What it’s like to be a student with a job

Working a job while also being a full-time student can be the dregs, but, it also has its perks.

Emily D'Amico, Managing Editor

After spending nearly eight hours sitting at a desk, listening to teachers talk for hours while frantically scribbling down what they say, the average high school student wants nothing more than to go home and take a nap. At the end of the day, the student leaves campus, makes their way home, and spends at least another hour or two doing homework, then another hour of studying perhaps for a test the next day.

Going home after school is a reality for some,  but for others, it’s more of a dream.

Many students who attend Saint Stephen’s also have jobs, and (unfortunately) I’m one of them.  Maybe a glimpse into this experience can paint a picture of what it’s like working as a student, for those of you considering working.  Or maybe it will just get me a little empathy from teachers as finals rear their heads.

I work as a cashier at The Home Depot, store 6319, the one on University Parkway. Personally, I absolutely love my job. My coworkers are amazing people who I consider some of my best friends, and there’s always something interesting to talk about, whether it’s the dog that just walked in the store (and which we all took a five minute break to pet), or talking about the personal details of our lives during the slower moments of our shifts.

Okay, so I’m a little bit of an exception to the rule of going straight to work after school. Since I’ve been part of the cheer squad and the spring musical, I haven’t been working after school. I’m one of the lucky ones, where my store managers are cool with that and are willing to work around my school schedule.  They don’t mind me if I’m only working on the weekends.

I make up for it though, and a lot of the time I’ll work six to eight-hour shifts on both Saturday and Sunday. During the week of spring break, I spent more than thirty hours in the store.

Regardless, free time in my life doesn’t seem to exist. On the weekends, I spend just as much time in the giant warehouse of a store as I am at school.

Weekends can be rough, and since I’m spending so much time in the store, there isn’t much time for homework, so I often find myself doing homework on my breaks, squeezing in a 10-minute Membean session during my break and doing math homework on my hour-long lunch break.

I’ve even brought books with me to do any assigned reading during downtimes, especially when I’m scheduled to close the store and I’m put in a spot where I get one customer about every thirty minutes.

All that said, working a job on the side has taught me to manage my time and multitask. It’s a job that’s let me grow my social skills and interact with different kinds of people. But I’ll admit, it’s taken a bit of a toll on me, too.

It’s exhausting. Leaving the store after closing at ten, then having to be back at the store at eight the next morning to open is brutal, and can definitely put you in a sour mood. And being on the front lines of customer service means that no matter how bad your day is, no matter how tired you are, how hangry you are, you have to put on this front of being bright and cheerful. You have to act as you care about each one customer’s problems, and that in itself is exhausting.

Let me tell you though, breaks are amazing. You get to sit in the break room for fifteen minutes and you don’t have to pretend you care about their problems. Your power nap, drink a can of soda from the vending machine, and when those glorious, God-given minutes come to an end, it’s almost heartbreaking.

Coming to school on Mondays is hard. It’s likely I didn’t sleep much over the weekend, so there’s a good chance I have three or four shots of espresso in my coffee. I get to school and I’m grumpy and probably going to lay down on the floor of my first-period classroom and take a power nap before class actually starts.

Being a student with a job is exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world. I’ve made so many connections to my coworkers and they’ve become a second family to me.