I completed my final year with a class field trip to Cedar Point and my photo gallery is stuffed with photos of my friends and I in tears. High school was officially over and all of my friends were going their separate ways. Even though my pictures on graduation night said otherwise, I was excited to leave high school and get off to work. The first day of summer meant the start of accomplishing my only goals at the time: have enough money to be able to get one smoothie a day, and get a scholarship to college.

With little knowledge of the college admission process, let alone financial aid options, I immediately jumped at the opportunity to be a golf caddy at my local country club. While my mommy-and-me golf lessons ended abruptly in the 5th grade (and so did my dream of being the next Tigers Woods, or as I called him, “the guy in the red shirt”) due to the birth of my brother, I figured that re-learning golf vocabulary would be worth it if I was getting tipped big bucks in return, in addition to having the opportunity to get a full tuition scholarship to one of my two big state universities. It appeared that by working often, I would soon enough move up in the caddy ranks, gain a reputation between my clubs members, and be on an easy path to accomplishing my goal.

Or so I thought.

After a short summer and a majority of the fall caddying, combined with a vacation to Martha’s Vineyard and a violin intensive, I quickly accepted that I was going to have to find another way to pay for college. Trudging around miles on a soggy golf course with shoes creating blisters the size of quarters was the last way I wanted to earn 60K towards college tuition. However, the experience was one that I have never regretted, as I learned lifelong skills about the workforce a lot earlier than my peers. Within my personal experiences combined with what I heard from my peers makes up the pros and cons of getting a job in high school.

PROS

1. Skills for Life
When the smallest slip-ups can get you fired from your job and the smallest gestures of kindness can get you promoted, you quickly adjust to being on your best behavior. You’ll learn a myriad of different skills that will be applicable to life, including punctuality, treating even the most complicated of people with respect, how to handle situations appropriately, how to think on your feet, get an introduction to the banking system, and much more.

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2. The Money
While this pro is probably one of the reasons you were considering getting a job in the first place, I think it’s less about the money itself and more about the freedom you have with that money. You won’t have to wait until Christmas to get your Converse because your parents are buying them, because if you have the money available you can purchase them yourself. You can also put your money towards something meaningful, like to your own family that is struggling financially or even to GoFundMe campaign that’s going towards food in a developing country. Your money will also be accessible at any time, which will help you gain the responsibility to spend it wisely.

3. Your Resume
While it’s never good to do extracurricular activities for the sole purpose of getting into college, having work as an experience is something that is looked highly upon on college applications because of all of the skills you learn when you have one. If you find a job that you like and can commit time to, it could become your “thing” like some play basketball or strum a guitar in a band.

4. Exposure to Future Careers
While you dig a little deeper (as sung in the Disney original, Princess in the Frog) in your job search, you may come across job opportunities that can expose you to your field of interest. While they may be harder to find, it is not unheard of for doctor’s offices, law firms, and jobs in other professions to hire high school students to do office work. While it may not be direct exposure to the field itself, opportunities could lead to shadowing that office or even moving up in ranks that expose you to more in that career path.

CONS

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1. The Hours
For most, if not every part-time position, employers will have a minimum amount of hours they want you to work in a week, and quite honestly don’t care too much about how hard your classes are or how long your soccer training is. If you have to do, say 15 hours a week, but would like to sleep for six hours on a good night and have a little time to watch a weekly episode of Grey’s Anatomy, you’ll have to spend the majority of your weekend working. And even if you decide to work during the week, when you first start out, you’re almost never guaranteed the best hours and could be working on a week-night from five to ten. Rest in peace to family dinners and watching Jimmy Fallon live.

2. The Money
The extra pocket change you receive in return for your hard work is great for your movie visits as it can allow you to get the medium popcorn and a drink. However, at some jobs, it may not be all that you thought it was going to be, especially in jobs that rely heavily on tips. While dreams may consist of you ‘making it rain’ every day, you may quickly come to the realization that you’re going to have to gain a lot of experience to be able to wait more than two tables at once or have the privilege of serving that table for 10. It’s not necessarily that you won’t earn any money, but it may take some time for the funds to build to an amount you’re satisfied with.

While having a job in high school is something that takes a big commitment, there are a plethora of benefits that can be gained with having one. However, some activities aren’t for everyone, so it’s important to use your best judgment in deciding if adding a job to your busy schedule is right for you. If not, you can always consider getting one during the summer.

Good luck job searching!


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