pick up a mother who gave birth,” Aarkoti said. “It was such a wholesome experience seeing the two twins in her arms, and knowing that I had the honor to help carry and care for them.” 

Other times, even small moments like brief encounters in the elevator with recovering older individuals brighten her day. Aarkoti finds that many patients are rather unfiltered and dealing with them can impart valuable life lessons.

For those seeking to get a job in their desired field, Aarkoti emphasizes the significance of networking and building valuable connections with like-minded individuals who share similar goals. The most crucial advice for underclassmen, she notes, is to actively engage in job searching and seek out opportunities that you would also want to pursue in college such as first joining the academic clubs here on campus and getting advice and guidance from upperclassmen. 

Bagchi blends love for coffee with customer service skills

After applying and receiving an official offer to work as a barista at the Cupertino Starbucks last June, Bagchi was thrilled to get started. 

“I applied to five different locations, and only two got back to me [for an interview],” Bagchi said. “I went to the closest store out of the two for an interview and I was hired on the spot.”

Bagchi prepared for the interview by studying potential questions on Quizlet. He emphasized the importance of being friendly, as Starbucks places a strong emphasis on customer connection, valuing baristas who interact with customers in a friendly and personable manner rather than as mere transactions. Bagchi believed showcasing friendliness during the interview would convey his ability to establish good connections, which worked out in his favor.
His job requires a minimum of working 12 hours every week, and Bagchi has the flexibility to choose when he wants to work his shifts. Currently, he works from 4-8:45 p.m. on Fridays and works 6 to 8-hour shifts on the weekends. Though this may seem taxing, he says his work schedule does not conflict with his school commitments since he primarily works at convenient times after school and on weekends. The work environment, which is also very friendly and inclusive, sometimes included his own SHS student friends.

Bagchi’s favorite aspect of the job is making drinks such as the Strawberry Acai refresher. Due to his own “addiction” to Starbucks drinks, he feels motivated to make each drink to perfection, so customers can enjoy it as much as he does. From June to December, Bagchi was paid $18.50 an hour, with tips varying from week to week. In the summer, Bagchi made $86, while during Halloween week, he made $90.00, and for the rest of the school year making $60.00 for his service.

With his experience with Starbucks, Bagchi heavily encourages students looking for jobs to be proactive, as it shows dedication to the companies they are applying to.

“Put yourself out there, and don’t wait for anything to be handed to you,” Bagchi said. “It’s important to act eagerly and let them know you want the job.”

Yu bonds with coworkers at Boba Drive

Yu first found the opportunity to get a job through connections from his church, the River of Life Christian Church at Santa Clara, in early August. One of the church members owns the store Boba Drive in Sunnyvale, and Yu thought it wouldn’t hurt to ask for a position. The owner was open to the idea of hiring him and set up an interview for Yu. 

Now, Yu has been working for six months at the store as a barista, balancing his time between school and work. Despite having a rigorous schedule of closing shifts on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4-9 p.m., Yu has maintained enough time for his academics. 

Yu’s school days end at 2:30 p.m. at the latest, so he has an hour and a half to do homework before work. After ending his shifts at night, he comes home and studies until 11 p.m. 

“My time is crunched every time I go to work, so I wouldn’t recommend working after school if there is no free time available,” Yu said. “If you’re able to get work done fast and don’t procrastinate, working during high school is not the worst idea.”

Yu himself was driven by the idea of exposing himself early to the real world and obtaining much-needed experience in the workforce. Since landing his job, he has discovered that he enjoys preparing drinks that he never thought he could make before — including common boba orders like brown sugar milk tea, bee-long (honey-infused oolong tea) and Thai tea. His favorite take-home drink after work is a mix of coffee, brown sugar, milk and boba.

In addition to making drinks, he enjoys meeting new people every time at work. Ten other people work during the days he is there, and five of them are fellow high schoolers. 

“My coworkers have been really fun to be around, and the overall learning curve has been enjoyable and not too toll-taking on my regular routine,” Yu said. “I definitely recommend other students to find a job sometime in their years at Saratoga High. Looking back, the knowledge and skills I’ve developed through my job is invaluable, even though it’s hard at times to balance school and work.”

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