The Seraphim

Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment

Emily Leinweber, Staff Writer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

“I absolutely love my job. I wouldn’t change a thing,” senior Daniela Valdez remarks. Valdez is one of the many teenagers involved in today’s work industry.

According to the Pew Research Center, in 2014 about 34 percent of 16-19 year olds were working over summer. In January of 2014, about 24 percent had jobs. Seasonal summer jobs are more popular with teens because of time off from school.

“Everyone in high school should have a job. It creates a lot of important skills for young people,” said Valdez, who has been working as a hostess at the Scottsdale restaurant, NoRTH Italia, for almost two years now.

However, that not may be the case for many students.

According to The New York Times, teens who work long hours tend to have lower academic performance. They are also more likely to be involved in delinquency, cigarette use, drug use, and underage alcohol consumption.

Having a job at a younger age can force teenagers to grow up faster. They develop important skills that are necessary for adulthood- such as time management, dealing with difficult bosses, having responsibilities, and money skills.

Employment can cause problem behavior, like early sexuality and the use of alcohol, cigarettes, or drugs, and may be seen as ‘claims to adult status,’ or indicators of ‘pseudomaturity,’” according to Dr. Jeylan Mortimer, professor at University of Minnesota. “Moreover, earnings from work may be used to purchase alcohol and drugs and to support activities, like cruising around in cars, with like-minded peers,” he said.

Valdez, who is a food runner in addition to being a hostess at NoRTH Italia, said, “I work with people from ages 25 to 30. Everyone I work with is funny, outgoing, and always a good time.”

She said, “There is a very diverse environment at NoRTH. Some of the people I work with are not a good influence at all and I usually keep my boundaries and avoid going out or associating myself with those individuals.”

Valdez said, “I think my job has affected my grades in a more negative way, just because I work so much that at times I put off studying or homework because I am either at work or I am too tired and need to get sleep.”

However, Valdez said, “My family life has been affected p


ositively because my parents think I have become more responsible and they value that I am learning how to manage my money at a young age and that I am a good example for my siblings.”

However, not all working teens are as lucky with a job as Valdez.


Senior Gracyn Rivera has had a tougher time with her job. She worked in retail, specifically at Forever 21.

She said, “I help people find clothes, I ring people up, I make sure people aren’t stealing from the fitting rooms, I put all the clothes back. After we close, I recover the whole store.” Before this, she worked in a restaurant.

She is an example of the negative effects of teenage labor. She said, “Well, I have an F in English class. I also do not have a social life unless I call off work and get written up. I barely see my friends anymore, and all my grades are dropping.” She worked more than 35 hours a week.

Eventually, Rivera had to quit her job after just over three months.

Individuals who are constantly going through seven hour days at school and long work hours often suffer from exhaustion and put off work. This tends to make parents and teachers disapprove of teenage employment.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics says teenage employment rates are falling. In the summer of 2000, about 52 percent of teens were working, compared to 33 percent working in 2009.

The decrease in teenage employment could be the result of a cultural shift, says Bloomberg Business, a business news, data, and analysis magazine. Teens are becoming more accustomed to not having to work for their money, according to the Bloomberg report. Parents and students focus more on grades, extracurriculars, sports, and community service overworking low-wage jobs.

School counselor Megan Erdely said, “A job should not take priority over school nor should it be too many hours during the week. Sometimes it can be hard to find the right fit when a student is well involved, but if it works, a job can really add to a student’s high school experience.”

Many teenagers think that colleges look for more enrichment than having a job. Therefore, in wealthier families, kids have no incentive to work when they don’t need the money.  

According to the Phoenix Business Journal, the local labor industry is not looking to improve for teenagers. According to Ryan Naylor, CEO of Phoenix-based employment service, the economy now has many older workers competing for jobs which were once considered entry-level, such as retail and food services.

“Companies want to minimize their risk,” he said. Naylor said high-schoolers must begin building their resume with volunteer work. According to Bloomberg Business, employers complain that millennials lack work experience prior to entering the workforce after college.

However, it is still unclear whether having a job as a teenager truly benefits a person when he or she moves on to a “real” job after college.

Erdely said, “I am not sure a high school job helps with getting a job after college. It certainly can if you know the ‘right’ people, but really the internships and service opportunities in college are where students can make their biggest impact with getting a job of their choice after college.”

One professor at the Survey Research Center of Michigan finds that high school students with jobs are more likely to have poor grades, behavioral problems, and drug use. However, it is unclear whether employment has actually caused these symptoms, or if it could be related to something else.

Erdely said, “I think it’s super important for students to have a job in high school. It’s great way to learn balance, time management as well as responsibility.”

Young entrepreneurship

Young entrepreneurship is a modern concept that is just developing- a luxury that employed teenagers did not have in past times. The United States has more and more billionaires, and more and more young entrepreneurs. It takes ambition, work ethic, and business smarts all at a young age to compete in such a competitive job industry.

Teens today have more buying power than ever before. said, “Younger Americans, those born from 1982 to 2000, have purchasing power of more than $200 billion a year, influencing as much as half of all spending in the economy, a new study shows.”

Kelly Mooney, president of Resources Interactive, said that children and young adults are responsible for roughly half of all spending in the economy today. She said, “A lot of retailers will think that 44-year-old women are making most purchasing decisions, but it’s really the 16-year-olds.”

According to Jerald Bachman, a research professor at the Survey Research Center at the University of Michigan, teens who work should put their earnings in a savings account. He said, “That will avoid the risk of what I have called ‘premature affluence’ – the risk of teenagers developing discretionary spending habits that they cannot sustain as young adults in college or newly in the full-time work force.

Forbes magazine reported, “If being an entrepreneur is hard, being a young entrepreneur is even harder. With significantly less experience than seasoned elder counterparts, young founders must be prepared to do all of the above. And they’d need to do so often sitting across the table from skeptical business veterans—potential customers, partners, employees, and (angel and venture capital) investors.”

One young businessman at NDP is Francesco “Cheddar”  Davi. He brings a case of water to school each day and sells the case throughout the day. At any given moment, students can text Davi, and he will readily deliver a bottle of water to any classroom for a dollar.

He describes his business: “I bring a case of water to school each day and try to make money off my friends. I make $20 a day and a case of water costs $2.” Davi is yielding a profit of $18 a day–or as much as $90 per school week.

Davi runs a one-man business and considers himself his own manager.

He said, “I like being self-employed because I’m not bossed around, and I can just do whatever I want. I can bring however many cases of water I want to school each day. I consider it helping kids because the vending machine water cost $1.50, and I only charge a dollar.”

He also has big dreams in the future to expand his business concepts. He said, “I hope to be an entrepreneur. That would be a dream.”

NDP students with jobs

According to an employment survey of NDP seniors,  51.6 percent of seniors are currently employed.

From the 51.6 percent, about half of the working teens are employed by a restaurant. One-fifth of the employed teens work as a babysitter. About 16 percent work in retail, and the rest work at some other type of job. Other job types include pet care, secretarial work and office jobs.

According to the survey, 75 percent of working students work under 20 hours per week, and only 10 percent work more than 25 hours per week.

The NDP working seniors average about $9-$11 per hour, with the Arizona minimum wage being $8.05. Most students said their money is spent on food and clothes, with some also contributing to a savings account. Some students also work to help pay for college.

The majority of employed teens at NDP reported they are satisfied with their jobs and do not think they work in high-stress environments.

Jobs in the past

How does their employment compare to that of past generations? NDP chemistry teacher Mrs. Melissa Riordan said, “My first job was in tenth grade. I worked at Haagen Dazs, the ice cream place. We were always busy. I don’t remember loving the Haagen Dazs job because we had to clean a lot.”

Riordan said, “I didn’t stay there for long because I got another job. I got hired at a restaurant called Noodle in a Haystack. They didn’t serve alcohol so I was old enough to work there. I liked my Noodle in a Haystack job.”

Restaurant jobs have always been popular for teenagers. They require little experience and are manageable for young people.

Riordan said having a job as a teenager has benefitted her. She said, “It was a good experience working with people in a professional environment.”

NDP theology teacher Mrs. Mary Margaret Reuben said, “I worked as a lifeguard, and I taught swim lessons to kids.”

She said she benefitted from her job as well: “It taught me how to go to work and gave me a work ethic. It taught me to go to a job and clean a bunch of gross toilets and then go home and clean my own toilet. Then I could appreciate when I had a job where I didn’t have to clean toilets. It taught me humility and respect.”

The job rates have declined for teens from the Gen-Xers (born 1965-1980) to the millennials (born 1980-2000).

Riordan said, “More people were expected to work back then. Most people played sports or had a job or did both. Nowadays some kids don’t really do anything.”

Reuben was not expected to work. She said, “It was my choice to work. I worked to have a car and pay for insurance and gas. The rest of the money I spent. When I worked during senior year I saved the money for college.”

Reuben said she believes more teens work now. She said, “People when I was younger and teens now probably work about the same. You guys probably work a little more because I hear people talk about work a lot.”

Anthony Carnevale, director and professor of the Georgetown University Center for Education and the Workplace, says millennials are worse off in the workforce than previous generations.

He said, “Millennials have an uphill climb. The economy has increased the demand for skills and millennials are the first generation that has had to deal with that.”

Carnevale says about 23 percent of millennials are underemployed. He estimates that it will drop down to about 17 percent in the next couple of years as the economy improves.  

He said, “The Great Recession will mark the millennials for the rest of their lives. It affects your earnings trajectory for the rest of your life.”

Jobs in the future

As the NDP Class of 2016 starts college, it is important to decide a major that is right for each individual student. Many students choose a major based on their career aspirations.

The Princeton Review reported, “Some students choose a major because it will prepare them for a specific career path or advanced study. Maybe you already know that you want to be a nurse, a day trader, a physical therapist, or a web developer.” However, a major does not always determine one’s career.

According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the average person in his or her 20’s switches jobs once every three years, and the average person changes career fields two or three times in their lifetime.

Erdely said, “At this time, it looks like the job market for the class of 2020 is going to be strong in certain areas.There is a lot of growth in the fields of data, therapy and technology.”

To many students and families, it is important to be entering a field of growth and strength.

Erdely said, “The jobs that are in demand tie in with current trends in society. With the growth of technology, marketing has just begun to explode as well as a wide variety of jobs in the healthcare field, environmental science and finance.

“With the rise in technology, there is a decline in the middle class job market. Jobs like postal worker, reporter, rancher and computer operator are predicted to be gone by 2020.”

While many students say they don’t intend to make a career out of they type of work they do in high school, they do agree that the experience gained is beneficial.

Senior Daniela Valdez said, “A  job is all about what you make of it and whatever works best for the individual. Personally, my job is a huge benefit to my life, but it may not be for everyone.”


Print Friendly, PDF & Email
About the Writer
Emily Leinweber, Staff Writer

Emily is a senior at NDP. She was originally born in Michigan and currently resides in sunny Arizona. She enjoys school, music, friends, eating, working...

Navigate Left
  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Ceramics, drawing and painting in growth mode

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Fine arts are on the rise

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Dialogue at NDP

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Solutions to sleep deprivation

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Are high school students getting enough sleep?

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    New ways to deal with technology

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Robotics and chess: thriving clubs at NDP

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Students show a passion for Christian service

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Christian service: an important aspect of student life

  • Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment


    Head-scratching high school athletics

Navigate Right
Voice of the Notre Dame Prep Saints
Benefits and drawbacks of teenage employment