Teenagers experience their first jobs during a pandemic


Amber Chia

Joshua Sun, a junior and employee at CVS Pharmacy, checks a customer out while following the appropriate safety precautions.

After spending copious hours with her Xbox, she decided to use this extensive amount of free time on her hands as an opportunity to search for a job. She furiously types “jobs near me” into Google.  After a two month process of applying and contacting various possible employers, she receives the news during an interview with Bed Bath and Beyond that they are interested in hiring her as a cashier and floor associate. 

“I decided to take a job during a pandemic because I wanted to save up money when I had the time to do so. Since I knew we were going back to school online, I knew that my schedule would be more flexible,” said Nicole Yarovoy, a junior at Carlmont. 

Yarovoy is one of the countless teenagers who decided to find a job during the pandemic. She recalls wanting to find a job before the occurrence of COVID-19 but never made it a priority. 

“I was planning to get a job ever since I turned 16, but never had the time to search and apply for jobs. My parents thought that getting a job would allow me to learn to support myself. When the shelter in place guidelines loosened up, I realized that I should prioritize looking for a job at this time,” Yarovoy said. 

Yarovoy wasn’t the only one who took advantage of their free time to find a job. Joshua Sun, a junior at Carlmont, began searching for a job at the beginning of June. 

“During the beginning of quarantine, I was inside my house doing school work, and I knew I needed an excuse to get out. I thought getting a job would force me to go out, allow me to be active in the community, and start gaining job experience,” Sun said. 

Sun currently works at CVS Pharmacy as a retail employee. His motivation to obtain a job was similar to Yarovoy’s, as both of their parents heavily influenced their decision to start working. 

“My dad encouraged me to get a job so I can familiarize myself with the working environment. I thought it would be a good idea so I could learn how to interact with different types of people,” Sun said. 

However, Sun’s process of finding a suitable job differed from Yarovoy’s. Unlike Yarovoy, Sun had an idea of where he wanted to work from the beginning. 

“A lot of places were hiring, but my mom works as a Nurse Practitioner at CVS, so it would be convenient for carpooling purposes, which is why I ultimately chose to work here,” Sun said. 

For many, their work environment entails a community that they have been an active member of. Kaitlyn Kwan, a junior at Carlmont, started working as a teacher’s assistant at Heartbeat Dance Academy in the beginning of September. 

Kwan started taking classes at Heartbeat Dance Academy when she sought a new sport to join after quitting her competitive gymnastics career back in her freshman year of high school. Two years later, she is offered a position as a teacher’s assistant at the same studio that she has danced in for years. 

“Heart Beat Dance Academy emailed me, asking if I was interested in becoming a teacher’s assistant. I was never specifically aiming to become a teacher’s assistant, but I have definitely thought about it. I also thought that this would be a great way to earn some income,” Kwan said. 

Although the offer was unexpected, Kwan expresses enjoyment in the experience thus far. 

“My favorite part of being a teacher’s assistant is meeting all the students. Through working with the students, I have learned how to teach others by understanding their thoughts first in order to give a proper correction, which can be applicable in real-life situations,” Kwan said. 

Kwan’s prior knowledge in dance classes has allowed her to transition easily into this new position, with a couple of adjustments to satisfy the guidelines of reopening.

“We have to wear masks while dancing, take temperature checks before we go to class, answer a COVID-19 questionnaire, and disinfect dance mats after class. Only specific dance genres are in person, and there can only be a maximum of 12 students,” Kwan said. 

For Yarovoy, the transition to a new job was not as effortless. The unfamiliar atmosphere resulted in her needing extra time to adjust to the new environment. 

“When I first started working, I was always confused and kept forgetting where everything was,” Yarovoy said. “I also felt intimidated because all of my coworkers are in college or have graduated from college, so I am the youngest person there. It took me two weeks to adjust to everything and be confident in knowing what I am doing.”

During the beginning of quarantine, I was inside my house doing school work, and I knew I needed an excuse to get out. I thought getting a job would force me to go out, allow me to be active in the community, and start gaining job experience.”

— Joshua Sun

Not only was the work environment a difficult transition, but with the start of a new school year came the immense homework load as well. The hardships forced Yarovoy to adapt and learn to manage her time properly. 

“It was a transition at first when online school started because I would come home from work extremely tired, and I was too exhausted to finish all my homework. I learned to manage my time well and plan everything accordingly in my planner. I try to get things done over the weekend and after my shifts,” Yarovoy said. 

Despite the difficulties at the beginning of her experience, she recognizes the attributes she has developed through her job. 

“I can’t depend on my parents forever, so having a job as a teenager has taught me how to work hard. Before I started working, I was also extremely shy. Now I can have conversations with people of all ages,” Yarovoy said.