What a Jobful

How have Stuyvesant students been working over quarantine?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

With the onslaught of COVID-19, most restaurants, offices, and other public establishments were forced to close down. On top of struggles with remote learning and stress, many students also had to deal with losing jobs or internships that they secured pre-quarantine. However, as the coronavirus has progressed, many of these openings have resumed operation, leading many Stuyvesant students to start new jobs or restart ones they had put on pause.

With the pandemic, many jobs have accommodated to a virtual setting. Online outlets like Depop, Mercari, Etsy, and eBay, help promote the rise of small businesses. Over the summer, sophomore Jessica Zhuo created her Depop shop, Urban Jewelry, under the handle @jessicazhuo. Her Depop shop has gained considerable traction since its genesis: Zhuo currently has over 2,000 followers and about 1,350 sales. She also received support from her parents, as they both work in a jewelry store. “I started my shop because I was sick of being broke all the time and since my parents worked in a jewelry store, I had a little experience with this,” she described.

Zhuo enjoys the benefits of running a successful online business, including the influx of income and instant gratification from her success. “My favorite part is seeing my numbers rise and not being broke anymore. I think taking good product photos and fast communication is a big part of how my business became successful,” Zhuo said. To help others who may be interested in starting their own businesses as a job, Zhuo has some advice: “This might sound cheesy but don’t give up. Also, watch lots of YouTube videos to help you because they are very very informative and helpful,” she offered.

Sophomore Kai Caothien also took initiative when he started to look for jobs by himself to support his family financially. Especially with the coronavirus, unemployment rates have peaked to an all-time high in April 2020 at 14.8 percent, with many people being laid off, causing families to suffer financially as a result. Caothien’s family was no exception, which led him to look for job opportunities. While browsing through the Internet, he stumbled across an editing job online for a tutoring company. “My job experience was editing writing assignments for third graders. My job has been impacted by the pandemic because it was created as a result of the pandemic, since all I had to do was edit over Google Docs,” he explained. Along with getting paid, Caothien enjoyed reading the pieces he edited. “My favorite thing was reading the stories, as many included lots of humor,” he said. Looking into the future, Caothien is optimistic about new job opportunities and feels that his short job experience has been valuable. “I am definitely looking for more opportunities for jobs, as I really enjoyed helping students improve their writing. Not only was I able to help others [but] it was also a good experience for me to get a glimpse of what entering the workforce is like,” he explained. “Learning from my mistakes during my first job will also be valuable in helping me improve in the future.”

Though the pandemic unexpectedly offered new job opportunities for some students, junior Ella Krechmer had a different experience. Krechmer had been working since the beginning of her sophomore year in a local dance studio that also teaches gymnastics. However, with the coronavirus and lockdown, her job was put on hold for five months. After the studio reopened in August, Krechmer’s work experience was modified to fit with coronavirus restrictions. She had newfound tasks including sanitizing mats, taking students’ temperatures, limiting the capacity of people in the waiting room, and more. “I definitely don't prefer these new changes, but I'm glad that I am working. Sadly, though, I have students who I taught before the pandemic that forgot what I looked like without a mask, and others who have never even seen me without a mask,” she said.

Despite adapting to these necessary changes, Krechmer’s passion for teaching has not been undermined. Teaching allows Krechmer to watch her students excel and learn new skills. “My favorite thing about my job is seeing my students succeed. Dance and gymnastics are very difficult, so it's an incredible feeling to see them get new impressive skills, or finally come together for a dance I choreographed,” she explained. Krechmer can also practice her own gymnastics skills while working since she is a member of the Girls Varsity Gymnastics team at Stuyvesant. “There's also definitely the added bonus that since I need to demonstrate some skills or moves, I also get to dance and do gymnastics, and improve,” she said.

Krechmer experiences many wholesome moments at her job since many of her students are toddlers and little kids. “One time I was teaching a class and a student asked me why I was wearing a mask, and another little girl, who was four years old, said, ‘It's because we're in the middle of the coronavirus,’ but it was even better because she had this adorable high voice and was saying it very confidently,” Krechmer recalled.

With all these varied job experiences from Stuyvesant students, it’s clear that the typical teenage job experience is changing to adapt to the pandemic. But, instead of letting this discourage students from pursuing a job, it paves way for different opportunities in a virtual setting. As Zhuo suggested, “If you want to start doing something, start it. Don’t wait until someone does it before you.”