Good, bad, ugly: High school jobs


Maggie Ward

Re-stocked and ready to go: Emily Bormann (11) displays clothes onto shelves in Dicks Sporting Goods as costumers shop.

Timmy Ryan, Sports editor

Working as a high school student is no new thing, but jobs continue to change and evolve each year. Everybody knows that COVID-19 has taken away many sports, clubs, and activities from students. Yet, there are still countless places for students to get employed, where they can make some cash, and experience first hand what it’s like to balance school and work.

Students work at a plethora of different places, from restaurants to retail to recreation. Some of these employed teens have had great experiences at work, and love their jobs. Others, not so much. Here is some of the good, the bad, and the ugly, of various high school jobs. 


Working has quite a few perks, one of them being money. Most teens aren’t working just to get out of the house, pay plays a role in where many students choose to work. Minimum wage in Illinois continues to rise, but not all employers care. Ask junior Monty Burnap, former employee at White Castle.

“They paid me $8 an hour, and that’s below minimum wage,” Burnap said. “The pay there was horrendous.”

On the other hand, senior Reese Isacson works at Willowcrest Golf Club in Oak Brook, and he gets compensated even more than he is supposed to. 

“I make $11 an hour, plus tips,” Isacson said. “Some of the golfers at the club tip very generously, and when you work the hours I do, the money adds up.”


No two jobs are exactly the same. The responsibilities at any different job location can vary. Junior Kendall Hennelly works at La Barra, an Italian restaurant on Butterfield, and while her job isn’t too challenging her opinion, it keeps her busy.

“When I get to work I have to clean the windows, and when I leave I have to wipe everything down because of COVID,” Hennelly said. “ As people come in, I greet them, ask for preferred seating arrangements, and get them to their table.”

While Hennelly has pretty standard duties at work, the same cannot be said for junior Natalie Blazyk. She works at Dazzling Diva’s Glam Mansion in Downtown Downers Grove. Employed as the assistant to her 23 year old boss, Blazyk has an unique role. 

“My responsibilities are to run the birthday parties, meaning painting toes and nails, applying makeup and glitter to the little princesses,” Blazyk said. “I also dress up as a mermaid or someone else, such as JoJo Siwa, to enhance their experience.”


Many high schoolers who work are grateful and appreciative of the people they work with, they enjoy working with people they like. Fortunately, junior Emily Bormann is employed at Dicks Sporting Goods, and she loves her coworkers.

“Most of the people who work at Dicks are either in high school or college,” Bormann said. “I’ve made strong relationships with these people because they’re so relatable.”

Junior Payton Janicki works with Bormann at Dicks, and also raves about the atmosphere created by her peers.

“I love my coworkers,” Janicki said. “I felt like I met someone new everyday and we always had great conversations.”

The same cannot be said for senior Brian Maish, who was formerly employed by Raising Canes. His coworkers were ultimately the cause of his departure.

“The workers at Canes were so toxic,” Maish said. “Nobody wanted to be there and they were always in a terrible mood, which would make me bummed out too.”

Apart from the others, Juniors Alex White and Timmy Galligan created their own business. They call themselves the “Backyard Barbers”, and do a variety of jobs for local families with the help of a few of their friends. They’ve done jobs ranging from mowing lawns and pulling weeds, to moving furniture for people moving into new houses. White believes that working with his friends is  one of his favorite ( perks to the job.

“We talk about random topics as we work,” White said. “From talks about grades and school to many Jordan vs. Lebron debates, having close friends there to pass the time makes the job enjoyable.”


Many of these workers are student athletes, or have other commitments outside of school and work. Nevertheless, school consumes the majority of the day. Isacson spends just as much if not more time at the golf course working as he does doing school work.

Working five to six days a week all summer wasn’t fun, so I barely had free time, but I understood it was what I had to do,” Isacson said. “I remember one week I worked 62 hours, including two 13 hour shifts.”

In Illinois, it is unlawful for minors to work over 48 hours a week, so Isacson was working far more hours than most kids do. On the contrary, Blazyk works minimal hours at the Glam Mansion, which has both pros and cons.

“I usually work 6-8 hours a week,” Blazyk said. “I have no work on weekdays, and I only work on weekends when there is a party scheduled.”

Hours can be different at all places of work, from length of shift, to total hours a week.  Timmy Galligan, one of the workers in the Backyard Barbers, loves the fact that he can work on his own hours since his boss is himself.

“It’s nice getting to make my own schedule with our clients,” Galligan said. “We have our clients give us their availability, and we work out a time that is good for the both of us. This allows me to give myself time to do homework and see my friends on weekends.”


Some kids love where they work. Whether it’s the pay, the responsibilities, the coworkers, or the hours, there are aspects of their job that they enjoy. There are also workers who hate where they work, and dread going to work. While he worked at White Castle, Burnap hated his experience, and claims it is by no means an appealing place of work.

“To say the least, White Castle was dirty, sketchy, and miserable,” Burnap said. “They had me working the night shift until 3 am, which is illegal for a 16 year old, they paid me below minimum wage, and the people were musty and gross. I even had a coworker who told me stories of him buying drugs off the dark web, I could go on forever but you get the point. This job sucked.”

 Burnap had a poor experience at White Castle, but the same cannot be said for many of these workers, such as Isacson. He believes a job at a country club is perfect for him, and would be for like-minded high schoolers. 

“It’s in my opinion the best job for a high schooler,” Isacson said. “I get to meet so many people, I’m working outside in the sun, and I get tipped. Doesn’t get much better than that.” 

Hennelly (hostess at La Barra) enjoys being at work, but also says it’s appealing because of the skills it teaches that will better her moving into the future.

“It gives me a real-life view into the world of business,” Hennelly said. “Also, it’s given me a lot of confidence talking to adults. This job has given me skills that will carry over into whatever I decide to do, and therefore benefit me for the rest of my life.”