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Senior for Hire This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

It was my last year of high school. I was taking almost all Honors and AP classes, but senioritis was setting in – a severe case. (Perhaps I should explain for the underclassmen: “Senioritis” is a near-fatal condition that affects thousands of high school seniors each year. Symptoms include a lack of willingness to get any work done and an overall absence of motivation.) Unfortunately, I fell victim to this affliction early in the school year. My schedule was loaded with fast-paced, homework-intensive courses, but I hadn't the slightest desire to put any effort into them.

At the same time, I felt I could never afford to go out and spend time with friends. I had no time and no money. How did solve both problems? I got a job. This may sound like a most ridiculous and counterintuitive solution: if I wasn't getting my schoolwork done, how could adding a job help?

Some may argue against teens working while in school, especially if they are involved in sports or clubs, but having work experience and the responsibility of a job looks good on college applications – and, as it did in my case, a job can help a student remain disciplined. I conquered senioritis and made money in the process.

My first job was at Cold Stone Creamery. For over a month I had been applying to restaurants and stores and hadn't heard back from anyone. Then one day I got a call from the owner of the local Cold Stone. He was looking for someone to work weekends, especially Sundays. I thought, This is perfect. I'll work a couple days a week and still have time for schoolwork.

The job wasn't difficult, but it was stressful at first. I had to learn so many things, like how to scoop and mix the ice cream “creations” for customers and ring them up. Closing duties weren't my favorite: washing mountains of dishes, sweeping, mopping, and Windexing every glass surface in sight, and emptying the garbage bins. It was tiring, but it was a job.

Not all of my coworkers and I got along; however, that is expected with any job. One of my shift leads, Glorianne, was a woman in her early thirties (the rest of us were teenagers). Glorianne was extremely particular about certain things: the dish water had to be scaldingly hot, ice cream had to be scooped a certain way so as to not make a huge mess on the cold stone slab, and all of the furniture had to be moved before cleaning the floors – every last tile had to be scrubbed until it practically sparkled.

I was sure Glorianne hated me when I started. The first time I worked with her, she lectured me about how she didn't goof around about her work, and that “a job is a job.” She emphasized, “I take this job very seriously. Your other shift leads may not be strict, but when you work with me, you'll do things my way.” I would dread receiving the e-mail with our schedule each week, and cross my fingers that I wouldn't be working with her. Gradually, however, I got to know Glorianne, and we became friends.

I distinctly remember one day when the freezer broke down and all of the ice cream was about 20 degrees softer than it should have been. We put a sign on the door warning customers of the problem, but a few still came in. A man in his forties and his son ordered a malt shake. He watched as I tried and tried to scoop the overly soft ice cream and whispered all-too-audibly to his son, “Let's count how many times she drops that ice cream into the other pans.” I wish it had been a joke, but he was seriously angry with me despite my efforts.

I was still pretty new, and I had never made a malt shake before. When I asked Glorianne where the malt mix was, the man scoffed. After I finally got the worst order of all time finished, the man complained, “It's not worth paying for a shake if you don't even know how to make it.” He slammed his money down on the counter and left.

I was mortified, because I'd never had such a negative and angry customer experience. Afterward, Glorianne and I talked for almost half an hour. She explained, “You know, some customers, unfortunately, will be like that, and you need to learn how to deal with them. I had a customer once who yelled in my face and filed a complaint because she ordered extra mix-ins and I charged her for them like I'm supposed to. You just have to be firm and explain that you're sorry but you're new and you're trying your best.” Her advice calmed me down and still helps me today.

I worked at Cold Stone for six months. While employed there I enjoyed not only having some spending money but also having an obligation that forced me to manage my time wisely. I ended up getting my homework done quickly instead of getting distracted by Facebook or Tumblr all weekend and scrambling to get everything done at 11 o'clock Sunday night. I also gained valuable lessons about interacting with people (thanks to difficult customers and tough shift leads) and learned work skills that would help me in later jobs.

Although you might think that working while in school would take up too much time, students can work a day or two a week, for a few hours, and still balance that with school. If you hope to get a job in college (especially given recent tuition hikes) it will help a lot to have previous work experience.

My job was one of the best parts of my senior year.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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