Students prepare for “real world”


Photo by Julia Eisen

WJ senior Nirel Gershwind works at Beefsteak at Montgomery Mall most days after school. One can see many different WJ students working at the mall.

Erin Jacobs

At around 2:45 in the afternoon, high schoolers are usually arriving home from school. Most are trudging up the steps to “begin” their homework, meaning they hang around for about an hour typically catching up on some Netflix or trolling their friends on social media before finally deciding to break open their books.

The time consuming, almost excessive amount of work and studying is enough for any high schooler to feel full to the brim, but some students have even more on their plates.

Being a full-time student is a difficult enough occupation and many students at WJ and in the whole country work as employees apart from school. It may not be a nine to five job in an office, but a lot of students work hard and splitting their time between their schoolwork and job.

As of 2014, about 16% of high schoolers had jobs, according to the Washington Post.

The number of students who work in high school is decreasing throughout the nation, but the community surrounding WJ offers many job opportunities of which a majority of students have taken advantage.

Being a part of the workforce at a young age can teach students valuable lessons that will carry out through the rest of their lives. Within the workforce nowadays, it’s always helpful to start developing professional skills.

Sophomore Ava Solomon works about 10 hours a week at Henry’s Sweet Retreat as an employee. She sees the many benefits of having a job during the school year.

“It helps teach you how a job is a commitment,” Solomon said. “It helps us learn how to communicate with others in a good and effective way.”

Many high school students do not work because they are already bogged down by the loads of homework, and don’t want to have another lengthy time commitment.

“Balancing your life around work, school and extracurriculars is difficult and takes time to get used to,” junior Taylor Kowansky said.

One common reason for getting a job at a young age is that most professional jobs favor employees that have had previous job experience, making high school the perfect time to get ahead of the game.

Unfortunately, it’s hard for students to balance a rigorous class load and a job.

“Luckily, my boss is very understanding and she gets that school comes first,” junior Michelle Sorenson Keim, an employee at Cold Stone in Westfield Montgomery Mall, said.

It’s not unlikely to go to the mall on the weekends and see someone from WJ working behind the register. The mall offers many opportunities to make money, and learning to be financially independent starting in high school will help students navigate better through the workforce when they are older.

Aside from jobs at stores or restaurants, many students work as babysitters or dog walkers, helping others in their community and still learning the commitment needed for a job.

On the other hand, students use these good opportunities as a way to pay for college, or to even support their families at home. It is not so much about helping the community and learning to be financially independent, but to use their jobs as another source of revenue to help with the financial burden.

Unlike some who could survive without a job and only take these opportunities to show that they are not 100 percent reliant on their parents, others view working as not just another task but a necessity.

“I pay half my family rent on a minimum wage part time job in addition to school,” an anonymous male senior said.“Most people don’t realize the reality that high school jobs aren’t so trivial.”

In this area, we are surrounded by students who are raised in a life of ease and luxury, who never have to worry about supporting their family.