Should High Schoolers Have Part-Time Jobs?

Illustration for article titled Should High Schoolers Have Part-Time Jobs?

This week, the New York Times's "Adventures in Parenting" blog wants to know whether it's okay for teenagers to have part-time jobs, given that everyday high school course loads increasingly resemble a Harvard MBA student's to-do list.


In my opinion, it's not only "okay" — it's crucial. I had a variety of part-time jobs during high school, ranging from a babysitter to a salesperson at a high-end clothing store (where I was paid below minimum wage and literally wasn't allowed to sit down) to an intern for the west coast editor of a fashion magazine. (Well, I didn't get paid for that one, but she gave me a lot of free clothes which I then sold to Buffalo Exchange, so it kind of counts.)

I asked the Jezebel staff whether they worked in high school, and everyone said yes, with positions ranging from locker room attendant at the community swimming pool to dishwasher to nursing assistant to newspaper deliverer to Gap clerk to tele-surveyer to dog-walker.

I get why today's parents would fear that part-time jobs could eat into studying time, since there's already so much pressure on high schoolers to succeed academically, but college is only a few years out of the rest of your adult life and, as too many of us know from personal experience, having a degree hardly guarantees you a job in the real world. I'd argue that the skills you learn while working as a high schooler — not just the money management and job-specific know-how, but people skills, like dealing with irate customers, coworkers, and bosses (thanks to my first ever boss, I learned how to assert myself and the importance of having a lunch break) — are just as important as homework, even if you're lucky enough to not have to work for financial reasons. Thoughts?

Image via JinYoung LeeShutterstock.



Wow very disappointed in this classist article. I am in grade 12 I would like to work but my parents have one car and both work full time, I live in a semirural area where there are few businesses, my family is working poor, right now we dont even have hot water we are boiling it. I go to an area know with a lot of upper middle class brats and a lot of them have jobs because they have their own car or their parents can transport them. I have found that the richer kids have an easier time getting jobs, theres definitely discrimination apparently because they have nicer clothes and can eat healthier than me they are a more worthy employee. I also have an anxiety disorder and am not in a rush to start driving but even if I did have my license my parents would not let me drive their only car. Your glittering generalizations are very shaming and do not apply to all teens. Apparently according to you based on your experience every teen that does not have this privilege is lazy and unmotivated. I worked in retail at 16 as a grocery store cashier, I would not want my children to go through the same experience, they made me clean dirty bathrooms even though it wasnt my job, didnt give me gloves when they wanted me to clean, didnt do anything when drunks came through my cash and sexually harassed me and even let an enraged erratic customer almost hit me. Dealing with idiots in retail ended up helping me choose my perfect career- embalming, so I wont have to deal with living douchebags like the writer of this article. Thats nice you were a fashion magazine intern too bad some young adults that get their clothes free from the food bank would not be hired because they cannot afford to look presentable to their standards. Teens have enough to deal with the course loads are huge as you dismissed in the first sentence. I'm glad you could juggle school and work easy and get through school some of us have something called a learning disability and believe it or not we aren't trying to be lazy we are trying to understand something that you can understand so easily. Good for you. Thanks for bragging and writing a useless article. I expect much more from a feminist site. Not to mention mentally ill teens who are dealing with their mental illness and may not be in the right state of mind to put themselves out there yet.