Working while in high school is highly advantageous


Pictured above is senior Mori Tillman taking care of a to-go order at Olive Garden, her workplace. Photo taken by Mariam Hanna.

Mariam Hanna, Editor-in-Chief

In middle school, I longed for the day that I would be able to begin working. In Michigan, the legal working age is 14, but most facilities do not hire that young. Because of that and because of the inconvenience of having to be dropped off to and picked up from work, I decided to wait until I was 16. In January of my junior year, just a few months after my 16th birthday, I began working at Olive Garden. I did not know it then, but that day would change my life forever.

I worked as a host for several months before moving to the to-go team, where I am right now. Both these positions, as well as the guests I have served and the team members I have worked with, have taught me a great deal about myself and have widened my point of view. 

Working as an adolescent is valuable to an unimaginable extent, and it is something I highly encourage every single high school student to at least attempt. Aside from helping to build a resume, it builds self-confidence, strengthens one’s ability to socialize, forces one to learn how to handle criticism, teaches youth about the value of money, forces teens to learn to manage time, and makes better team players. 

One thing that I always, always, always say is that I have gotten unimaginably more  confident in myself because of working. I know that the many experiences of having to trust myself when dealing with a difficult guest and sticking to my ground, as well as  the times I have had to step out of my comfort zone to do my job to the best of my ability, are attributable to this. I used to be quite and scared to speak up, and working definitely changed that, but it goes even deeper. Not only can I now stand up for myself, but I value myself and my capabilities much more.

On a similar note, I have learned that not everything is personal. Taking criticism from anyone, whether it’s a superior, guest, or co-worker, used to upset me probably more than anything else could. I would view their comments as an attack on me and instantly conclude that they hate me now. With experience, I have learned that none of that is true. Receiving criticism does not mean I am awful anymore, it just means that there may a better way to go about something. 

Furthermore, socializing with strangers or acquaintances has become natural. I accredit this to working with people of so many different backgrounds and learning how to better hold a conversation with individuals with unique experiences. I cannot express how many times this has helped me in my life outside work, whether in a school or personal setting.

Prior to working, I would receive a bi-weekly allowance. Although it was technically my money, I did not have to do much for it. Because of that, I would not see the harm in spending it on all my wants. My thought process was “I have it, so I might as well use it”, which is incredibly detrimental. Once I began working and earning my money, I started to care an immense amount more about where my money was going. A 20 dollar item was no longer just a 20 dollar item, it was 90 minutes of time and hard work. I’m beyond grateful that I was able to learn the value of money before leaving home for college and having to survive on my own.

Money is not the only thing that I learned to manage through working; I had to be able to time-manage to be successful at school and still hold a job. In all honesty, this is something that I still struggle with sometimes. It was especially challenging because even before I started working, I would feel as if I had no time to complete all my coursework. I’ve learned that sticking to a strict schedule and making specific and reasonable lists is what helps me.

Both the positions I have held at my workplace require working with a team. Communication is vital, and making sure you are keeping up with your responsibilities is what keeps us going. If one person does not do their job correctly and efficiently, everyone else struggles. That being said, if something like this happens, it is much more beneficial to help that person out than just complain and wait for them to get better. I feel like many people do not fully grasp this, but working has allowed me to do so at a young age. This concept is one that applies to working in groups at school, and I know for a fact that I will use it in college and in my professional life.

Working in high school presents its challenges, but no challenge is too great. You adapt by maturing and overcoming them, and that is why I passionately encourage it. Holding a job as a teenager has almost literally made me a new person- a person who is better equipped to handle any lemons life gives me- and it can do the exact same to so many more people.