First-Time Jobs for Students


Erin Williams

Co-master lighting technician, Justin Snay, is on the paid staff of the McHale technical crew. The requirements to get on the paid crew are strict, as you need to complete at least 100 hours as a volunteer on the tech crew. Within the 100 hours, you need to complete 20 in lighting, 20 in the shop, 20 of your choice, and 40 working for a production.

The question many students ask themselves when they are ready to get a job is: Where? There are dozens of first-time jobs available for students though many struggles to find the best option for them.

Working at a fast food restaurant is a popular job with many students. It teaches students how to socialize with others, time management, multitask, and adapt. These are all things future employers value in their future employees. Employees can add customer service and conflict resolution skills to their resumes since they frequently interact with customers. 

“Jobs tend to pass a teenager’s mind when they turn the legal age to get a job,” freshman Nathalia Hernandez said. “In my opinion, the best first-time job would be working at a restaurant because it has different types of jobs to fit each person’s qualities. It lets you interact with people, which is very useful in a job force.”

According to freshman Saylor McClain, Sycamore Drive-In and Charbetts is a good first-time job for people who have little to no experience with working. 

“I think the best first-time job is at Sycamore or Charbettes because it’s easier for younger people, and it gives you more experience for other jobs,” McClain said.

Freshman, Audrey Graham explained it’s best to work in a job interacting with customers.

“I believe that the best first job for anyone should be a job where you work with other people as well as customers because it’s good training since most jobs involve other people,” Graham said. “It’s also good to base your job on a potential future career if possible. Your career goals could guide you to find a first job that will help you get to know people who could have an influence on later jobs. My personal first job was at Sycamore Drive-In, and while it doesn’t have much to do with what I want to go into, I’ve learned a lot about working together with coworkers and pleasing the customers. I believe it was a great job to get a feel for what working really is like.”

It’s quite common for popular fast-food chains to be picked as a first-time job as well. A fast-food restaurant job is a good way to gain work experience. Employees deal with customers, interact with coworkers, operate as a team, and handle tasks in the kitchen on a daily basis.

With more than 20,000 restaurants in the United States, Subway provides various benefits for their high school student workers. Subway provides health, vision, and life insurance, along with providing free food for their workers. (Subway Inside / Flickr / (CC BY 2.0))

“Subway is one of the best jobs,” freshman Nicolas Bibian. “You only work with one or two other people, and you get the proper social experience you’ll need. You also get really good insurance from working there.”

Retail work is another option for students. After working in retail, employees can pick up a lot of other skills. They can learn the abilities that many hiring managers look for in candidates by working as a sales associate or customer service agent. These positions help employees develop abilities in customer service, industry knowledge, business knowledge, teamwork, interpersonal skills, problem-solving, and many other valuable skills.

“I think the best first-time job would be to work in retail,” sophomore Aiden Snoeberger said. “You work hard and have that interaction with people, but don’t have the conditions of working in fast food. You may also have higher wages.”

Senior Isaac Sell explained the benefits of working retail.

“Walmart or any other retail stores in our area are good for a first-time job. They usually move your hours around if you play sports or have any after-school activities, and they also usually pay more than other first-time jobs in the area.”

A final option for a first-time job is to get a job related to school. With school-incorporated jobs, a student will have better time management when it comes to their job. They will earn more money and learn the same skills one would learn in other jobs.

Close to 25,000 Walmart employees, nationwide, are high school students. Walmart has recently started to offer benefits for high school students, including free ACT and SAT prep, subsidizing a large chunk of their tuition, and giving them the opportunity to earn college credit. (Up Close to Walmart / Flickr / (CC BY 2.0)

According to freshman Allison Miranda, working on a paid McHale tech crew is the best option for a first-time job.

“I would say getting on paid tech crew is a great job because you have some time to get experience and you get paid well. Plus, it’s a school activity, so you don’t have to conflict it too much with actual school.”

All in all, it’s important that the job a student picks fits them and their future.

“The best first-time job for a kid should be something they like,” senior Mari Lantz said, “They shouldn’t get a job to be with friends or something easy. It should be what they enjoy doing.”