Stress, School, and Schedules: How Teenagers Manage to do it All!

Kara Warren, Clubs Editor

   Being in high school already demands so much from students. It’s no surprise that maintaining a strong GPA, taking on leadership roles in clubs, and playing sports can call for late nights and mental health breaks. But for students who’ve been employed, managing all of their responsibilities can feel almost impossible, even if their jobs offer a few benefits.

   Typically, parents insist on their children entering the workforce early on—giving their children an opportunity to learn about the realities of having a job & to earn for themselves. However, since the COVID-19 pandemic, job shortages have led to an increase in demand for teenage workers. According to Forbes, “An April 2021 Employment Situation Report from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows the U.S. added 266,000 jobs that month. However, workers ages 16 to 19 accounted for 256,000 of those new positions.” In these situations, hiring younger workers allows companies to gain more dependable and flexible employees, while the employee retains more experience.

   What may shock many young workers though, is the less experienced a worker is, the lower the cost is to hire them. Many employers have found that recruiting from a younger audience means they’re likely to accept the salary and avoid negotiating potential benefits. 

   Additionally, teenagers without plans to attend a university are especially valuable, as they can immediately transition from school to a full-time job. Crystal Matthie, a Charter alumna, worked her way from being a Chick-fil-A team member to the official Training Leader within a year of employment. “In my time there, I’ve learned how to manage everything and perfect most of my initial responsibilities. Of course, time is experience, and since I was able to teach other people how to perform to higher standards, I was promoted to Training Leader. It wasn’t always my intention to be working at Chick-fil-A for so long, but it’s taught me how to interact with different people, and train others to work more efficiently and carefully.”

   However, other high school students have decided to get part-time jobs at companies with interests that align with their own. Casey Ameerally, a junior and employee at West Broward Gymnastics Academy (WBGA), spends the majority of her time working with younger kids. In the future, she aspires to be a Physician’s Assistant, and her time in the gymnastics arena will only improve her skills when working with younger audiences. “A PA [Physician’s Assistant] works very closely with injuries and nursing people back to health after they’ve been exposed. At WBGA, I work closely with gymnasts [healthy and injured] to help them stay fit and safe during their training.”

   Being able to handle a work schedule during the school year can unfortunately take up a lot of the time students may use for extracurricular activities, or even just being a teenager! The number of hours in a day does not change, and for students like Mia Olmedo, canceling plans has become such a routine, that school is now the time she sees her friends the most. The junior, also an employee at Tilly’s, expressed, “It’s overwhelming trying to organize my week and still allow time to volunteer, complete school work, clock in at Tilly’s, and hang out with friends. With so many things going on at once, there just isn’t enough time to get it all done and still have time to myself.” 

   Time for herself has always been one of Mia’s priorities. Having a clear headspace, she says, is the only way to manage any of her day-to-day tasks, especially when it comes to performing her best. “Many people don’t talk about the mental toll that can come with overseeing so many activities at once. My job at Tilly’s has added to the weight of my schedule, but I’ve been able to make it into a safe space to take my mind away from the stress of school.” With support from her managers and co-workers, Mia’s been able to figure out issues at school, while making life-lasting friendships. “I’m only one out of maybe a handful of other employees my age. Initially, I expected to be clocking in and out of work with no problem, but spending time with these people completely changed how I saw my job. It became more of an opportunity to socialize with non-Charter students, and hopefully ease some of the stress on their shoulders as well.”

   At the end of the day, high school is designed to prepare you for the “real world”. Whether that means achieving the greatest awards, putting yourself in uncomfortable situations, getting a glimpse into the workforce, or managing to balance it all. Prioritizing a student’s success and mental health is always the goal, but it’s easy to lose focus with other things in mind. Balance is key, and acquiring these positions, responsibilities, and earnings is just a small part of the big picture to set future generations to success!