Not Just a Random Job

Many students don’t have a clear career path mapped out. Working at minimum wage or lower level jobs can provide valuable life experience.

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What do you want to do with your life? What are you doing to get there? The feeling of dread that these questions bring to teens drives them to assume that they should have their entire lives planned from a young age and must always be participating in activities that directly benefit their future job. Especially at Stuyvesant, many students feel as though they are behind others if they aren’t sure of their career paths and that their uncertainty is bad, feeling pressured to start getting internships in the fields they are interested in as early as possible. The reality, however, is not this case. Instead, some students have jobs that introduce them to the real world and provide them with valuable life experience. These non-academic-based jobs can be useful to a person’s future in a multitude of ways.

Sophomore Lucien Clough is not looking to work in the hotel industry. However, he worked as a host at his godfather’s hotel last summer. “Overall, it was fun, but one negative is that it’s sometimes difficult to always bring a good attitude. It’s important to fake it till you make it,” Clough said. In addition to learning all the different aspects and jobs involved in running a hotel, he learned how to talk to people and stay patient. The experience allowed him to interact with many different types of people and learn several tricks on how to speak with and help others. “My godfather showed me how many people it takes for everything to run smoothly,” Clough said. To Clough, seeing all of the intricacies of how an operation as large as a hotel is held together was something that a summer internship may not have taught him.

Similarly, senior Diya Rao worked as a cashier at Panera Bread this past summer. “I really like the job and felt that it gave me the opportunity to try something new and see how a business operates from the inside, which is really cool,” Rao said. Although this job may not necessarily be directly connected to a career Rao would like to pursue, it gave her a glimpse of her future, when she will need to be dependent on herself.

Some students do not have the time to commit to a strict working schedule, so they prefer to seek other jobs, like babysitting or tutoring. Both jobs involve mostly younger kids, which can train students to be more patient and understanding, as well as adapt to different personalities. Sophomore Simone Raleigh babysits for various families in her neighborhood. “I enjoy being with kids in general, so this is a nice way to enjoy my time while still getting paid,” Raleigh said. Through working for individual families, Raleigh is able to have control over her own schedule while still learning to communicate respectfully with many families. “One of the main benefits of this job is that I can still balance my extracurricular activities, like soccer,” Raleigh said. Outside of this side job, Raleigh has time to focus on other career-advancing activities, as well as enjoy her teen years with friends and family.

Though there are many ways to find jobs in your community, most students start through connections with people they know. From family and friends to old teachers, anyone who you communicate with can be a resource. “One of the administrators from my old K-12 school reached out to my parents and asked if I wanted to work at the school and help with after school activities,” sophomore Chloe Tom said. She wasn’t actively looking for jobs, yet an opportunity for her to learn and work appeared, so she immediately took it. One of the easiest ways to find a job is to reach out to old camps, after school centers, or extracurricular activities, as people tend to enjoy being in places they are used to. Likewise, you may get a leg-up when applying since those places already know who you are.

Sometimes, however, one’s network may not be useful in finding the part-time job one is looking for. Fortunately, we live in a technological era, and there are many opportunities online and on social media platforms. Junior Alexandra Tsarenkov, who tutors eight hours a week, found all her students through Facebook. “I found all my students by joining multiple Facebook groups with mothers posting about various levels and types of tutoring they need for their kids,” she said. Due to the wide variety of positions available, there is a higher chance that you will get to choose something that fits your schedule.

Out of the minority of Stuyvesant students who work, most of their jobs are temporary and part-time. And yet these experiences from simply working can be more beneficial than the internship or costly program that most students chase after. Though the majority of students are not entirely certain of their future career paths, some are taking just the general steps to educate themselves in life skills relevant to all positions. Working in any role, from a minimum wage job to an educational internship, can provide valuable experience and help develop a good work ethic, both of which will allow you to make progress in whatever future job you may take.