High school age is an important stage in the lives of young people. It is also the most crucial age, as they released from the care and security of their parents to the autonomy and independence that come with adulthood. At this stage, the choice of further education seems to be the most imperative decision that parents and the young adults have to make.
It presents a paradoxical situation as education, maturation and work experience are all important to them. The proponent argues that getting a first part time or full time job gives students a possibility to acquire new skills such as responsibility, self confidence, time management and entrepreneurship. The first job can be the first step in developing future career.
However, critics argue that working in fast food restaurants play no part in developing the student’s career. Though the research done by Devine indicates that most parents support the idea of teenagers working, this may have detrimental effects to their careers and academics in the long run (16). Therefore, high school students should not be allowed to work in fast food restaurants.
Schlosser’s book, Fast Food Nation, exposes the difficulties and problems that teenagers face when working in these fast food restaurants (32). More often, these students suffer from depression, neglect school assignments and develop a negative attitude to work. According to Schlosser, students’ academic and professional careers are negatively affected by part time jobs (33).
Schlosser’s book documents a story of Elisa Zamolt which is a case study of the stress and frustration faced by high school students working in the restaurants. Quoting from Schlosser book; “Teenagers have been the perfect candidates for these jobs, not only because they are less expensive to hire than adults, but also because their youthful inexperience makes them easier to control” (Schlosser, 30).
On the other hand, Devine’s study shows that 90% of the parents support high school students working in restaurants and service sectors (16). However, his work also documents contradicting arguments by Prof. Hendry who states that, though these skills are important, students working in these restaurants end up becoming frustrated as skills directly related to their career paths are not engrained during this process.
In the words of Prof. Hendry “it is up to the society to ensure it doesn’t just end at 20 or 21 and that there are other outlets so their skills can be transferred into more serious occupations” (Devine 16). It is important that parents and teachers guide students towards their chosen career paths. In addition, most of the life skills can be acquired by other ways, such as; training, seminars, participation in voluntary services and through education.
One main argument put forward by critics, and supported in this work, is the fact that involvement of these students in these jobs takes most of their academic time. As a result, students fail to attain their academic achievements and become frustrated as these jobs do not present opportunities to advance. Only students with career paths in the hospitality sector should work at these restaurants in is line with the hotel industry.
Though these part time jobs are good, they should be in line with an individual’s career path. For example, students aspiring to become doctors and nurses should be employed at health facilities. In this way, they will not only gain life skills such as self confidence and responsibility, but also become skilled in their career paths.
Part time jobs are encouraged since they prepare individuals for adult roles and responsibilities. However, working in these restaurants fails to provide a quantifiable justification that students have attained psychological maturity. Not only should such employments inculcate maturity, but should also encourage students to continue with their studies and attain their career aspiration.
This is however not the case as these fast food restaurants only exploit the teenagers to their advantage. Not all high school students would want to become fast food chain managers, it is therefore imperative that high school students should first gain academic excellence and then work in their desired fields where they have more opportunities for advancing in their careers (Marsh and Kleitman 333).
Most of the examples presented in the Devine’s article document stories of success of high school students who took up part time employment (16).
Interestingly, the article does not evaluate how these individuals performed at school or whether they continued their career paths in the hospitality industry or in their fields of specialization. Such factors are important, if not critical, for this evaluation. Most studies focus on stories of success without revealing the inverse nature of employment while being in high school. (Warren and LePore 3).
In conclusion, though part time jobs are being encouraged by parents as being considered as important step in transforming teenagers into adults, students and parents should be cautioned that such employment hinders successful academic and career development of most students.
Teenagers should be encouraged to undertake part time jobs in organizations that are closely related to their future careers. In addition, high school students should be advised that education and their careers are more important as compared to working at fast food restaurants.
Devine, Darren. “Part time Job is good for Your Teenager’s Growing-up.” Western Mail 10 July. 2006:16. Print.
Marsh, Herbert and Sabina Kleitman.“Consequences of Employment during High School: Character Building, Subversion of Academic Goals, Or a Threshold?” American Educational Research Journal 42.2 (2005):331-339.Print.
Schlosser, Eric. Fast Food Nation: What the All-American Meal Is Doing To the World, London: Penguin books, 2002. Print.
Warren, Robert and LePore Paul. Employment during High School: Consequences for Students’ Grades in Academic Courses, Los Angeles: University of California, 2000. Print.