Get a Job? This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

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     Is it a head start on a career, or child labor? Why are kids joining the work force so young? Is it because they look up to their parents? Or because they have a lust for money? Is it because they want to help support their families, or because they are forced by parents to provide some of the food on the table?

I didn't work for any of these reasons, but because I was bored. On a normal school day I get up at 6 a.m., grab a cereal bar, lunch and go to school. I spend the day scavenging for the fastest way to get decent grades, finish my homework with hours to spare while watching "Friends" and snacking on potato chips.

Twice a week, however, I use every spare minute between bells to do my homework. When I get home I have 15 minutes to change and get a ride to work.

I walk through the restaurant doors quickly; I am three minutes late. After clocking in, and being greeted by a couple of the nicer waitresses, I take my position between a grimy, food-splattered sink and a dishwasher. It's where I'll be for the next five hours.

The 14- and 15-year-old workers at this fast-food restaurant work, illegally, after hours. They scrub and wash long after they stop serving food for minimum wage and a pat on the back.

But I love my job. The work is hard, the pay is low, and the people aren't perfect, but I love it. It might be the reward of my very own paycheck to buy whatever my heart desires, or the fact that I don't have to listen to my parents for an entire evening, or that every once in a while someone new and interesting is hired.

Many teens who work miss out on something others have had the privilege to experience. They are discovering who they are. Extracurricular activities take up time just as a job does, but usually with them, you interact with people your age. You are able to come and go whenever you want. It is, and is meant to be fun.

The young work force of America is growing. The teenagers I know who work are often too busy to do extra sports, clubs, and sometimes even homework. But these are what help you develop as an individual. Teenagers who work are spending less time with their friends and families. I am able to juggle my schoolwork, lacrosse, Model UN and a job, but there are many who can't. One friends was forced to quit his job because the late nights and lack of sleep were cutting into his schoolwork. To work at a job is hard, and it's very hard when you have other activities.

I understand that there are circumstances when people need to have a job. Most of them, on the other hand, think they are doing themselves a favor by getting a job young. They figure that they really aren't missing out on anything.

They are kids. They are kids who need money. They are kids who need something to do in the evenings to stay away from drugs and violence, as their parents might say, but really, they are just kids. Think about it. Why would you waste your life in front of a TV when you could be building your career? It is because most teens don't sit in front of a TV for even a fraction of their evening. Most socialize with friends or join clubs or sports.

Kids who work may be wasting what could well be the best time of their lives. You have only four years of high school. Take my advice: don't spend too much of it working.

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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