Dozen hour days

Junior reflects on hardships working while in school have taught her


Photo by Anna Haley

It can be difficult to balance work and school as one gets older. It’s easy for one to start slipping, usually school.

As I put in the application for my second job, I thought to myself, “How will I manage making enough money and going to school at the same time?” Little did I know the storm of stress this question would bring me in the future.

Working through the summer with my first seasonal job did not challenge any of my time management skills. I have always experienced a busy lifestyle, something to do every day of the week, as I have always played travel softball for years, only quitting at the beginning of my sophomore year. 

One thing appeared different about work rather than playing softball though—I didn’t love it, and my friends couldn’t be with me.

As a fresh 16 year old, I worked close to forty hours a week during the summer, in immense heat and underpaid. I felt exhausted to the point where I would come home, take a shower and lie in bed. 

Only on one hand can I count the number of times that I saw my friends throughout this time. I never went out of the house with my friends, nor did I ever have energy to do anything else. 

Having a good work ethic means managers taking advantage of you, scheduling you an abundance of hours you can’t handle and not making enough money, all because you seem to be the only one who cares. 

My social life and dignity ceased to exist. I wanted to quit. However, my mother said to me everytime I came to a challenge, “Quitting something you made a commitment to finish brings bad karma, Anna.” So I stayed. 

Although I have never loved staying at people’s houses, and prefer to go home at night, I still needed the social interaction to be happy within myself. My solution? Find a new job. 

I applied for my second job exactly one month before my junior year started. I got the interview and the job. I thought it would be a laid back job to be able to make money and have fun at the same time; little did I know I would learn the biggest lessons of my life within the next month. 

School started, I looked at my work schedule, devastated to find that I happened to be scheduled at 4pm the first day of school. I have never worked during school  and quickly realized I lack the skills to help me balance my work and school life.

I found myself getting off at 10, my former bedtime, and doing my homework absolutely miserable. Not to say I didn’t have fun because I did, but my days lasted 16 hours during the school week.

I felt exhausted, yet again. 

Junior year has held its challenges. Normally a straight-A student who has never struggled, I felt as if I got thrown into the deep end, drowning. Re-evaluation appeared necessary in order for me to make it through. I personally chose to only work on the weekends, which took school in an entirely different, positive, direction.

A tolerable amount of hours a week has led me to have a better school year. I am making money, along with learning how to spend and save it. Never have I learned as many life skills as I have while working and going to school at the same time. While there have seemed to be hardships that almost made me give up, committing to this job meant I needed to stick it out for my personal sake of mind.

It may have seemed negative at the beginning, but the lessons learned outweigh that, and I now enjoy a nice work-school life balance during my process of becoming an adult. I would recommend it to anybody, but warn them of the hardships and commitment it takes to make it work.

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