August 21, 2017

by Sumin Yu / Saint Viator High School 11th Grade

Before I came to America, I had worked at a fast food restaurant for three months. I had worked because I wanted to make money for my flight. I also wanted to prove to my parents that I could be independent and live by myself and that they didn’t need to worry about me. I learned so many things during those three months.

First of all, I realized that making money was truly difficult. Working in the fast food industry was extremely hard, both physically and mentally. I was not only unable to sit for 6 hours, but I also had to keep a facade for 6 hours and keep smiling. It was also extremely busy during lunch and dinner time. The worst part were the rude customers. They didn’t clean up their seats and just left everything on the table. I had to clean up after them each time, which just reiterated the harsh realities of work in the real world.

I also learned that receiving a good grade in school, didn’t necessarily mean that I would be a good worker. I studied hard and did well at school, but that did not translate to having good technical skills at work. I realized that I needed more skills, which I couldn’t learn from school. This experience induced my belief that high school students should have a part time job at least once. There are so many things that school can’t teach us.

Lastly, I learned how to manage my income. As my hourly wage was the minimum wage, my monthly pay was little. I had to save for my flight, and also I had to buy what I need, because my parents decided to stop supporting me after I started the part time job. Since I could spend my money on whatever I want, it became harder and harder to not buy unnecessary things. I would spend most of my first payment on hanging out with my friends; that night, I had a nice dinner with my friends and I payed the bill. After I found out that I had spent all of my money and didn’t save any money on the first month, I decided to keep track of all my spendings and write down everything that I bought. I could save some money on the second and third months. Unfortunately, that was not enough to buy the flight ticket, but in the end, I could help my parents pay the ticket.

Those three months were a hard time for me, but I can say that it was a really valuable experience. I want to recommend high school students to have a part time job. One day, we will all have to separate from our parents, and a part time job experience can be good practice for the harsh realities of the world.


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