Life Lessons from Employment

Native American teenage boy at a job interview with a resume

High school is a time for kids to spend time with friends and family, focus on school, and think about their future.

Whether it be for extra spending money or to build their resumes, many students also take the initiative to work at part-time jobs.

Senior Adam Murakami works at the YMCA Windward branch where he teaches swim lessons and works as a lifeguard three days a week. As an avid swimmer, teaching swim lessons comes naturally to Murakami. “It doesn’t really feel like a job… because I have fun and I enjoy where I work.” Murakami has no complaints about his job, but there are many instances where he has to sacrifice his free time to maintain a good work ethic. “[When] my friends are going to the beach, movies, or just hanging out, I have to go to work instead,” he said. Despite this, Murakami still appreciates the experiences his job has given him. “After David [Hixon] and I closed the pool one night, we jumped off the lifeguard stand into the water. It was pretty fun.”

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“It doesn’t really feel like a job… because I have fun and I enjoy where I work.”

Senior Adam Murakami (YMCA Life Guard)

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Senior Taylor Fukumoto spends her weekends working as a sales assistant at Levi’s in the Waikele Shopping Center. While working at a retail store may seem glamorous to teenagers, it can in fact be more chaotic and stressful. “Once at work, my manager came up to me and my coworker with an ‘assignment.’ He told us we had 10 minutes to grab clothing items from around the store and put together an outfit for a situation he assigns us with… I ran around the store aimlessly for 15 minutes, nearly in tears,” Fukumoto recounted. Fukumoto also says that many customers get upset at her for things she cannot control, like a jean size being out of stock.

Retail is notorious for being one of the most demanding and unrewarding minimum wage jobs, but Fukumoto has quickly learned to operate in the fast paced environment with efficiency and grace. She works up to 12 hours a week while maintaining a 3.9 GPA and participating in HBA’s Math League. It took some time before she figured out  how to manage her time well, however. “Back when I used to work around four or five days a week,” she said, “managing my school life was near impossible. I would get home from school at 4:30, go to work at 5:00, come home at around 9:30 or 10:00 , and then have to do hours of homework and studying for the next day.” Since then, Fukumoto has adjusted her work hours so that it does not collide with her academic life. She is planning on working there until she leaves to attend the University of Portland this fall.

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“Since I interact with many customers, I’ve learned to become a better listener and a better communicator.”

Senior Kayla Takemoto (Ward Theater)

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When Senior Kayla Vergara began to work at Liliha Library, she had no intentions of keeping her job.  “At first, my parents wanted to me get a job in time before the 2015 England Trip. Any money that I earned would be my spending money during my trip.” After she returned from England, she decided to continue working since her job fit well with her high school schedule. Vergara currently works in the children’s section of the library, where she helps with  “Children Story Time” and the “Preschool Readiness Program.” Vergara is grateful that her boss understands her busy school life. She enjoys many aspects such as a flexible schedule, her friendly coworkers, and the physical exercise she gets from shelving hundreds of books. Vergara hopes to continue working there in the coming months.

Fukumoto also speaks highly of how her job improved her time management skills. “I used to come home and watch TV for hours before starting any homework, but now, it’s become a habit to finish everything I need to do as efficiently as possible before doing anything else,” she said. “I would recommend that high schoolers get a job.”

Senior Kayla Takemoto works at Ward Consolidated Theaters. There, she manages the concession stand, ushers, and collects tickets. Takemoto is saving her paychecks to pay for college and flight school. There, she hopes to study aviation and become a pilot. So far, she has saved up for about one fourth of her total tuition. At first, she was hesitant to apply for the job. Thanks to her family’s encouragement. Takemoto took the risk.

Working at the busiest theater on the island has also taught Takemoto essential life skills. “Since I interact with many customers, I’ve learned to become a better listener and a better communicator. This job also teaches me team work because my coworkers and I help each other a lot.” Takemoto highly encourages all high schoolers to get a job.

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