Now Hiring: South students balance jobs, academics

Lily Sands, staff writer

To most South students, balancing schoolwork and extracurriculars seems overwhelming enough. But to many students, the idea of adding a job to their schedules seems perfectly feasible. In fact, an unscientific Oracle-conducted survey of 209 South students shows that 35 percent of students claim that they currently have a job outside of school. Students commit themselves to having a job because of the various advantages of being employed during high school.

Junior Jennifer Lee works at Cocomero Frozen Yogurt in Glenview, and has worked there since May of last year. Some of her main responsibilities include making bubble tea and coffee, refilling the frozen yogurt stations, and maintaining the cleanliness of the store. She claims that many aspects of having a job at Cocomero led her to apply last Spring.

“I decided to work at Cocomero because I love [frozen yogurt] and [having] extra money for myself,” Lee said.

Similar to Lee, junior Joey Petroline’s motivation for working stems from the benefit of making money, as well as a social component. Petroline has been working at Potbelly Sandwich Shop since July. During a given shift, his tasks range from making sandwiches for hungry customers, to handling money while working behind the cash register.

“[I decided to get a job] because I needed money for the summer and because one of my best friends works at Potbelly,” Petroline said.

Adding even more to her plate, senior Pamela Haralampopoulos has two jobs. Haralampopoulos works at Kumon Math & Reading Center and NSSRA, the Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association. A normal day at work for her includes interacting with kids of all ages while engaging in homework or recreational activities.

“[Having a job] gives you more to do and more to experience,” Haralampopoulos said.

Though Lee, Petroline and Haralampopoulos discuss the benefits of being employed while in high school, they acknowledge the struggle that occasionally results from having to balance academics with their work schedules. According to Lee, having a job has taught her how to find balance in her schedule and how to not let work have a detrimental effect on her academic performance.  

“[A job makes academics] harder, but [it] also [makes] it better in the [sense] that you find a way to balance your academics with your job and extracurricular activities,” Lee said.

With her schedule divided between two jobs and a rigorous academic load, Haralampopoulos notes that depending on the day, her jobs can take a toll on her coursework. However, at the end of the day, she strongly believes that the benefits of working outweigh the negatives. In fact, she believes her work has a therapeutic effect on her state of mind.

Both jobs are nice because when [I am] working [I] don’t really think about anything else,” Haralampopoulos said. “Any stress that I might be going through goes away because I am focusing on something else.”

In addition to learning valuable time management skills, Lee and Haralampopoulos discuss the heightened sense of responsibility they have gained from their jobs. Lee feels that having a job has impacted her ability to be independently responsible and accountable for something larger than herself: a business .

Along with actively learning lessons of responsibility during each shift at Potbelly, Petroline claims that there are some social benefits to having a job. One of these benefits, he claims, is the opportunity his job gives him to familiarize himself with new people in the community.

“I get to meet a lot of different people that [I] wouldn’t know otherwise, like the employees, but also the people that come to Potbelly,” Petroline said. “[I] get to talk to them and establish a relationship with them.

The immediate advantages, such as an improved sense of responsibility and exposure to new people, may seem evident to those who hold a job outside of school. What may not be as obvious, as Haralampopoulos describes, is the impact a job in high school may have on one’s future.

“It’s [beneficial] for the future because when [I] am looking for a job, I [will] have past experience,”  Haralampopoulos said.