Clocked in

Students describe their experiences working in a pandemic summer

Applebees+Restaurant

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Applebee’s Restaurant

Yness Martinez, Staff Reporter

Being a teenager can involve many things: friendships, drama, homework, and of course, actual work.

At the end of the 2020-2021 school year, students were ready to make an active summer schedule. As popular as summer jobs are, the pandemic left many hesitant to go looking. But some saw this as a great chance to make some extra cash. 

“Because I have a job, I can have money for gas, food, and going out with friends,” junior Katherine Carvalho said. “If I want to go do something like a river trip, I can do that.”

Carvalho started working at Applebee’s at the beginning of June, where she works as a hostess. It’s her first job.

“I don’t think it should be required,” Carvalho said. “But it’s a good idea before you go off to college to have experience working.”

Though she thinks it’s important to have that work experience, according to Carvalho it’s quite the schedule commitment. 

“I usually work the whole weekend,” Carvalho said. “And usually one night during the week. Most of my shifts end around midnight.”

Carvalho’s exhaustion was almost palpable. Her shifts on the weekends range from eight hours or more, but she has no intention of quitting. 

“My favorite part is the people,” Carvalho said. “The people that you work with support each other.”

Another student said something similar. Junior Allison Trujillo works at Menchie’s during her free time.

“On Saturdays, there’s a lot of young kids after soccer games,” Trujillo said. “And then weeknights it’s usually a mix of high schoolers and kids with their parents.”

Trujillo says it’s never really awkward serving her classmates; if anything it makes her job more fun. 

“For example, I’m there to serve other people and make sure they get ice cream and they’re happy,” Trujillo said. “That’s my only job; it’s nice to get that simplicity.”

Though Trujillo is saving for a car, her main reason for getting a job this summer was for a change of pace.

“When I’m at home, I’m a family member; a daughter or sister, so I have all these expectations,” Trujillo said. “But when I’m at work, I get to be something else.”

Though students appreciate the working experience, they all agreed that the notion that “the customer is always right” is not always correct. 

Sometimes people’s frustration is reasonable,” junior Myah Caraway said. “But there is always that customer who seems like they just want to pick a fight.”

Caraway has been working at Panda Express since the end of May. She started working for gas money and other general expenses.

One time we actually forgot to include a sauce a customer had requested in the drive thru,” Caraway said. “Then they came into the lobby and cussed out our manager. It was seriously insane.”

Carvalho experienced something similar at her work when some older customers acted inappropriately towards her, but it didn’t stop her from working. 

I kind of just brushed it off because they’re customers,” Carvalho said. “I’m not supposed to say anything.”

Employees tend to experience this kind of behavior daily in the service industry, but by working in it, students have a newfound appreciation for all those who serve our community. 

“Kids who work in the service industry tend to be nicer when they go out,” Carvalho said. “Because they know what they go through.”

Though it has ups and downs, all three students recommend getting a part time job if someone has the extra time.

I think that it depends on a person’s comfort level while working during the pandemic,” Caraway said. “It’s always nice to have some extra money.”