We spend a lot of time in school, about 35 hours a week to be exact. However, we really have more hours outside of school than inside the school. It is what we do with those free hours that can truly define us as young people in our formative years. In this new series, “After Hours,” I will explore what students are doing after 3:00.
If a student at LFHS was to describe his or her after school life, many would answer with time spent in athletic practices, games, clubs, meetings, events, musical practices, performances, studying, or other related activities. Some may even say that nothing happens out of school. However, as students move through their high school years, it becomes more common for students to add ‘work’ to that ever-growing list of activities that keeps them busy. There is a misconception that can surround our student body that students no longer work to support themselves or save for college, when personal experience indicates it is quite the contrary. While many students do receive support from their parents for college tuition expenses, informal surveys suggest that many more students than most people think are responsible for some portion of their future financially and work hard during their high school years to save. How they go about working for these precious funds in their time outside of school is the theme for this edition of After Hours, when working 9:00 to 5:00 is more like 5:00 to 9:00.
For some, work is work. For others, however, it is something else entirely. Some students talk about their jobs with a smile on their face, while others talk about it as a living hell that they suffer through every few days dreaming of what they could be doing with the precious free time they are consuming. Still, whether the student likes or hates their job, they continue to work for the end goal: the paycheck. These paychecks are a LFHS student’s lifeline and, without them, they might not be able to take weekly trips to Chipotle, or might even be forced to survive on only two grande mochas from Starbucks a week instead of five; or maybe they wouldn’t be able to save what they might need to for their future. Within a vibrant community like Lake Forest, there are many different types of jobs available to high school students. Thus, we will take a few minutes to explore some of the most popular occuptations, while also devoting some time to the more obscure.
What is a quick service restaurant without a kid behind the counter? Kids have been working at restaurants for as long as they have been around and it is one of the easiest jobs for an unskilled teenager to obtain. What is there not to like about it? Decent pay, relatively easy work, but most importantly for any hungry teen, the free food. Obviously there are some drawbacks such as some restaurants that require late nights on the weekend, infringing on a teen’s social calendar. At the top of the heap for restaurant jobs are those that also include tips. Matthew Croisant, a senior at LFHS has been a server at Egg Harbor for more than a year. Matthew not only enjoys the job because of the the work he is doing, but as a naturally outgoing guy, he also likes the job for the people he meets. “I often see at least one person I know or a parent of someone I know while working. It is always fun to serve someone I recognize and create a conversation.” Matthew also notes that employees in the food industry often need to communicate with customers, which provides perfect practice for students to work on other interview and conversation skills that may help in future jobs.
Lake Forest Park District
The Lake Forest Park District is a major employer in Lake Forest and Lake Bluff and has recently had an incredible surge of high school employees. Whether it is becoming a lifeguard at the beach, or serving as a coach for youth sports teams at the Rec Center, the Lake Forest Park District offers it all. Have you ever seen a picture taken from our beach looking out at the lake on a beautiful summer day? Who would know this was in the midwest? As far as summer jobs go, not many beat being a lifeguard down at our incredible beach. Getting paid to sit and take in the cool summer breeze seems hard to pass up for some high school students. But working at the beach is not for everyone. Big responsibility, long hours, and little action can make the job of lifeguarding boring for many students and, in many circumstances, this pushes them away from applying. For the students who do not want to guard but do want to enjoy the beach and lakefront, they can also find jobs in the snack bar, checking cars, or directing traffic. Working at the beach seems to be either the perfect fit for students, or their worst nightmare. Some students find the long quiet hours in the sun calming as they get their much needed peace and quiet. Others still find those same long hours a living hell where they are destined to die of boredom. Regardless, these jobs are among the most popular of all available in town.
However, beach work is not the only job that the Park District offers. For those who find pleasure in interacting with others, they often turn to coaching youth sports teams at the Rec Center. When senior Will Gescheidle was asked why he worked at the Rec, he responded, “Coaching has easily been my favorite job. The hours I have to work never actually feel like work. I think I am having as much fun as the kids playing the game!” The Rec Center system of employment is also the perfect fit for LFHS student athletes who can only work certain times of year as they work around their own season of sports. For example, if a basketball player knows he or she needs a job but is worried about the long season causing conflicts during their winter season, they can work at The Rec in the fall before their season starts as they can coach a flag football or baseball team in the spring. Many students say this is a great way to get back to a sport they may have left behind as they got older and come back to enjoy the fun.
Because the Rec Center employees so many students, coaching and beach work are not the only options. The last popular occupation for students at the Rec is helping with camps in the summer. Similar to jobs at the beach, working as a camp counselor also includes long, hot hours in the sun, but this time without the peace and quiet. In fact, it is often the exact opposite with dozens of kids running, screaming, playing, laughing–generally doing what little kids do–causing something just this side of chaos. If you sign up for a job at a camp you better be ready to deal with some crazy kids. There are other types of unique jobs that are also available, which is why the Lake Forest Parks Department will continue to supply LFHS students with jobs for years and years to come.
Over the years, when traditional jobs haven’t been available–or students have yearned for more–eager and ingenious workers have been motivated by the lure of money and the opportunity to start something of their own. Most likely, they are tempted by the ability to create something lucrative out of nothing. It is becoming more and more common for the particularly adventurous students to venture out on their own and create their own business in Lake Forest. The upsides of being an entrepreneur are endless, including creating your own hours, deciding how much you are paid, unlimited freedom, and most importantly, the aspect of being your own boss. These ‘perks’ are the driving force that pulls students into the life of a businessman or woman. Throughout the years, LFHS has taught some of the brightest students around and there is no question that the skills kids learned in the business classes at the school have been used when creating a business as a student. Senior Bryan Ooms, owner of Ooms landscaping, talked about how it was the freedom that pulled him in. “In the summer there is either something always going on, or absolutely nothing. I took advantage of this and was able to start my own company. That way I never had to miss anything because I could pick my schedule.” Ooms Landscaping was just a simple solution to a common problem. People did not want to mow their own lawn so Bryan stepped in and offered to do it for them.
Like Ooms Landscaping, many of the businesses students create are not revolutionary. In fact, many of the same ideas have been used for years, but why change what obviously works? As I talked to students who had created companies the one thing that stuck out to me the most was that the companies are not one-hit wonders. In fact, many have actually been around for multiple years. For example, Marc Antonucci and Colin McDonnell, the creators of Gold Row Detailing, have had their car detailing service up and running for two years now. As Marc talked about working he said, “I’m living every high schooler’s dream! I get to get paid for something I enjoy doing and most importantly, I have complete control over my schedule.” Some fear that if kids create their own company they will not get the proper experience of a real job for later on in life. Drew Foley, founder of Drone Real Estate, counters this argument by saying, “I have gotten more experience in a month compared to a year at a traditional job. Not many jobs around Lake Forest will have a high school student conducting a sales pitch.” Even the school has realized the potential of LFHS students, and several years ago created the Business Incubator class to allow students to collaborate and build a company that has an opportunity to compete for startup money. As long as there are students at LFHS, there will be bright minds thinking of new and inventive ways to make money on a warm sunny day.
With all the jobs Lake Forest has to offer, there are bound to be some jobs that stick out. Not all jobs are the same and some of the most profitable jobs can be the most uncommon. More often than not, LFHS students do not even know these jobs are available for them. For example, many students do not even know you have opportunities to work for the school. Junior Nick Wnuk fully took advantage of these job opportunities and is now the filmer for the LFHS sophomore and varsity basketball games. With his extensive background in film and photography he was the perfect candidate for Coach LaScala. As he talked about his job, he referenced it much like it was just any after school activity. “I don’t even consider it a job, I literally get paid to watch my friends play basketball.”Along with being the film guy, Nick is also a manager on the team, allowing him to hang out with the team and build the friendships like every other player. Even though the high school offers jobs to students, the spots are limited and often are taken very fast. If working for the school is not for you, then there are plenty of other options.
When you think of a high schooler’s job you often think of the common opportunities I listed above, but a receptionist would not be a common guess. Still, senior Eleanor Asma completely contradicts common belief and is now working for the St. Mary’s Parish center as their receptionist. Often jobs can provide real world experiences for students, but out of all the students I talked to, I believe that Eleanor’s job offered the most invaluable experience that many other jobs simply could not provide. “The job comes with a lot of freedom. People put their trust in me and it is up to me to follow through.” Eleanor talks about how the trust put in her shows her what it will be like later in life when there is not someone always looking over her shoulder.
Every student I talked to felt one of two ways in their job: they either loved it or hated it. With all the students I talked to, no one was as enthusiastic about his or her job as Daniel Beedle. While some students are athletes, others are scholars. Not Daniel, he is a producer/DJ. He started doing it as something for fun but it took off and he now is making money because of it. Daniel mentioned, “It’s not a job, it will never be a job. For something to be a job it needs something that consumes your time and takes you away from something you would rather be doing. I wouldn’t rather be doing anything other than producing.” Daniel has now expanded to working birthday parties and get-togethers.
No matter what job you land in, make sure you enjoy working there. Do not waste your time slaving away somewhere you hate. There are plenty of opportunities all it takes is some determination and willingness to put yourself out there.