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The student website of Van Nuys High School
Van Nuys, California
The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

The Student News Site of Van Nuys High School

The Mirror

Balancing school and work: High school students discuss the challenges and benefits of working while in school

According to an Instagram poll conducted on campus, of the 199 responses received, 28 percent of students said they have paying jobs outside of school.
David Gonzalez one of many students working minimum wage jobs while trying to keep up with school.

The abridged version of this article appeared in the Feb. 2023 print edition of The Mirror. This is an uncut version.

As the end of sixth period approaches and the school day comes to a close, students begin to pack their bags and rush out of their classrooms. But for senior Devin Lautrette, the day doesn’t end there. 

As the final bell of the day rings and the hallways of Van Nuys High School come alive with the shuffling of feet, senior Devin Lautrette prepares himself for another grueling shift at work.

“I work at In-N-Out Burger, about three to four days a week, anywhere from four hours to eight hours a shift,” he said. 

As a member of the In-N-Out team, Devin Lautrette takes in-house orders, works the drive-through and is responsible for keeping the dining room clean and well-stocked.

After clocking out from his job at In-N-Out at 10 p.m, he returns home to tackle the homework assignments that await him. Despite the late hour, he pushes on, determined to make the most of his time and complete his work. His days often come to a close only after the clock strikes midnight.

“I’m fine with my hours because we get to pick our own,” he said. “I rarely feel overworked but when I do, it’s usually not because of the hours themselves but because of other things I need to do outside of work, like school assignments.”

On the bright side, Lautrette is satisfied with how much he is getting paid at In-N-Out. The minimum wage is currently $14 in California, and he is earning $18 per hour. 

Lautrette’s job at In-N-Out has introduced him to the working world and has provided him with experience that he can use throughout his life. His hope is to pursue a career in music; In-N-Out is just the start of his journey. 

Balancing the demands of a job and schoolwork can be an overwhelming task for many. Senior Kimberly Luna, previously employed at the fast-food hamburger chain Tommy’s, understands this all too well. She ultimately decided to leave her job, recognizing that the added stress was not sustainable for her.

“I wanted to focus on school because my grades were dropping,” she said.

With hours from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on school days and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekends, her schedule made it difficult for her to balance her responsibilities at work and in school.

When she realized the impact her job was having on her grades she sought to negotiate a schedule with fewer hours. However, her management was not accommodating to her request.

“The manager usually needed me to work either way because I was one of the only people who was good as a cashier and spoke English,” she said. “I was also the only teenager, so it was easier to schedule me since everyone else was older than 30 years old.”

After careful consideration, Luna turned in her resignation notice at the end of summer.

Luna was paid $15 an hour. She has put some of the money towards college and kept some for personal use.

Another student, senior David Gonzalez, juggles a busy schedule that includes working four days a week at McDonald’s. His responsibilities include bagging orders, working the cash register and dealing with customer complaints.

After school, Gonzalez rushes to work, clocking in at 3:50 p.m. and working until 9 p.m. Despite the tight schedule, Gonzalez is content with the balance he has struck. 

“I feel like my hours are perfect,” he said. “I only work five hours on weekdays and that’s enough for me to make a decent amount of money while having enough time to get my homework done.”

Even though Gonzalez gets paid $17 an hour, he feels it isn’t enough in the long run and plans to become a mechanical engineer.

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About the Contributors
Olamide Olumide
Olamide Olumide, News/Features Editor
From writing stories at the back of my elementary school notebooks to my unhealthy obsession with law-themed shows, (especially Lucifer), I've always loved telling and reading stories. As a returning staff member to the Mirror publication, I intend to explore my interest in writing in a more in-depth way as well as reporting stories in a dynamic and interesting perspective. Besides writing and law, I'm an absolute sucker for the kpop industry.
Rainielle Santos
Rainielle Santos, Staff Writer
Rainielle Santos is a staff writer and a senior in her only year of journalism as a News/Features writer. Journalism aside, she is in the Medical Magnet and enjoys learning about current or upcoming trends on social media. Her hobbies involve listening to a variety of music, volunteering,  and studying medicine. She is currently involved in Key Club as a Lieutenant Governor for the CNH District and is President of the Filipino Culture club. Rainielle plans to attend a four-year university to continue her studies in medicine. 
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