By Skie Acevedo, Eagle Eye Staff Writer
When the average person looks back on high school, they’d probably remember the late nights with friends and the freedom of being a kid. But, in 2020, with the world fighting an active pandemic, teenagers have been faced with more and more real-world problems.
El Camino High School Senior Jenny Rodriguez has experienced the pressures of adulthood in the last two years, having taken on her first jobs to help pay the household expenses.
Before the quarantine, Rodriguez was working 20 hours weekly as a part-time team member for Popeyes, then, at the beginning of March, the state of California was placed in a stay-at-home order. By the end of that month, all her hours got cut significantly to just 10 weekly, eventually leading to one shift per week. Working one day per week is not ideal for someone who has bills to pay as an adult-teen.
“Going from a good rate of pay to one day a week didn’t pay my phone bill, my half of the energy bill, or allow me to buy anything for my household,” Rodriguez said.
Students that hold certain responsibilities rely on their part-time jobs to get them through with those responsibilities one takes on.
Many lost their job to the loss of hours or their workplace shutting down completely. Another senior student from El Camino, Esme Garcia, had to go through a job loss as her fast food employer slowly but surely cut a significant amount of hours down as well.
“At first my regular schedule consisted of four days a week, but around March and quarantine my manager would cut one day off each new schedule I saw,” Garcia said.
Although many unemployment benefits are in place during this pandemic many working students do not qualify for them which could end up leaving them in a tough situation.
These scenarios leave students with not many options but to be jobless or continue to look for a new employment opportunity which was little to few during the pandemic. All this while still having to turn in projects, essays, college applications, and overall just being a student.
“It was stressful, to say the least, having to worry about how to get back on your feet then opening a computer to so many assignments,” Garcia added.
The obstacles do not stop there though, as a new job for a student who is a minor requires a work permit officially issued by the school. With schools being shut down or having a high volume of calls and emails to get back on track, a students permit was not as a high a priority.
Although many students went through a rough patch during the shutdown, students like Jenny still made a way to push through for themselves. She explains that it was a struggle finding a new job in the fast-food industry since the shutdown.
“It became tough hunting for jobs with nobody being able to afford new hires, I finally started putting in applications to almost anywhere for about two to three weeks,” Rodriguez said.
When she got a call back from a fast food employer she quickly realized the change in environment adjusted around the pandemic as most had to face. Beginning her first week at McDonald’s, despite the strict regulations put into place that Rodriguez listed such as: employees must wash their hands every 30 minutes throughout their whole shift, change of gloves every 30, mandatory masks on both employees and customers which causes a great deal of commotion with anyone who declares they do not want to wear a face covering. Despite this, she got back to working enough to provide and pay some small bills for herself.
Rodriguez managed to gain back hours and go back to her regular wage being a part-time worker and a full-time student in high school as well. She sets an example for the changing structure in a student’s work life and how difficult it could be to maintain a level of balance between keeping an income coming in but still being a student.