by Emmy Liederman
With high school comes the desire for financial independence. Many students are eager to start working but aren’t aware of what it’s really like behind the scenes of that ice cream parlor or pizzeria.
Here are some things to keep in mind after accepting your first job.
Know your rights
According to the New Jersey Department of Labor, minors cannot work more than five hours without a 30-minute lunch break and no more than 8 hours/day and 40 hours/week. Senior Max Kleiman-Lynch, who worked 40–50 hours/week for a local business over the summer, said: “I think there are a lot of employers who take advantage of their young staff, especially in Westfield.”
It might not always be fun
As a young employee, it can be hard to gain respect from the staff. “We sometimes get stuck doing those silly and ridiculous tasks no one wants to do, like dusting shelves in back stock,” said senior Kayla Nuzzo. “And we can’t say anything because we don’t have authority.”
When it comes to retail, the approaching holiday season is arguably the most stressful time.
“The most difficult part of my job is nasty customers and having to always have a smile on your face, even when they’re really rude to you,” said junior Audrey Leonard. “When it gets really busy around the holidays, it takes a toll on you physically.”
Balancing work and school isn’t always easy
Students must also consider how a part-time job may impact their school work. “My employer is somewhat understanding, but ultimately it is my responsibility to worry about school, not theirs,” said senior Beau Heffron.
It also can be difficult to balance work and social life. “When I started working, I was put on a lot for both Friday and Saturday nights and I missed out on a lot,” said senior Lexie Riley. “I think it’s best for employees to be honest with their employers and to let them know if something is too much.”