Opinion: Getting a job as a teen is necessary


Photo via Sydney Copeland

Sophomore Madeline Rivera tags jewelry at Plato’s Closet, a local thrift store. This is her first job ever and she said that she has learned a lot from it.

My feet hadn’t ached this badly since I went to New York City a few summers ago.

Walking back and forth through the now messy clothing racks I had tidied up ten minutes ago, I am overcome with frustration. Hangers are stuck in every direction on racks, and clothes are sprawled all over the carpet floor. 

A few weeks ago, I applied for a job at a thrift store. For my first job ever, I was extremely nervous and had no idea what to expect as I had never been interviewed before. I wondered: was a resume needed? How should I dress? How early should I arrive? Question after question popped into my mind, further fueling my already chronic anxiety. 

However, my therapist claims this is a good type of anxiety. This was my first time “adulting,” so it is only natural that I was, and still am, confused and overwhelmed with the ‘real world.’ Every teen should experience this feeling before college, and the easiest way to gain this is by applying for a job. During this process, I learned how important my social security card was, how bad it was that my mother lost it, how difficult going to the bank is and why having an ID is so necessary. 

Thankfully, I landed the job and began working the next weekend. Once I clocked into my first shift, I was in for a rude awakening. As a teen, working one of these minimum-wage jobs made me realize two things. 

One, the amount of respect that retail and food service workers truly deserve. These types of jobs are hard work. You are on your feet the entire shift with 15-minute breaks every four-to-five hours, and it’s strenuous not only for your body but for your mind as well. After each shift, I arrive home absolutely exhausted.

And two, I realized that this isn’t what I want to do for the rest of my life. Living solely on a minimum-wage paycheck is extremely difficult. Once I began working a regular schedule, I gained that clarification. I was more motivated than ever to enroll in college to gain the requirements for a different job to avoid that scary struggle as a whole in the future.

Working a minimum-wage can be a learning experience for anyone. It can educate people about respect for those who work retail or food service, people who help us everyday who we, as a society, tend to take for granted. I never truly thought about how difficult their job was until I became one of them. Personally, my first retail job definitely solidified my college and career plans, but until then, I’ll be vacuuming children’s snacks spilled on our sales floor.