With summer just around the corner, Wayland High School students are thinking about how they will spend their summer, and some will get a job. COVID-19 has affected every job in a different way, and while some high school students worked last year, others did not, making them brand new to the process.
High school students may get a job to help pay for college, save money, build a resume or simply to just have something to do. A study in 2018 found that 40% of 16 to 19-year-olds have summer jobs.
“I know it is not going to be a drop in the bucket for college, but it feels nice to be making money and saving money,” junior Finn Morneweck said.
After spending a lot of time inside during COVID-19, many believe that it is important to spend time socializing outdoors. Freshman Graham Schwendt is eager to work as a caddy at a golf course this summer.
“I am excited that it is going to be outside and I actually get to do something,” Schwendt said. “In retail, you’re inside. You’re sitting at a counter.”
The coronavirus has impacted every single aspect of working a job. Wearing masks, social distancing and sanitizing can make a job much more difficult. In a survey of 88 students at WHS, 13.5% of students said they are worried about working during the pandemic. Others are not concerned because people are getting vaccinated—more than half of adults in the U.S. are vaccinated—and keep their distance from one another while wearing their masks.
“I do not have any concerns,” sophomore Ryan Desmond said. “With thousands of people getting vaccinated all the time, I think I will be safe.”
Most young students only have job experience during the pandemic. The coronavirus makes it difficult for students to have unique opportunities that expose them to a new understanding of the job and life skills. For example, most freshman and sophomore students have not had an in-person job interview because they have all been online.
“I don’t have any job experience pre-COVID-19,” Schwendt said. “I am a soccer [referee], so that started last fall, during COVID-19, so I don’t have normal work experience.”
COVID-19 has changed the way specific jobs operate because of new protocols. New employees may have to rely on their co-workers to lead the way. While Desmond has not lifeguarded at the Wayland Swim and Tennis Club before, he knows that he will learn on the job.
“I think with the help of my manager, what I have been taught and what I will learn on the job, [I will be able to] do my job to the best of my ability [despite COVID-19],” Desmond said.
Students working all summer may have a difficult time connecting with friends and maintaining a social life. Morneweck spends his summers working on a fishing boat in Cape Cod, away from his family and friends. COVID-19 will make it more difficult for him to come home and visit his loved ones. Morneweck plans to communicate with his friends on the chat platform Discord and through Facetime. If there is a bad storm that could make it dangerous to be on the boat, Morneweck will come home to visit his family for a few days.
“That’s the thing about Chatham, no one lives there,” Morneweck said. “I do my best to stay connected through the internet and social media, but it is tough.”
Students might work during the summer to gain experience to add to a resume. Everything students do during their high school career could affect their future in college. Shwendt believes creating a solid resume with unique opportunities is crucial for getting into college and for future jobs.
“Just to have work experience on your resume is important,” Schwendt said. “You need to make money. You need to have work experience to go to college.”
COVID-19 has altered the work environment in many ways, and Desmond, Morneweck and Schwendt hope that their jobs will be closer to normal by the summer. Students working for the first time are excited to make their first paycheck and to gain experience working a summer job.
“I am actually really excited to work and make money,” Schwendt said. “A lot of my friends don’t have any interest in it, [but] I love the feeling of getting a paycheck [and] making money. It makes me feel really good.”