For many a job means much more than money


Max Garfinkel

MESSING AROUND. Junior Sejal Prachand, right, plays with several members of the lower school late-day program. Sejal supervises the children as they do their homework, play games, and go outside. She is one of many U-High students who have jobs after school, and have to balance schoolwork with their jobs.

Grace Zhang, Arts Editor

As Sejal Prachand watches over 10 third graders in a Blaine Hall classroom, the students invite her to play against them in a game of Settlers of Catan. After their game, she continues helping the students with their homework and the teachers until the children’s late day dismissal.

“I think my favorite part is like when I get into the classroom and the kids are like, ‘Sej!’ It makes me really happy,” she said. “I actually like I really like working with these kids. I didn’t think I would really like enjoy it as much as I do.”

Working during the school year definitely takes time out of doing homework and participating in extracurriculars, but through working, Sejal and other students like Ruth Weaver and Luke Sikora have made some extra cash, learned skills and built meaningful relationships.

Sejal, a junior, works at Lab’s afterschool late-day program for third through fifth graders. 

After talking with Max Garfinkel, who also works at late day, she decided in December to get a job during the school year and to save to buy a guitar. Even though she has already bought her new guitar, she enjoys working at late day and not having to ask her parents for money, and she said she will continue to work.

Meanwhile, Ruth, a senior, also works after school, but at Seoul Taco, just a couple blocks from school on 57th Street. As of the beginning of February, Ruth said she usually works three days a week, from 4-11 p.m., on a schedule made every Sunday.

During her shift, Ruth works the register and takes Uber orders, delivers food to tables and mops down the restaurant with her coworkers after the store closes. She enjoys working with her coworkers who are friendly and have a lot of energy. She also recently started learning how to cook the dishes at Seoul Taco. 

On weekends, Luke, a junior, works at Fox Home Center, a lumberyard similar to Home Depot, in Alsip, Illinois. A 30-minute drive from his Woodlawn home, Luke’s job consists of cutting wood, selling products and helping customers. 

During the school year, he said he works on Sundays for nine hours, but in the summer, he works there three or four days a week. 

Luke started working here when he was as a freshman, right when he turned 15. His grandfather and uncle currently work there.

“It’s just kind of like a family tradition to work there,” Luke said. “It was really great from a family aspect because I used to never really see my grandpa or uncle very much, and now I see them almost every week, which is nice.”

Although Sejal’s shift is two hours each day and often tiring for her, she has adjusted to the job and found time to plan out her homework around it, as hours are flexible and she can take time or a day off when needed. 

Ruth had a similar experience to Sejal.

“For homework, I just do it during my free periods,” Ruth explained, “and it’s actually kind of made my sleep better. I’ll get really tired after working seven hours.”

Ruth explained that some businesses don’t tend to hire someone if they’re under 16, and that it was hard not to feel like just another resume in a sea of other résumés, but that one can broaden their options when searching for a job.

“I think if someone, like, wants to try it, they should definitely, like, throw a wide net,” she said. “I applied to several different places, like Target, Marshalls, Michaels, but it’s been a really good experience, and you make a lot of money.”

Through his job, Luke has gained skills in retail and helping the business.

“I learned a lot about how to present things you want to sell in a certain way that makes it appealing to someone who wants to buy it,” Luke said, “and it’s just a good experience and gives me a look at the real world — not just the bubble of Hyde Park.”