Teens embracing perks of part time jobs

As sophomore Abigail Dvorak enters the Western Home facility, her smile instantly grows as she sees her favorite resident. Dvorak works as a food service worker at the local assisted living/retirement home. Although this is her first real job, Dvorak said in the past she helped friends and family around the house to make money.  

Dvorak said one of the perks of having a part-time job is the satisfaction she gets from purchasing her own things. Since Dvorak got hired in June, she hasn’t felt the need to ask her parents for petty cash. “Before I had a job I would find myself asking my parents for money to go out with friends, buy clothes and to get food. Now that I’ve started working, I don’t feel the need to do that anymore. Sure, my parents treat me from time to time, but there are fewer instances where I ask for money,” she said.  

Dvorak said she genuinely likes her job and the countless memories she has made. “It definitely comes with its trials like any other job, but when you open up to the residents at work, special connections form. Whether it’s the residents I help or coworkers that I’ve grown close to, my job has been so appealing to me because of the community I’ve found there,” she said. 

Though many students have part-time jobs once they enter high school, businesses all across Cedar Falls have been struggling to find employees willing to work. The legal age to start working is 14, so why has there been such an increase in understaffed businesses? Dvorak said students are definitely strong contenders for the next working population. “As of right now, not a lot of students are seeking out jobs. With the pandemic affecting how workplaces are staffed, it can be hard walking into a job that expects a lot out of you right from the start,” she said. 

Dvorak said the understaffed dilemma is a definite issue right now.  “It seems like every business, healthcare system and funded service has some kind of shortage. Especially since I work in a place considered to fall under ‘healthcare,’ it’s been a real challenge to keep all of the buildings fully staffed, but I have faith that things will get better,” she said.

Senior Alice Zhang works 21 hours a week as a McDonald’s crew member and a CNA at NewAldaya. She has been employed at McDonald’s since she was 14 and NewAldaya since the summer of her junior year. “McDonalds is a great starter job. I like the food. I like the people. They give out money for college students too,” she said. 

Zhang attended four mandatory orientation shifts to qualify as a CNA, along with taking several classes and tests. She said both McDonald’s and NewAldaya are great job opportunities for students, especially if they’re interested in the medical field. 

Zhang said any food industry or even gas station would be a great starter job for students. “I definitely think any business will be up for new hires right now; however, in order to become a CNA, you have to attend and pass the class,” she said. 

Zhang said having a part-time job as a teenager is incredibly important due to the fact that it teaches them responsibility, how to be independent and the responsibilities of money at a young age. “Also, teenagers like to buy things, very impulsively, and if you have your own money it’s just better,” she said.

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