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Getting a Job in High School: A Dos and Don’ts Guide

If you’re reading this right now, I’m going to make two easy assumptions about you. The first is that you’re in high school, and the second is that you’re looking to be employed. If I’m right, you’ve come to the right place. Quick humble brag: I’ve been working part time after school on top of running this magazine and playing two instruments for about six months now – and while it was daunting at first, I quickly found a way to manage my time so I could still have a healthy sleep schedule. I believe you can too.

But you can’t manage your time on top of your job if you don’t have a job in the first place. That’s where we’re going to start.

1. Getting a Job

For me, getting a job was a bit of a trial and errors game. It took me – at seventeen years old – a long time to find an employer that was both flexible and allowed minors to work there. I had worked a job the previous summer and yet, at all the places I applied to, I wasn’t getting hired. This was pretty frustrating to me. What I ended up learning was: I had oversaturated my resume with information.

On my resume, I had put my stint as a camp counselor from a couple summers ago. I had put my volunteer work with a blood donor organization. While these are both valuable pastimes for let’s say, a college application, they’re definitely not what an employer is looking for. I suggest paring your resume down to: your education, any particularly sought after skills you have, and any relevant work experience you’ve had in the past. That’s where my resume fell short. Once I had removed the extra tidbits, I submitted an application to Subway – and within three days, they had messaged me for an interview.

Interview Etiquette: I’ve only ever done two interviews, so I can’t say that I’m an expert. But be sure to dress nicely, keep your phone out of sight, and answer in clear, concise sentences (minimal like’s and um’s! That’s a habit of mine I still need to fight off).

And finally, make sure you have a LinkedIn! Here’s another article I wrote about setting up a LinkedIn and using it to get a job.

2. Managing Your Time

Maybe you’ve opened this article after you’ve gotten your job and you’re worried about how working will impact your grades and your social life. I’m here to tell you: have no fear! After a few weeks of figuring things out, you’ll be totally adjusted to your new schedule.

I know when I first started working I was pretty bad about my time management. My shifts are usually 4-8 – the time I would’ve previously used to do my homework. So I’d go to work, come back, and start my homework at 8:30. That’s kind of a bad strategy if you ask me. After a few weeks, I decided to change my schedule for the better.

The first thing I did was do a little bit of research on sleep cycles and healthy sleep habits. While doing that, I came across this website. Sleepy Timer essentially helps you plan out your sleep schedule for that night. You can put in the time you need to sleep, the time you need to wake up, or what would happen if you went to bed right that moment – and it would tell you what time you need to sleep or wake up accordingly. I got into a rhythm of sleeping at 9 and waking up at 4:30 – a drastic change to my previous schedule. I thought I’d be drowsy, but sleepy timer calculates the correct number of sleep cycles you need to get a good night’s rest.

Waking up at 4:30 helped me complete all my homework before school started each day, and therefore, I could return home from work at 8, have a little downtime, and then sleep at 9.

You might also think that getting a job might mess with your social life. Well, during this pandemic I haven’t been seeing my friends much anyways – but because of online school, one strategy is to take your laptop over to a friend’s house and do school from there for a day. That gives you time to see your friends, and you can still go to school and work!

Another strategy I use – which might not work for everyone – is I FaceTime my friends in the back room whenever I don’t have customers. This is more difficult to do if you’re working at a big retailer like Target or Kroger, but if you’re in food service like me, calling your friends while you’re on break is a great way to make sure you don’t lose your social life.

Neha Magesh is originally from Washington State, and she now studies journalism at NYU. She is the founder and Editor in Chief of The Spearhead Magazine. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, running, baking, and writing.

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