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How to Pick Part Time Jobs in High School

Yesterday’s Kids and Money post by Miranda discussed the reasons why high school students should consider getting a part-time job. In Miranda’s case, it was a juggling act between her academic, athletic, and part-time job responsibilities. When I was in high school, I also had a job answering phones and running the register at a local restaurant for a number of years.

When she suggested the idea for her post, I thought it would be fun for me to write a bit of a rebuttal. Here are reasons why you shouldn’t be getting a part time job while you’re in school and, if you insist, how to go about finding a job that does more than provide a paycheck.

Remember Your Priorities

Priority number one for most students is to graduate with excellent grades so you can attend the college you want. That means that your “job” while in high school is to get good grades. Part time jobs may put a few extra dollars in your pocket but it shouldn’t come at the expense of your grades. You can learn quite a bit from working, I don’t dispute that, but whenever you slip in the classroom, you put a bit of your future in jeopardy.

How could part time work put your grades at risk? It’s all about time. You get 24 hours a day and any time you spend working is time you could spend studying. When you work, it tends to tire you out, which makes studying less likely (or at the very least inefficient).

Work for the Experience

If you do take a part time job, try to get one in an area that can improve skills that can be valuable in the future. If you want a future in medicine, it may be better to volunteer at a hospital rather than take a minimum wage job at the Gap. If you want to be in sales, it’s probably better to be in sales, rather than work the register at McDonald’s. There’s nothing wrong with working at the Gap or McDonald’s, but if you have the option you should trying to get a job that will teach you marketable skills in the area you are interested in, not just provide a paycheck.

If Not Experience, Network

I’ve heard countless stories from my friends who worked as a caddie on a golf course. Since most golf courses with caddies will be private clubs (and private clubs are expensive), the golfers you end up working for tend to be influential people in the community. If you aren’t able to get a job that will teach you skills you can use in the future, you might as well pick on in which you’re able to network with people who may be helpful in your future. Being a caddy can be tough work but spending several hours with someone is a great way to get to know them.

Ultimately, I’ve always believed that the number one job of a student is to learn. You’re trying to graduate with great grades so you prepare yourself for the next level. It doesn’t necessarily have to be straight A+’s but what you do now sets the stage for your next endeavor. Working yourself for a small paycheck is not going to be worth it if your grades suffer.