Full-Time Student, Part-Time Worker

Working Students Discuss Their Lives



Photo from – higheredu.com

For at least a portion of their high school career, 30% of students have a job. High school students who have jobs learn responsibility, financial independence, and imperative social skills. There are a variety of interesting jobs in the area for high school students to explore.

Mariana Diaz, senior:

While Diaz works as a clerk at Albertsons in Cleburne, she also participates in the track events of shotput and discus. Her responsibilities at work consist of ringing up customers, bagging groceries, pushing carts, and replacing item returns to their correct spots.  

As it is her first job, she was anxious to start work because of being in a new environment. 

“I would get really bad stomach pains because I would be so nervous to clock in,” Diaz said. “The entire car ride on the way to work, I would feel like throwing up.”

 In the beginning, her main obstacle was an unreasonable manager who did not understand her situation.

“She would always get so frustrated with me because I didn’t know how to work the register,” Diaz said.

As she became more familiar with her surroundings, Diaz became much more comfortable with her job. 

“Always be polite,” Diaz said. “You never know who could come through your line.”

On one occasion, a man wearing a ski mask came through Diaz’s line, giving her quite the scare. The man was acting “jittery” and strange and paid for his few items with a $100 bill. After Diaz gave him his change in bills, the rest of his change was dispensed to the side of the register. He left without taking his coins, which is typical for customers. Ten minutes later, the man came back, aggressive, looking for his 14 cents. Diaz had checked out a few customers in the time the man had been gone, and one of the customers must have picked up the man’s change. He became angrier toward Diaz and began to yell at her. This, along with him repeatedly reaching into his pocket, worried Diaz. After calling for her manager, more change was given back to the man from the register and he left.

 “Don’t be afraid to start something new, especially a job,” Diaz said. “The pros of working definitely outweigh the cons.” 



Sommer Stetson, senior:

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Stetson works at Kohl’s in Burleson as a sales associate; Stetson is also in the Colorguard, Health Occupation Students of America, and art club. Her responsibilities at Kohl’s are to clean the fitting rooms, put away clothes, recover the store (folding clothes and making the store look nice for the morning crew), act as backup on cash registers when the lines get too long, and sometimes different jobs around the store that require different training.

Managing her time between school, extracurricular activities, and work can be difficult, but over time she has been able to keep up with her workload. 

I have found a great balance between all of the work and my extracurriculars [in order to] give me a healthy outlet to still do what I like,” Stetson said

Stetson keeps up with her work and busy schedule by using a planner and suggests any student with a job or even just with a busy schedule should invest in one.

“Make sure you can balance work and school. If you’re in extracurricular[s], make sure you can handle your schedules well,” Stetson said.

Stetson’s job consists of demanding work conditions, long hours, covering shifts at a moment’s notice, and busy holiday seasons. Customers can be just as demanding because they’ll be cranky about their expired coupons or a mismarked price tag.

Sometimes it gets frustrating helping customers or completing a difficult task,” Stetson said, “but it teaches me patience and problem-solving skills.”

Stetson’s advice to any student looking for a job is to know your work environment and form bonds with coworkers because they can help or hurt your future in the workplace. The most important thing is to create a healthy work environment.

“Know your worth!” Stetson said. “Don’t let coworkers push you around; try to find somewhere that will teach you skills for the future and will treat you well.”

Mercy Lewis, senior:

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  • Mercy Lewis raises morale in the workplace by goofing off with her coworkers.

  • Mercy Lewis continues goofing off.

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Lewis works at El Fenix as a hostess. Lewis is also in the band and on the yearbook staff. As a hostess, Lewis typically seats customers, but also works the cash register, runs to-go orders, and buses tables on busy nights. 

Having been at El Fenix for a year and a half, going to work feels like a chore for Lewis and she doesn’t enjoy her job as much as she used to. 

At work, I walk through the front doors and the smells of salsa and enchiladas hit me instantly and I regret not calling in,” Lewis said.

Usually, Lewis starts her shift slowly until the lunch rush hits. She has to prepare for a long shift of arguing with church-goers over long wait times or unsatisfactory tables. 

We normally create a wait-list system and people always fight me and say we shouldn’t be on a wait,” Lewis said. “At which point, I invite them to come behind the host stand and do my job for me.”

Once the lunch rush dies down, Lewis is able to take her break, frequenting the Burleson Albertsons for a snack. Occasionally, Lewis will enjoy a discounted El Fenix meal, then it’s right back to work.

I head back into the pit we call a restaurant and clock back in, and stare out the window wishing I could smell something besides fajitas for once,” Lewis said. 

Being in band, yearbook, and working at El Fenix can be a struggle because Lewis has little to no free time; what free time she has is dedicated to homework. This can take a mental toll on some, but Lewis stays optimistic about her accomplishments in her job.

“It’s super challenging but I think that’s what makes it fun; I love the feeling of anticipation before going to work or band,” Lewis said. “It’s just cool that I’m able to balance everything.”


Kaden Foster, senior:

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Foster has been self-employed for three years doing yard work like lawn care, pressure washing, and tree trimming. While in school, Foster participates in Agricultural Fabrication and used to be in track, but decided to focus on his employment during his last year of high school. 

Operating heavy machinery is part of most of his jobs and it requires quick thinking and good problem-solving skills. On one occasion, while working with one of his friends, Foster had to retrieve a tractor carrying 12,000 pounds of sod out of the mud.

“Thankfully the only thing it cost us was time,” Foster said.

Foster stresses that there’s no need to go through the stressful application and interview process of getting a job to get paid. Working for people is easy as long as you get to know the right people.     

“If you really want to make money and don’t care about having to work hard,” Foster said. “You can do exactly what I did and just start by asking people if they need things done.”

Being friendly and respectful can benefit you in ways you don’t even know. Foster uses these traits to his advantage by getting paid for them. 

“It’s easy to make money,” Foster said. “You just need the gift of gab.”