Students with jobs offer differing viewpoints on the benefits and consequences

September 25, 2022 — by Derek Liang and Nidhi Mathihalli
Photo by Nidhi Mathihalli
Balancing between school work and having a job
Although having a job as a student can offer a variety of beneficial skills, there are necessary considerations to prevent students from overworking themselves.

Junior Carmen Stephens walked along the aisles of Trader Joe’s during her job in recent weeks, stacking items as she found their places. She quickly took a glance at the time. Leaving from her Thursday shift did not mark the end of her day — she still needed to start her homework, and realized yet again that she had a long night ahead of her.

Stephens has been working at Trader Joe’s as a stocker starting in June. Throughout the summer, she worked for 25 to 30 hours weekly, equivalent to four to five days per week. As the school year started and her school work increased, she has continued working, but has reduced her working hours to 12 hours per week, which consists of a full 8-hour shift on Sunday and a half shift on Thursday following school.

Although junior year can be stressful and her job is time-consuming, Stephens was confident in continuing working, as she believes it has taught her many valuable social and applicable skills. 

“I learned how to communicate and how to present myself through the interview process,” Stephens said. “Through interacting with my colleagues, I’ve also learned more about their work and college experience.”

Stephens also mentioned that her job has taught her the importance of responsibility. Having to work on these days without excuses allowed her to learn discipline and time management, skills that she believes will help her in the future.

Like Stephens, junior Margaret Laver held a job for four months — October 2021 to January 2022 — working as a math tutor at Mathnasium, a math tutoring center for younger children, where she taught a class of students ranging from 2nd to 8th grade. However, she believes that having a job can take away crucial time needed for maintaining academic success as well as other extracurriculars, such as sports — the time commitment necessary for the high school swim team is what pushed her to quit her job.

“Managing schoolwork and having a job was hard,” Laver said. “You have to be able to manage your time, and sometimes that can be hard with sports or other extracurriculars.”

Laver valued learning some key lessons from her job, particularly patience: Having to control her patience while maintaining the class was a challenge she initially found hard due to the childrens’ lack of focus, but soon, it was one she had mastered.

After joining the school swim team, she found it difficult to balance the variety of things she was involved in, and had to let something go. She believes this was a good decision for her schedule and health, as it gave her the opportunity to delve deeper into the activities she was most interested in while maintaining a healthy balance.

“A job can definitely be a good experience where you have the opportunity to learn a lot while having fun,” Laver said.