The double-life of a Sandburg student and franchise employee

December 23, 2015

Sandburg seniors Erin Pocza and Maddie Nicholson pose in their work uniforms next to a sign at Chick-fil-A.

Erin Pocza

Sandburg seniors Erin Pocza and Maddie Nicholson pose in their work uniforms next to a sign at Chick-fil-A.

To many of Carl Sandburg students, school is work enough. Listening to teachers, writing notes, doing homework, and taking tests for eight consecutive hours (not to mention extracurricular activities after school that can last anywhere from one to six hours) are considered work to students. Even the word schoolwork and homework, both of which contain the word “work”, are often used to describe the activities we have to do in school.

Because of this, some students may go through the school day and decide enough is enough. They head straight home, finish up their homework, and relax for a bit before going to sleep. Others dabble a bit in the domain of multi-tasking and join several clubs, after which they come home and scramble to have dinner and finish homework. Then, there are those who end their school day only to drive straight to their place of employment. It may seem like there is just not enough time in a single day for high school students to attend school and work, but many do in addition to taking on extracurricular activities.

Senior Tabitha Luculescu, a sales associate trainer at Old Navy, has been working for seven months and works fifteen hours a week on average.

“It’s hard to prioritize school over work. It can be hard to balance. [But] my co-workers are fun, and I like helping people find what they need.” She enjoys having a controlled schedule that way she can organize her schoolwork, but admits that closing shifts can sometimes complicate her time management.

Many Sandburg students work at Chick-fil-A, where the workforce seems to consists of a majority of Sandburg students and where customers don cow costumes on cow appreciation day to receive a free meal. Senior Sonia Brania works four days a week, about five hours a day. She says she likes her job, especially because certain co-workers are also her friends from school; additionally, she likes having the extra money and having something to do after school. It helps that Chickfil-A has tons of crazy and random activities that make working there fun. On cow appreciation day, “If you come in dressed as a cow, get a free meal.” Other fun parts include “making the food” and “making shakes.”

Tabitha Luculescu and Sonia Brania are not the only two Sandburg students who live a double-life as a sales associate. Students who leave school early for internship programs or for classes at Moraine have extra time to relax, finish up homework, or take up a job.

Seniors Ally Carey and Matthea Wong both leave school early for math at Moraine and spend their extra time participating in clubs and working. Even though they have a shorter school day than most, they still struggle sometimes to balance work with school.

Matthea Wong says, “Taking math at Moraine means that I don’t have many actual classes at school so I don’t get too much homework, but sometimes it is hard to get home from work around 10:30 and still have to stay up to study for a test the next day.”

While it can be overwhelming sometimes, working still has its benefits since co-workers can be fun to hang around with and since money earned can be saved for college.

Ally Carey states, “I truly enjoy my job. It’s fun to see a lot of people but obviously, I need the money because that college tuition is not gonna pay itself.”

Senior Alyssa Aurelio agrees, “At first, I thought it would be challenging to manage both work and school, but after a while I got the hang of it. It really has forced me to be more productive and efficient with my time. The best [part of my job] is that my work experience is growing, and I earn moneyto cover some school expenses like supplies and books, gas, and treating myself once in awhile.”

In a day that consists of twenty-four hours, many students manage to attend school, take on a job, finish homework, and spend time with friends and families. For them, it is not about how much time you have, but what you can accomplish in that time. Working may seem like a burden, especially in addition to working at school, but these students find the fun in their co-workers, in their ability to help others, and in their ability to manage both work and school.

“It’s fun to see a lot of people, but obviously, I need the money because that college tuition is not gonna pay itself.” – Ally Carey

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