By Kelly Martinek, Claire Markley, and McKenna Ross
“School is their job.”
According to College and Career Counselor Judith Stahl, students juggle an adult-sized load of responsibilities simply by focusing on their school work.
But if school is their first job, many Seaholm students have chosen to take on two.
In a survey recently conducted by the Highlander, 81 percent of 65 student respondents reported holding a part-time job.
According to the United States Department of Labor, this number is lower nationally. A reported 26.5 percent of youth between the ages of 16 and 19 and without disabilities were employed in September 2013.
“It teaches you the responsibilities of the real world,” junior Noah Correll, who works as a bagger at Kroger, said.
But with all of the responsibilities high school students already have, between schoolwork and extracurricular activities, Stahl said she wonders how they manage to add work into the mix as well.
“I assume you don’t have time,” Stahl said. “I don’t know how you fit in a part-time job.”
“I usually do my homework before school or at lunch or just not at all,” Correll said.
David Zawicki, owner of Birmingham boutiques Suhm-thing and Lark & Co., recognized the challenge teens face in working during the school months.
“When we hire teens we always tell them school is the priority, number one, and their job is secondary,” Zawicki said. “We always accommodate their schedule.”
Zawicki says they are able to do this because, as a small business, they set their own hours. But many larger businesses don’t have the flexibility to accommodate teenagers’ busy schedules.
Junior Megan Jones worked at Premier Pet Supply during the summer, but had to stop working in September.
“They didn’t have hours that worked with school days,” Jones said. “I just don’t want [a job] that makes it more stressful during the school week.”
And many students who do work year-round take on significantly fewer hours once fall hits.
This is true for Anna Tripp, also a junior.
“During the summer I worked four days a week,” Tripp said. “Now I work every Saturday from ten to six.”
The teen preference for summer jobs is reflected in the Department of Labor’s statistics as well. The national teen employment rate was slightly higher in June, July, and August 2013 (31.2, 33.3, and 29.4 percent, respectively) than in September of the same year.
At Seaholm, 40 percent of survey respondents who reported having a job said it was a summer job.
That means 60 percent continue to work regularly during the school year. Stahl said that it is harder for students to work a part-time job than for adults.
“I think because they’re pulled in so many different directions,” Stahl said. “[It’s great] they can manage all that. That’s really impressive.”
According to Zawicki, an important part of balancing a job with schoolwork is that working is important to the student.
“We like to find teens that want to work, not because they have to work or because their parents tell them to go find a job,” he said. “Those are the people I like to work with because they are dedicated, they’re loyal, and they’ll give it their all when they’re scheduled.”
**All values based on an anonymous digital survey of Seaholm students conducted by the Highlander in October 2013.