In every teenager’s life, there comes a point where he or she reaches the age to qualify for some kind of job, becoming a working student. Whether it is working as a host or hostess at a restaurant, employee at a fast food chain or grocery store, or any other position offered to teens, any kind of work experience at an early age is good work experience. You make money, you learn patience (especially if you work in customer service), and you begin to create a resume for yourself that will open up even more job opportunities in the future.
But the daunting aspect of being a teenager with a job is factoring school into the equation. While building up a bank account is important, maintaining good grades is crucial because getting into the college of your choice is highly dependent on said grades. But have no fear! There are ways to balance out the life of a working student. Here are some tips I’ve come up with during my experience with it.
1. Work for an employer who respects the fact that you’re a student
I have a paid internship with a law firm in my hometown, and one of the first questions they asked me during my interview was how I wanted to arrange my work schedule to fit my college class schedule. In their eyes, my education takes priority. Finding an employer who respects the fact that you are still a student is extremely valuable. If you have a day that you cannot come in due to a conflict at school, they will be far more understanding than someone who doesn’t appreciate that you are still being educated.
2. Do not procrastinate!
For many, this rule is a tough one to follow. With social media, Netflix, and all the other distractions available to us at our fingertips, it’s easy to put off assignments and homework. Over the years, I’ve become a very determined student, so I rarely deal with the temptation of procrastination because time and time again, Thomas Jefferson’s quote has rung true in my life, “Never put off until tomorrow what you can do today.” I have always benefited from finishing assignments early, and since getting a job in college, this work ethic has been a tremendous help to me. It has kept anxiety and stress at bay.
Everyone has little pockets in their day when they aren’t doing anything in particular. Sometimes you don’t realize you have those until you look for them. I’ve found that those time slots are great opportunities to study or work on homework. Before you know it, you’ve finished an assignment, and it’s one less thing you won’t have to do in the evening.
3. Manage your time wisely as a working student
This falls under resisting procrastination because that’s the ringleader of wasting time. Once you have your school and work schedules ironed out, highlight the hours that you will have free during each day and then plan accordingly. For example, I’ve got an hour and a half between my last class of the morning on Tuesdays and Thursdays before I go into work. Typically, I spend that time completing one or two homework assignments. I’ve found that cumulative three hours a week of free time on those days to be a godsend because my load is a lot lighter when I choose to utilize those hours productively.
Your sleep schedule is also highly dependent on how you will operate on the following day so manage your time in a way that enables you to go to bed at a reasonable hour. I typically go to bed at 11:00 P.M. on weeknights so I can get up at 6:00 A.M. fully rested and ready to tackle the day. Very few things prepare you better for tomorrow than getting a good night of sleep.
4. Don’t over-commit yourself
This sounds contradictory to my entire article, since being a student is already a full-time job on its own and I’m encouraging you to also work, but after adding a job to your life, your schedule becomes very full. It’s easy to get burnt out and unmotivated if you overwork yourself. In this case, your grades and job performance can experience negative effects. If you find that maintaining a job as a working student puts too much stress on your life for the time being, let it go.
This kind of life is not for the fainthearted because it isn’t easy. You will know when you’re ready for it, and if you aren’t right now, do not feel ashamed or inadequate. I babysat all through middle school and high school, not getting my first official job until my freshman year of college. I wasn’t ready for that weekly job commitment and preferred getting calls to babysit every-now-and-then. But through growth and maturation, I am now ready for that level of commitment. *Never forget that school must come first when you are a student.
5. Try to choose something you enjoy
As a teenager, it’s hard to be picky when looking for a job, but if you’re fortunate enough to be choosing between two offers: one that entices you and one with which you are indifferent, pick the former. You’ll be thankful that you did, especially on days when school tires you out more than usual. It’s encouraging to go to a job that you like, even when you’re tired. I find that I gain more energy just by walking through the front doors of my work because I love my job.
6. Make time to relax
Whether you watch an episode of you favorite show before bed, read a few chapters out of a good book, or spend time with friends and family, being able to unwind after going to school and then working is a great way to recharge your batteries for the next day, other than sleeping. Understanding that you cannot find the time to relax but that you must make time for it is key.
I hope that my tips have been helpful to those of you who either have jobs in school or are deciding if you want to become a working student. I highly recommend it. Each day, I lay my head on my pillow feeling accomplished and satisfied with my day of work and thankful for all of the blessings I had been given that day. Even though I do get burnt out from time-to-time, God helps me get through each day, and He always has me back on my feet ready for tomorrow’s challenges.