Teens struggle getting jobs in Covid era; deprioritize school when they find one

Kately Diaz and Marissa Salinas

The pandemic and lockdown have both affected those already employed and the many on the verge of getting laid off. However, it is not a problem just for adults.
High school students have experienced difficulty when looking for jobs because the pandemic has affected retail businesses and restaurants, which is what the majority of teenagers typically aim for.
“My first job was at Chef Chen’s in February,” sophomore Brianna Huerta. “I enjoyed working there because they taught me much more than I believe a basic fast food restaurant would have.”
Since less people are going out to spend money, due to the lockdown placed in late March, businesses have a lower income from sales, and therefore less money to hire and pay employees. As a result, many got let go from their jobs.
“Unfortunately, since I didn’t have as much experience as other workers, I was one of the first few people who were laid off in early April at Chef Chen’s due to COVID,” Huerta said, “I was disappointed because I was really happy to get the job, but I understood that it was necessary for them as a business.”
She wasn’t alone. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the number of teens working during the summer dropped significantly compared to previous years. But while jobs are financially helpful, they require being able to juggle work and school life.
“Balancing a job and school is not easy, you have to maintain your grades while also going to work everyday, which is very stressful, but you also have to wake up early and stay up late because of work.” Huerta said. “I do miss being able to help my parents pay bills.”
Restaurant managers, like Taco Cabana Manager Silvia Diaz, have had their own difficulty when looking for new employees to hire during a worldwide pandemic.
“Lately we haven’t been hiring as many teenagers since their priority is school and they are only willing to work part time,” Diaz said. “We would rather hire full time workers than part time teenage workers that can’t dedicate the time,” Diaz said. “The money is scarce and we need to get our money’s worth.”
Many employees have been laid off due to a decrease in sales, some of which are teenagers, since their priority is school and can’t work for long hours, but for many, having a job is important.
Although the country has been faced with economical impacts and unemployment, many still have their door open to any possibilities.
“I applied to a couple jobs during the summer but unfortunately I did not get hired to any of them,” Huerta said. “Even in hard times, you still have opportunities everywhere.”