With more restrictions on shoppers and more strict safety precautions in place due to the pandemic, many student workers have found working more difficult than before. (Photo courtesy of Justin Sullivan)
With more restrictions on shoppers and more strict safety precautions in place due to the pandemic, many student workers have found working more difficult than before.

Photo courtesy of Justin Sullivan

York students experience working jobs during a pandemic

January 29, 2021

When classes switched to fully remote last March, students found themselves with a lot more time on their hands. Even with the transition back to hybrid in the current semester, students are still done with classes by 1 p.m. on most days, 2:15 p.m. on Wednesdays. With no in-person sports, clubs or extracurricular activities happening until quite recently, more students than usual have found themselves applying for and securing jobs to fill the extra time during the day. 

“Less time in school has for sure made me want to work more,” senior Nora Foley said. “Especially without sports to attend, I need something to fill the time.” 

Getting a job amidst a global pandemic seems almost ironic, as many people found themselves getting fired rather than hired. For a high school student looking to make some money in a part-time position, there were many options open. Many students have taken up nannying, working in department stores, grocery stores, gyms, amongst other places and many felt it did not put a strain on their classwork. 

“I’ve always known I’d get a job my senior year, so I got one during the summer,” senior Toa Hofflich said. “I don’t think it’s impacted my schooling at all due to shorter e-learning schedules. Sometimes the unpredictability of the school year interferes with my work schedule, but overall, it hasn’t been a problem.” 

Due to the pandemic’s implementation of safe tactics like social distancing and sanitization, working at some places has become more of a challenge. There are fewer customers allowed in most stores, more severe cleaning practices and the constant struggle of getting some customers to keep their masks on. If anything, working during this time has taught York’s students how to maintain professionalism and deal with more difficult situations. 

“A lot of procedures and rules have become more strict, and my job description has completely changed,” senior Heidi Ward said. “Just recently our facility was able to get all the residents [of the funeral home] the first round of the Pfizer vaccine as well as all the staff, including the part time dining positions. I hope that they can get back to a little more normal soon, but I am grateful for a job where everyone takes the pandemic seriously.” 

Some students have tackled working virtually this semester, like sophomore Laney Toffler, who is assistant directing the Elmhurst Children’s Theatre production of Charlotte’s Web. The idea of putting on a show through a computer screen is certainly different than it’s been in the past, but Toffler is committed to providing her students with as rewarding of an experience as possible. 

“I am working as an assistant director, and we are actually all virtual,” Toffler said. “It has been so interesting giving stage directions and directing virtually. The kids are really engaged and excited to do the show even though it’s virtual. It’s been a great experience so far, and I can’t wait for the show to open.” 

Some students can agree that their time at work helps them decompress from their morning Zoom courses. Being out of the house has made others feel more relaxed and refreshed. 

“Working during the pandemic has taught me to be grateful for any time I get to spend outside the house interacting with those of my community,” senior Juliana Turner said. “I truly enjoy going to work lately because I get to talk to so many different people, which is something I used to take for granted.” 

Whether students were already working when the pandemic hit or whether they got hired during it, such a change in society’s way of living and interacting has really changed the normal high school work experience for a lot of people. Though the working process may be more difficult for some, there are definitely life lessons to be learned from such an adjustment to society’s new normal. 

“The tremendous impact that kindness can have on others, whether that be a simple smile or complimenting a stranger’s outfit, is something I will take with me,” Turner said. “These lessons that I’ve learned from working during a pandemic are ones of which I won’t forget for the rest of my life.”

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