Part-time service jobs promote independence

October 18, 2016 — by Alexandra Li and Ami Nachiappan

Students gain sense of independence through part-time jobs. 

“Wait, Yuna, what are you doing here?” Saratoga students at Big Basin Cafe on a Saturday evening ask their peer, senior Yuna Kim. Standing behind the counter, Kim busily creates latte art on coffee.

With a smile planted on her face, Kim laughs as she jokingly responds: “Oh, I’m just shopping for some groceries.”

For Kim, working as a barista at the small but busy cafe in Downtown Saratoga means that this conversation happens all the time. Even if it has resulted in these awkward encounters since she got the job during the summer, Kim has grown to love her work.

“At first, working there was really stressful since it was so busy during my working hours, but what I’ve gained from working there is amazing,” she said.

During high school, while many students opt for internships to get experience in fields like medicine and engineering, some upperclassmen have chosen to take part-time jobs.

One such student is senior Alex Yagobi, who works as a cashier and barista at McDonald’s.

“I heard from my friends that internships were nothing but getting coffee for people,” he said. “A lot of people around the Bay Area feel that working at fast-food places somehow equates to failing in life, and I hope that by working there, I can debunk this stereotype.”

Both Kim and Yagobi said they have developed people skills, including better time management and more effective communication.

Similarly, senior Sydnie Vo, who has worked as a cashier at Big Basin since the summer of 2015, hopes her time at the cafe will help her as she goes on to major in business in college.

“In the future, I aspire to be a small business owner or entrepreneur and working at the cafe has helped me realize the hardships and rewards of working for yourself while pursuing your passions,” Vo said.

Working allows the students to branch out and build a community outside of school too. For sophomore Valentina Araya, working at Big Basin Cafe since September of 2015 has provided her with many new experiences that she otherwise would not have been able to have.

“I really enjoy working there because the community is very loving and is like a little family,” Araya said. “I’m so glad that I get to be a part of that.”

But Araya said starting a job poses challenges. When she started working, Araya accidentally pushed over one of the chocolate mousses in the refrigerator.

“Thankfully, the owner is the sweetest lady I’ve ever met,” she said. “I still have the job now so I guess I must have done something right.”

For Kim, Vo and Yagobi, who are all on the verge of becoming college freshmen, being able to earn money for their hard work, even if they earn $10 an hour at Big Basin Cafe, has paved the way for independence from their parents.

Kim, who wanted to dye her hair professionally, felt guilty asking her parents for money for her personal purchases because of the hard work they do in their own jobs that often involves travel  they were constantly going back to Korea for work. Working at Big Basin helped her proudly sport the new hairstyle.

“Getting my hair done wasn't cheap at all, but I felt good knowing that I was the one who paid it off,” she said.

Though at times the jobs prove stressful as students are forced to constantly be on their feet all day, ready to fulfill customers’ needs, the benefits outweigh the costs as these students become more socially mature.

“I used to absolutely dread talking to new people, but this job really helped me get comfortable with my own skin,” Kim said. “This job has taught me so much about dealing with stressful situations that I know it will definitely help me with my future career.”