Uni students navigate employment in the pandemic

A quintessential marker of American teenagerhood has long been the high-school job. Uni students are no different, with dozens of juniors and seniors filling their summers and afternoons with entry-level employment. But with the job market plummeting and the dangerous coronavirus surging across the nation, many high-schooler’s plans were thrown into limbo. 

For junior Anna Huynh, who worked at Jarlings this summer, the pandemic made a summer job “less of a priority”. 

“It became a question of did I actually want to start before the pandemic lifted?…Because our family wasn’t sure if that was safe or not,” she said.

Junior Serenity Lilly, a current employee at Culver’s, had a much different response. Though also concerned for her safety, the pandemic only amplified Lilly’s desire to work. 

“It gave me something to do and it gave me people to see,” she said. 

Most employed Uni students felt that their safety was prioritized on the job. Senior Nico Hernandez, who works as a taekwondo instructor at local HMD Academy, detailed their regular safety measures, including hand sanitizer, temperature checks, extreme distancing, and a complete disinfection of the academy in between classes. 

“We do so much,” he added. 

However, Huynh and Lilly both expressed some level of unease with their working conditions. Huynh recalled, “a lot of times we were overstaffed, so it was kind of hard to socially distance even if you did have the masks.” Lilly’s situation was even more extreme. 

“Because it’s a restaurant, they don’t have to wear masks at all,” she said. “Which to me is very frustrating, but I have no control over it.”

Despite these downsides, these students were all happy with their pandemic work experiences. Huynh recommended seeking employment during this time to other students, as long as they are willing to commit themselves. “If you’re willing to learn…I think go for it.”