SJC students balance jobs and school

Junior year at St. John’s is packed with SAT prep, AP courses, and the pressure to perform well for college applications. Additionally, many students participate in a sport or club that takes up significant time. Because of this, few students have time for a job. However, these three Juniors have found a way to fit work into their busy schedules.

Allie Vasquez

Allie Vasquez ‘21 works at Merrifield Garden Center, where she spends most of her time behind the counter as a cashier. She said she used to visit the store a lot, and one day saw a hiring sign, which is how she ended up as an employee. 

A typical shift for Vasquez consists of helping customers find things, check out, and getting plants down from high shelves. Her favorite part of the job is all the families and dogs that come in; her  least favorite part of the job is cleaning the bathrooms. Because she has worked there for a while now, she said she’s earned certain perks, such as a flexible schedule and getting to take lunch breaks to go out with her friends. 

“Even though management at Merrifield is very considerate when it comes to the schedule, it can be really hard to manage my schoolwork. However, sometimes evening shifts can get quiet, so I get a chance to do my homework,” Vasquez said.

Colin Kavanaugh

Colin Kavanaugh ’21 works regularly at Sandy Spring Adventure Park, where he is a host at the park’s entrance. A typical shift for him ranges anywhere from six to eight hours, and during this time he helps check in guests and gets them ready to climb. While the job itself is satisfying, Kavanaugh’s favorite part is getting to climb for free whenever he can. A typical climb costs $61.22, so getting to climb for free is a great deal. 

On an average day, about 300 to 400 people visit the park, so a big part of Kavanaugh’s job is crowd control. While he loves his job, he said, “It can be very frustrating when big groups show up without a reservation, because it takes forever to get their waivers signed and gear on.” 

Having a job on top of being a full-time student can be challenging for Kavanaugh because he takes four AP classes and has a lot of homework. He manages the stress of having a job and being a student by trying to only work on weekends during the school year. In the summer, he picks up as many shifts as he can.

Dani Viso

St. John’s Dani Viso ’21 works regularly at the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum on the mall. When asked why she applied for the job, Dani said, “I’ve always been very interested in pursuing a STEM career. I thought that working at a Smithsonian museum would look great on future job applications. I also wanted to expose myself to different fields of science to gauge what I want to study in college.” 

An average shift consists of opening up her display, turning on a Smartboard, and giving presentations to people on different physics concepts. Viso’s favorite part of the job is the experience it has given her, and her least favorite part of the job is having to explain complex physics to kids. 

Finding ways to balance her schoolwork and job has been very hard for Viso, especially because when she’s at work she has to be fully invested and attentive to her job. “It has been very difficult at times to juggle school, work, and extracurriculars. I used to wait until Sunday to do my homework, but that’s when I work now. I’ve had to manage my time better over the weekend to get everything done. Other than that, I have to put time aside to rehearse for shows. It can be annoying, but the time put in beforehand can make my workday a lot more fun and manageable,” Viso said.

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