You’ve Got Your Work Cut Out For You

Getting a Job in High School

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You’ve Got Your Work Cut Out For You

Erik Dreyer / Taxi / Getty Images

Erik Dreyer / Taxi / Getty Images

Erik Dreyer / Taxi / Getty Images

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Did you know that the government sets clear parameters for the kinds of jobs and the number of hours teenagers can work according to their age? It may be scary rummaging through a government website, but I decided to take one for the team.

If you’re reading this and you’re under 13, there won’t be many job opportunities available to you, I’m afraid. Unless your parents own a business (and are willing to let you work for them), babysitting, delivering newspapers, and acting seem to be your only ways of making money. You can also start working as a homeworker who collects evergreens and turns them into wreaths. If this seems weirdly specific, that’s because it is; I’m merely the messenger.

For all the 14 and 15 year olds out there, your job possibilities are much wider. According to the government however, there are some rules you must follow. You can’t work during school hours, you cannot work more than 3 hours after school, etcetera etcetera. To learn more about these hour limitations visit this website. Along with the amount of time you’re allowed to work per week, the government is also pretty specific about the jobs you are allowed to do. These jobs include retail clerks, lifeguards, and intellectual or creative work.

If you’re 16 or 17, congratulations, you can work for as long as you want. The world is your oyster, and as long as the job you want doesn’t involve hazardous materials, you are legally allowed to work there.

For any 18-year-olds out there, since you are no longer considered a child, you can work wherever you want, whenever you want, however you want. Feel free to work with those hazardous materials you were barred from working with when you were 17.

Now that we’ve got the legal aspect of getting a job out of the way, let’s talk about the big questions. How do you balance work and school? Why should you get a job? What does it take?

As someone who has a job, I can say that balancing school and work is difficult at times. I have a responsibility to my employer to show up to work, but I also have a responsibility to myself and my teachers to receive a good education. How do you manage both?

Junior Jac McCarty suggests working fewer hours than you believe you physically can. “You can’t put in as many hours as you think you can when you’re doing school full time,” she said. Essentially, while having a little extra cash and some job experience is nice, it’s not worth your grades slipping.

If you put in too many hours at work, when you get home you may have no energy left to get your homework done.

If you do manage to get the hang of balancing school and work, a job can provide you with a sense of responsibility. As teenagers, we’re in between the stages of living on our own and having our parents control everything we do. A job can help ease your way into living on your own.

You achieve a sense of responsibility that your parents just can’t give you. Sure, chores help boost responsibility when you’re younger, but a job means that someone is relying on you to show up and paying you to do a good job. This is a completely new sense of responsibility.

Along with this, a job gives you some spending money. Your first job will probably be around minimum wage (not a lot but it’s something), and with it,  you will be given more financial freedom.

Gone are the days where you need to ask your parents for coffee money. I personally suggest saving some of the money for the future. Whether it’s toward a car or college tuition, even the smallest paycheck can come in handy for a rainy day. I’ve also heard from numerous adults to start saving for retirement. It’s never too early to start.

The money aspect is great, but a job also gives you confidence. It’s nice knowing that once you leave high school, you’ll be able to function in the professional world. What’s more, a lower-stakes environment gives you room to make mistakes and grow as a person along the way.

With a job, you learn important traits like reliability. You need to prove to your employers that you are trustworthy; otherwise, you won’t be sitting comfy for long. Surprisingly, you also need to be consistent with your work. It’s okay to take a week or two to learn the ropes, and of course you’ll make a few mistakes from time to time; however, you should constantly strive for your work to be the best you can do. Finally, always show your manager respect. You may not always agree with your manager/boss, but they’re still the ones who pay you, and should be treated as such.

If after reading this you still want to pursue a job, great!

If you’ve never worked before, the food industry is always looking for more hosts, waiters, and dishwashers. Baskin Robbins, Chick-fil-a, and McDonalds hire kids above the age of 14. If the food industry isn’t your thing, maybe the retail industry is. See if some of your favorite clothing stores are hiring. If you like kids, try and advertise around your neighborhood that you’re available for babysitting.

Finally, if you want to work, great; however, there is no pressure to get a job right away. But if you do suddenly feel the urge to get a job, at least now you have all the information that you need to go at it with style.