VHHS students balance school with part-time jobs


Erin Kim

Photo Illustration: Students can look for jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities on the CRC website.

The very idea of a job can be exciting, nerve-wracking or stressful. Especially as a high school student, working a job can be a handful on top of schoolwork and extracurriculars. However, the idea of a paycheck with one’s name on it and spending one’s hard-earned money can be rewarding.

Many VHHS students work a job or internship, and had varying experiences with their jobs.

Based on an anonymous survey sent out to all VHHS students, 36 percent of 199 students currently work a job or internship.

Surveyed VHHS students work a variety of jobs ranging from the retail industry, including Pacsun and Target, to jobs in the entertainment and recreation industry like Regal Cinemas, Lifetime Fitness, Sedgebrook Retirement Home and the local Aspen Drive library.  

Students have many reasons for getting a job. According to the survey results, 50.7 percent of students cited saving money for the future as the main reason for getting a job.

“I thought it would be nice to have the extra cash,” Maddie Kwon (10), who previously worked at Mariano’s Fresh Market, said. She also stated she wanted to start saving money for her college tuition.

A job can be equally parts rewarding and stressful, according to Kwon. She stated that she noticed herself putting less effort into homework and just doing it to get it done, mostly due to the 20 hours she worked per week.

Patrick Sear (12) stated that he works 11 hours per week at Trader Joe’s.

“I get home around 10 p.m., and I don’t get to start my homework until that point,” Sear said.

The number of hours a VHHS student works a week ranges from one to 20 hours, according to survey results. The mean number of hours worked per week for VHHS students with jobs is 15.6 hours.

“If you’re able to hold a job, it shows colleges, for example, that you can balance school and work,” Ms. Bellito, Vernon Hills college counselor, said. “However, I think it can be hard when employers don’t understand that you’re a student first, and your job comes second.”

A student’s working environment also heavily influenced their attitude towards their job.

Sear stated that he originally wanted to work at Trader Joe’s because whenever he would visit, everyone was super happy and excited, and he felt that it would be a cool place to work.

“I have management that I feel like actually cares about me,” Sear said.

On the flipside, Kwon stated she did not have a positive experience.

“At Mariano’s, the shifts are really long; [each shift is] eight hours. The people there are really rude, and you have to deal with snobby customers,” Kwon said.

Kwon now has a job coaching at Lil’ Kickers, a soccer program for young kids under five years old.

Nicole Tartakovsky (10) is also a soccer coach at Lil’ Kickers, and she said that working with the kids is the best part of her job.

“They bring out the best in me and always make me laugh,” she said.

Students can also learn new life skills from their time working a job or internship. Tartakovsky said she learned communication skills not only with the kids, but with their parents and her co-workers.

“I also had to learn how to problem solve quickly, because I work with toddlers,” she added.

Ms. Bellito said that holding a job teaches responsibility.

“They will expect you to be on time. If you can’t meet their expectations, your job will be in jeopardy,” Ms. Bellito said.

Overall, student opinions on working a job in high school vary. Positives reported by students include a steady income, new skills gained and new relationships. Negatives include less time for homework and a stressful working environment.