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Students balance academics with side applications


After school gets out, most students go to sports practice, clubs or home. Others, however, get right back to work.

Senior Lia Salvatierra is one such student. Salvatierra has a job as a hostess at the restaurant Taverna, working six and a half hour shifts on weekends as well as Mondays from 4 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Salvatierra’s work schedule is influenced by the amount of schoolwork she is able to complete.

“I have been working Mondays consistently because I am able to get all of my homework done over the weekend with the new schedule,” Salvatierra said.

Senior Lydia Wilson is another student who works after school. Wilson works her as a Starbucks barista over the weekend, and sometimes on school days starting at 4:00 p.m.

Although her shifts aren’t extremely long (she works for four hours twice a week), balancing a job with school and other extracurriculars takes considerable planning.

“I have to plan ahead more than I used to because if I know I’m going to be working, I need to get my homework done ahead of time so that I don’t stay up late. It also helps that I’m mostly working on the weekends because even if I work all morning, I still have the entire afternoon to do schoolwork.”

Senior Lydia Wilson

Junior Katherine Buecheler, who is a hostess at the restaurant True Food Kitchen, only works on weekends for four or five hour shifts. Despite not working school nights, she finds she still has to manage her time wisely.

“Sometimes my manager will request for me to come in on school nights, and my response will depend on how much homework or how many tests I have,” Buecheler said. “So far it’s been okay, but sometimes they will ask me to stay an extra hour or so and that can be hard if I have somewhere to be or homework to finish.”

“Each school district may issue work permits and the school board can set forth a policy that can limit the total number of hours that a student may work in a week,” Theresa McDermott, Paly’s Work Experience Education Teacher Coordinator, said. She explained that in PAUSD minors 14-15 year olds may work up to three hours on a school day and up to eight hours on a non-school day with a total of eighteen hours per week. However, 16-17 year olds are allowed to work up to four hours a school day and eight hours a non-school day for up to thirty five hours of work per week.

Additionally, with Work Experience Education, PAUSD students can earn credit towards graduation requirements.

“In PAUSD students can earn either CTE credit or Elective credit by enrolling in Work Experience (paid employment) class or Exploratory Experience (non-paid) class while concurrently working.” 

Theresa McDermott, Work Experience Education Teacher Coordinator

Salvatierra and Wilson’s current jobs are their first experiences working in a professional environment; Buecheler’s current job is her second. Despite this, they all are well-adjusted to a professional setting. They all noted that they feel a sense of community with their fellow employees, and all agreed that is one of the aspects that makes their jobs enjoyable.

Though Salvatierra said her job at Taverna makes considerably less money than her old job as a camp counselor, she said she loves the environment at the restaurant.

“ [The environment] gives you a sense of importance and joy — bringing people an evening they walk away from feeling happy,” Salvatierra said.

Apart from learning how to work in their respective fields, Salvatierra, Wilson and Buecheler have learned other life skills from their jobs.

“Besides the obvious skill of learning how to make coffee, I think I’ve gained a new appreciation for people who work in the service industry because it can be really exhausting at times,” Wilson said. “I think I’ve also gotten more comfortable talking to adults because I will often have conversations with customers while I’m making their drinks. Before I started working, I never really enjoyed talking to adults, and that’s definitely changed.”

To those looking or applying for jobs, it is important to do something that feels worth your time, according to Salvatierra.

Salvatierra said, “There are so many jobs out there — don’t settle for one that doesn’t provide you happiness or experience.”

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