For many Palo Alto High School students, homework, athletics and various extracurricular activities consume all of the hours in the day; however, several students on campus have managed to pursue after-school jobs as well.
Popular choices for student jobs include working at local restaurants and retail stores. The Palo Alto community offers a variety of employment options part-time as well. Working also presents the opportunity for students to receive paychecks and start gaining their own income.
Senior Sydney Williams currently works at the Vans store in downtown Palo Alto as a sales associate for anywhere from 12 to 20 hours per week.
“I’ve always felt better paying for things with my own money,” Williams said. “I decided it was time to get a job and I thought retail would be a good place to start.”
Junior Alexis Crews-Holloway currently has two jobs that take about eight to 15 hours per week. She works the front desk and as an “Ice Guard” at the Winter Lodge, and also at a local Jamba Juice.
“I wanted to work at Winter Lodge because I’ve been skating there since I was about five years old,” Crews-Holloway said. “I wanted to work at Jamba Juice because my friend started working there, so I decided to apply for a summer job there and I’m still working there now.”
Spending seven hours in school alone can seem like enough work for many students, so spending an additional two to four hours working at a job demonstrates a remarkable level of determination.
Those with part-time jobs take on extra responsibilities since they make a commitment to Paly as students and to their employers as workers. As far as balancing academics and work, Williams says that it takes time to find a way to successfully manage the two.
“It was stressful and tiring at first,” Williams said. “But now that I’ve worked there for almost a year and a half, I’ve learned how to manage my time better.”
Crews-Holloway acknowledges that as the school year proceeds, and presumably as the amount of work increases, balancing work and school can be challenging. For the time being, however, the transition from working over the summer to during the school year has been rather manageable.
“It’s only been a month into school, but once school work ramps up a bit more it might get difficult,” Crews-Holloway said.
Even though it can be hard to take on both school and work, part-time jobs offer students opportunities to gain new skill sets that cannot be learned in the classroom. The professional skills students gain at part-time jobs can help better prepare them for future careers.
“Working in customer service, you’ll definitely gain more people skills than you will anywhere else,” Williams said. “If you can’t work with a customer, no matter how difficult, you won’t get very far. With that will come patience as well.”
As for students currently seeking jobs, Williams notes that finding a job that matches one’s hobbies and interests is essential for a positive work experience.
“I suggest looking for a job where you’ll be comfortable and hopefully get along with your co-workers,” Williams said. “That doesn’t mean they have to be high schoolers too, though. Getting along with your coworkers will make your job 10 times more enjoyable.”
Crews-Holloway advises those on job hunts to be mindful of the extra time commitment and to pursue jobs that both interest and are suitable for the student.
“I’d say to definitely consider the amount of school work and pre-existing extracurriculars because school comes before a job,” Crews-Holloway said. “In terms of what kinds of jobs, it really depends on one’s interests and availability. Summer jobs are really nice if you don’t go on vacation much, and lots of businesses hire high school students over the summer.”
While being a student and an employee presents an extra challenge, the experience can bring opportunities that help better equip students for life beyond high school.