Why getting a job in high school is awkward (and how to deal with it)

Art+by+Stephanie+Houser

Art by Stephanie Houser

With your nerves finally settled, you stand near a side table, waiting eagerly to have your picture taken. You feel free – you finally have your driver’s license. 

Of course, most people aren’t aware of what follows: the draining of your already sorry-looking bank account. Suddenly, you can go anywhere, get food at any time, and it seems that food is actually pretty expensive in Granville. Now that you can drive, though, you can get a job. But take it from someone who works in downtown Granville – getting a job is awkward. But it’s worth it.

Going into a business, asking for an application – that already sounds awkward. You know that they know you’re a high schooler, and you feel subconscious about it (that goes for driving, too, I suppose). Once you actually get a job, though, your first day is overwhelming. I definitely underestimated how much I had to keep track of and remember. You’re also the newcomer into a family that has already been established. Especially in Granville, stores and restaurants have the same people working there for a very long time. And a high schooler joining the pack? When I walked in my first day, all I got was eyes of judgement from my co-workers (or so it seemed). It’s intimidating. 

I work as a food expo, so I take all the food out to the tables where people are eating. When I first started the job, I experienced a new feeling: I was quite literally serving people, and although it didn’t bother me when I was setting food down in front of people I didn’t know, when it was someone I was acquainted with, I felt wholly embarrassed. And upon speaking to other high schoolers who have a job, they all feel the same way. I don’t know why, but it felt almost degrading. 

Okay. So getting a part-time job in high school is humiliating? That’s definitely a controversial take. 

Ah, well, let me clarify. Once you settle in at your job, it becomes a whole other – and separate – world from people at school, or from other people you know. I learned quickly that, while I was working to earn a little extra cash on the side, most everyone else was doing it for their livelihood. Like I said, it’s a different world. You’ve entered adult-land. And so, while working, you feel separated from those people you know. But when they so rudely barge in, you’ll just feel caught off guard. 

And it’s awkward. Maybe this is just a Granville thing. But when I see people I know from school who come in, I’ll say hi and then pretend they don’t exist anymore. Why? Maybe it’s the pride in me, but I really feel weird about serving them. I’m taking their money for services right now, but tomorrow I’ll be sitting next to them in class. It’s a weird concept. 

What’s worse, I think, is when adults come in who you don’t know super well. And if they didn’t know you got a job, the conversation will go a little something like this:

Oh, hi! I didn’t know you worked here!

Yeah, I just started a couple weeks ago.

Cool!

That’s it. That’s the extent of the dialogue. And if they’re regulars, you’ll just awkwardly nod every time they come in. 

And I’m not a socially awkward person, but something about the chain of command just feels a little weird when you know someone who comes in. And with Granville, that’s every shift. (It’s also worth noting that I know for a fact this is a universal experience with high schoolers who have a job in town. So it’s not just me overanalyzing this experience.)

So you’re saying getting a job in high school is too awkward that I shouldn’t do it?

Absolutely not. It definitely is awkward, but it gets better. People will start to know you work there, so you won’t have to acknowledge it every time someone you slightly know walks in. Plus, there’s the money component. Even if you don’t spend every free moment of your day eating out somewhere with friends like I do, it’s definitely a good idea to start making money for college now.

And there’s your co-workers. If I haven’t belabored this point enough, it’s seriously a different atmosphere when you get a job. You get to know a whole new group of people, get the experience of earning a paycheck, and learn how to interact with people higher up in the chain of command than you. The work parties and occasional connection with the customers is worth it. Trust me. If you have time to kill, or need some money, I would highly recommend getting a job. 

If you need any advice, come see me down at Three Tigers.