Making it Work: Student Jobs at Chamblee

Millie Gotsch, Staff Writer

“Work makes everything just a little bit more difficult,” said Madalyn Klaja (‘22), an employee at Chick-fil-A and a student at Chamblee High.

Many teenagers, as they get older and begin getting part-time jobs, report an increased level of difficulty keeping up with their work, school, and social lives all at once. However, some students combat this by working minimal hours during the school year. 

“I am lucky enough to only be working one day a week because I am totally swamped. I worked Friday nights, but I tried to pick up shifts on the weekend when I’m not busy,” said Brian Roberts (‘22), an employee at Village Burger in Tucker. 

Most students work a lot more in the summer, when their free time seems almost unlimited.

“During the summer I used to work four days a week, but now I cut it down to two to help with my schedule, but I eventually might start doing more,” said Ryan Lovejoy (‘23), a barista at a Starbucks in Peachtree.

“In the summer I’m working all the time, basically anytime,” said Jamie King (‘22), a lifeguard at Echo Ridge. “But during the school year, I have to really only do Sundays or weekends.”

In order to make the most out of their shifts, many teenage employees work long hours on the weekends. 

“Usually, it’s 5 to 11 on the day after school and then I work an eight-hour shift on Saturday,” said Klaja. 

Even during the summer, a busy work schedule can impact the social lives of many high school students. 

“It did kind of remove some opportunities because I was working four days a week in the afternoons, but I still found plenty of time to see my friends over the summer. The biggest impact was fewer sleepovers, but I was already used to everything, due to COVID, like fewer interactions. So, once I got the job I was prepared to have less of a social life. And I ended up alright,” said Roberts.

However, many students ended up befriending some new people they wouldn’t have otherwise met.

“My social life is heavily impacted by my work, especially during COVID. Basically, all my friends are my co-workers, because [I] see them so often. I really think it’s always good to meet new people at work and talk to all your co-workers and get to know them because you’re gonna be with them for so long,” said Klaja.

When school starts, some students find it hard to keep up, while others adjust their schedules to match their availability based on the amount of homework they have.

“I have been trying my best. I’m not going to let it impact school as much as school impacts it, because that’s my priority, school is my priority. I’ve had plenty of time to do work on other weekdays, because it’s only Friday that I’m working again,” said Roberts. “And I found that it’s definitely the best day to work because it’s kind of carefree. I know that I can complete everything I need to do over the weekend, and I don’t have assignments most Fridays.”

The biggest problem that can impact the lives of teenage students working jobs is understaffing. 

“There’s a policy as a company, if you don’t show up for your shift, you automatically get fired, but there are some shifts that I can’t show up because I have other commitments,” said King. “So, if I know I’m going to miss a day, I have to find a replacement probably two weeks in advance.”

Klaja has had similar problems.

“Yeah, it’s been a problem when you have something you want to go do and you ask for time off and they say, ‘Well, that’s not really a priority because we need you.’ So it’s been a problem in a scheduling sense, but also it’s kind of difficult when you’re working and you’re doing three tasks that are supposed to be assigned to three different people but you’re doing it all by yourself. But at the same time, it makes you better, like multitasking,” said Klaja.

Students working in high school, while stressful, can lead to positive impacts for the future. Many lessons can be learned and many skills acquired. 

“[Work] helps with scheduling and it helps make sure that you’re on task with everything that you’re doing because you know you have this other obligation,” said Klaja. “You have to make sure that you get everything done on time so you can make it to work, but also I feel like the lessons you learn working and interacting with other people and interacting with customers really does translate to being a better leader in the school environment.”