Working as a Student

One writer’s experience working during a pandemic

Vincent Yang, Media Staff

Working as a student was a personal decision that I made for myself to increase my independence. I wanted to stop relying on my parents and grow as a person. When I first started working I realized some minor difficulties that led to problems. For example, I can’t drive yet because I am 16 and only have my permit. This means that every time I go to work, I have to have someone drive me back and forth, which sort of  defies the definition of independence. Here are some of the challenges I have faced and the lesons I have learned. 

Working as a Student

When I started working I was also in school and in the beginning I kept up with my school work,  but started to work longer hours which made me really tired and I had no motivation to do any school work. I stuck to working and forgot about school mostly because the motivation that kept me going was obviously the money. I started realizing the effects on my grades and my homework. I knew that I had to do better. In the end, I realized that I had to sacrifice work for my education and asked for shorter hours.

The Real World

Working retail was my first job. I worked as a cashier and it wasn’t horrible in the beginning. As I grew more comfortable with the daily schedule going to work and what I need to do I started realizing that some of the things that happened  to me in the beginning were actually really annoying. I realized how rude people could be for the simplest things/ For example, many customers that I had to deal with didn’t understand the policies of different coupons or had problems with returns. Many customers that were very problematic didn’t want to hear what I was saying and wanted my manager, even though I knew that the manager would tell them the exact same thing. I realized that there is a significant respect focusing around age. I am a young person and many  adults did not want to listen to me. This was surprising to me. In general, I respect everyone as a human being. I found that, when it comes to retail employees, the public does not always return the same respect.

Covid Protection

Working in a large public space during covid was dangerous. We had many different policies like wearing gloves, masks, sanitizing our station and hands. Unless we were talking to a customer, we must stay six feet away. Even with my co-workers in the break room, when we took a break we couldn’t sit with our friends. We had to sit by ourselves and sanitize the table before we even sat down. One of the new policies was a temperature check every day before we even started our shift to make sure that we didn’t have a fever or any symptoms of Covid. Even with all of the precautions, it was stressful to know I might be exposed to the virus or even carry it home with me. The safety measures are supposed to make us feel better, but in reality they made me more fearful.

Challenges and Lessons Learned

When working retail I’ve faced many different challenges  with customers, myself, and my coworkers.  Some of the challenges I faced during retail were learning different jobs that were needed around the store. I learned these jobs in a of couple minutes, when honestly I should have taken 4-5 training days to even understand what to do. I realize that little things in words sound so simple but were extremely hard to implement for hours. You would think that folding clothes wouldn’t be so stressful, but doing it for 6 hours made it unbearable. Many different times there were customers  who wouldn’t follow the rules that we had in the store –  like wearing a mask or simply staying 6 feet away. I didn’t want to help this customer in fear that I might get covid myself, but I didn’t have a choice. In the end these challenges helped me grow as a person and taught me that maybe I don’t want to grow up!