Life Lessons Served Sunny

UPA students discuss the skills they learned while holding down a job during summer.

Teenagers working a summer job is a widespread occurrence that is only on the rise. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor, 56.2% of young people (16 to 24-year-olds) were employed between April and July 2019. This is an increase from the 55% of young people employed who were employed during the same period in 2018. 

Across the United States, this increase in employment rate is common among high school students and college students since an ample amount of them are either holding summer jobs or entering the job market full-time. These trends are also common at UPA with students asking Mrs. Dorene McClung of the front office at the end of the school year for a CDE B1-1 Request for Work Permit form.

Jobs available for teenagers, although limited in availability, can range in type, with the most popular among them being fast-food jobs. Of the 3.8 million fast-food workers in America, more than half are young people. 

Senior Megan Uy falls within this statistic. As a team member at Five Guys at The Plant off of Curtner Avenue, her experience as a fast-food worker has given her insight.

“I think at any age, having a service job is really humbling because you learn what it’s like to be working for other people,” Uy said. “There are so many people you encounter in one shift. There are really nice customers or there’s a rude customer.”

Uy, who has had the job since June of 2018, describes working at Five Guys as challenging. She details work as an extra responsibility on top of the day-to-day activities of school, homework and family life.

“If you’re very academically involved and if you have other extracurriculars to do some people have a really good sense of balance and time management,” Uy said.

As a McDonald’s employee, senior Samuel Hagos can relate to the struggles Uy endures.

“Some customers will give you a hard time,” Hagos said. “They’ll put the blame on you so they can receive free food and I’ve learned how to deal with it.”

Over the summer Hagos worked at McDonald’s for 30 to 40 hours per week and experienced the pressures of working for a major fast-food franchise.

“There are going to be days when four or five people don’t come in and it’s just two people having to do everything and that’s when it gets annoying,” Hagos said.

Although they might complain about work, both students enjoy certain aspects of their jobs. On the other hand, students such as junior Daniella Weber, a lifeguard at the Creekside Cabana Club, actually enjoy all parts of their job.

“I never really took [lunch breaks],” Weber said. “I didn’t feel the need to not be working because when you’re working you just talk to people.”

All three professed that their main reason for having a job was the work experience.

“I wasn’t really looking to make money, it was just in addition but I wanted the experience before going to college because I know college is going to have similar opportunities,” Uy said.

Although Weber worked over the summer, she ultimately decided to not work at Cabana during the school year due to a focus on school.

“It depends who’s managing next year,” Weber commented. “My friend’s brother might manage and it’s going to be a party the whole time. You know it’s going to be so fun. I’m so excited.”

Despite Weber’s decision to not work during the school year Uy and Hagos have decided to continue working in their worksites. Both believe they have found joy and gained unforgettable skills that they wish to continue to apply.

“You’re able to experience all of those different people at once, so it’s very hard on you, but it’s such a great learning experience,” Uy said. “I think a lot of people should have a service job at one point in their life.”