Working teens struggle to find balance

November 1, 2019

Since freshman year, senior Lilli Woerner has worked as a soccer referee, a party director at Kids In Action, a waitress at Cypress Woods Retirement Home and as a sales clerk at PacSun and Hollister.

“It stresses me out, like a lot,” Woerner said, “just because thinking about finding time to fit everything in.”
Woerner is also a member of Student Council, every honors society Kingwood Park offers except one, and is taking four AP/Dual Credit classes.

Woerner is one of many students who take jobs to support themselves, help their families and improve their resumes. Their school weeks are long, and it just continues through the weekend. They go from classes to work and then finally home, where they have no choice but to work on school work late if they want to keep up with their classwork.

Senior Jasmine Gaytan is used to the questions and eye rolls from teachers when she mentions her job. She works 30-40 hours a week as a manager at Pizza Hut.

“They’re like, ‘Oh, you shouldn’t be working; you’re in high school. You don’t need a job,’” Gaytan said. “But I do need a job, I pay my own phone bill and I do like to spend my own money on things.”

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Gaytan wants to pursue a career in the medical field, but her job leaves her little time to be involved in the school’s Health Occupations Students of America or anything else.

“I’m good at time management. However, I do put a little bit more on my plate,” Gaytan said. “So, I don’t ever get to do anything for as long as I like or do anything when it needs to be done.”

For others, the workload helps them with their school work. Senior Marcus Block falls into that category. He works at la Madeleine 18 hours a week and is involved in choir, criminal justice club and graphic design at school.

“Time management skills is what I’ve learned most from juggling a job and school,” Block said. “Ever since getting a job, I feel like my grades have improved because it helps organize my priorities.”

Junior Nicholas Zolton uses his job to help with his future career aspirations. At Code Ninjas he gets job experience to help him pursue a computer science major in college.

“I really enjoy my job, because I love teaching and I love the kids,” Zolton said. “It’s just fun for me. But it’s a huge time commitment even if I am getting paid for it. So especially on some nights before tests and stuff when I have a lot of studying to do, I don’t go to bed until 12 or 1 a.m.”

He misses hanging out with his friends He also has been working on becoming an Eagle Scout for longer than he had anticipated.

Pullquote Photo

I’m good at time management, however, I do put a little more on my plate. So I don’t ever get to do anything for as long as I like or do anything when it needs to be done.

— senior Jasmine Gaytan, who works 30-40 hours a week as a manager at Pizza Hut

“A lot of adults are like ‘Ah, well, you know, we have jobs too and we have to pay bills,’” Zolton said. “And I get that, but we go to school eight hours, then I get home and go to work for four more hours and then I start on my homework, so it’s almost like working a 14-hour job every day.”

Senior Hannah Shippey works at Lesley’s Pool Supplies. With five siblings, she doesn’t enjoy spending so much time away from home.

“Just not having me around the house is tough for them because we do have so many people,” Shippey said. “We need stuff to get done and since I’m the oldest one there who’s not in college I hold a lot of responsibility in the family.”

Between being at the cash register, carrying heavy buckets and working with water chemicals, Shippey’s job isn’t simple. When she gets home at night she’s exhausted. With graduation coming up, there’s always still more work for her to do.

“It’s extremely draining,” Shippey said. “I’m either working on school, working at school or I’m working at work. I don’t get much time off.”

Shippey works to support her large family. She hates when she has no choice but to come to school after getting only four hours of sleep. She knows she can’t sleep her way through a school day. It’s difficult when she carries the stresses of her job on to the next day.

“We may be working 12 hours and then we go home and do three to four hours of homework,” Shippey said. “They’re always stressing, ‘You need sleep, you need sleep, you need sleep,’ but some of us don’t have that time.”

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