Harrisites balance jobs with virtual classes

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For most Harrisites, school is a warzone of responsibilities. With various hodgepodges of homework, crammed schedules that rival a disorganized backpack, and the shared impending dread for upcoming exams, students’ personal and professional lives are overflowing with commitments. However, some Harristes still manage to juggle both the burdens of high school academics with their work in part-time jobs, even amidst the ongoing pandemic.

Some students work out of necessity, and others, to earn some extra money. Regardless of intentions or field of work, one aspect of employment remains a universal commonality; anyone with a job has various memorable experiences worth sharing.

In regards to the highlights of employment, senior Kanny Ho Fang said, “The best part would be the freedom and independence I’ve gotten.” Kanny works a variety of roles at her job in her aunt’s restaurant in Connecticut—including cooking, janitoring, and frequently acting as the hostess or cashier. “I have experience under my belt if I so choose to pursue any similar part-time jobs, and I have enough personal savings that I should be set for college without a lot of parental contributions,” she said. 

Sophomore Janaya Sydney, who works at Chipotle, finds fulfillment talking to customers, “One of the things I love about the job is the people. Last week, I was serving college students and they were telling me how they won their volleyball game. I enjoy moments like that where I can bond with customers and put a smile on their faces.”

Likewise, senior Roshan Patel, who works at Lyn Gift Shop in Lynbrook, said, “I think the best part about my work is getting to meet new people because I get to interact with some really funny and just nice customers every day. We have some regulars that would drop off a box of donuts to the staff, which was always enjoyable.” 

However, not every aspect of a job is ideal. While there are many experiential benefits of working, Roshan has expressed the grievances of interacting with rude customers. “Most of the memorable moments I have from working are with entitled people,” he said. “I had a customer come in a couple of winters ago… was wearing all luxury clothes, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, like the works. She came to the counter with two cards, both were 1.99, so I rang her up, and she saw the total and started screaming. I look at the back of the cards, and one of them says .99 cents on it, instead of 1.99. But, a while ago, Hallmark changed the prices and got rid of the .99 cents cards. So the card showed the [outdated] cheaper price, but the register rang it up a dollar more. A singular dollar.” 

For those working in retail services, there have been significant changes brought on by the ongoing pandemic. Sophomore Leanna Jiang, who has recently been employed during the pandemic as a waitress and cashier in an Italian restaurant, said, “I was scared at first when I started working, and I just thought to myself every day, ‘COVID is going to end soon and I won’t have to wear masks during such hot weather.’ Working was difficult during hot weather because of the need to wear masks and gloves.” Kanny shared a similar sentiment, and said, “We shut down the dining section of course, so it’s only been takeout and delivery. We need to have our face masks at all times, clean and sanitize more often, and really, just be more careful.” 

Naturally, Harrisites with jobs have to balance their commitments to employment with a  rigorous school curriculum. “I create a schedule for myself every week, where I allot the amount of time I will spend at work and doing my school work. It has been working so far, but some days it is hard to stick to that schedule,” Janaya said. Leanna also said, “my weekly schedule is Monday-Friday school, Friday (3-10 p.m.) work. Saturday is my day that I spend with friends, and Sunday is just a relaxation day or homework day if I didn’t do it earlier.” 

Contrary to the pandemic’s obstructive nature, many employed students’ schedules have grown more flexible due to the virtual learning space. “During remote learning, when I went to work, I would bring my laptop, and while I was taking my lunch break, I would do my homework or log into Zoom classes during then,” Roshan said. Kanny also said, “I currently work Saturdays and Sundays so I can’t do much homework those two days. But, I’ve been able to get a lot of my homework done during the week because of how much time I’ve saved in transportation, fewer classes, shorter classes, etc..”

“[Regarding] balancing a work and school life, know what things you can reschedule or drop, and know what things you have to get done,” Kanny said. “It’s all about prioritizing, and when you get a system that works, keep it.”