Part-time Work for Students During the Pandemic
Brooklyn Jones | Maui High School, Class of 2022
Wanted: part-time employees during a pandemic. Must be responsible, friendly and hard-working. No prior work experience is required. Please contact your local small business, organization or big-box store for more details.
Some teenagers started their first jobs ever during a pandemic while others adjusted to different working conditions. COVID pushed some students into positions out of necessity, an opportunity to explore future career paths or a way to save up for their future.
Since last summer, Tia Lewis, a senior at Seabury Hall High School, has been a scooper at P‘ia Gelato. In its quaint touristy atmosphere with small local shops and restaurants, P‘ia town was the optimal location for Tia when she applied for a job. Many of her classmates live in the area, so she could make money while being close to her friends. Along with scooping gelato and packing wholesale orders, Tia loves to meet “kind and generous” newcomers and hear their stories as she fixes them a cone, espresso or smoothie. Indeed, there can be a few high-maintenance customers. The enthusiastic and appreciative majority, however, helped Tia realize how fortunate she is to live on a beautiful island like Maui.
As graduation and college approaches, Tia will be ending her chapter at P‘ia Gelato. Still, she won’t forget the fantastic memories she’s made there or the best way to make a sundae.
Part-time jobs in food service can be tricky but learning to work with others, manage time and be patient is invaluable and can’t always be taught in schools. While working in food service is a more popular choice, others get a head start on their careers through their after-school jobs.
Altene Jacob Tumacder from Maui High School is one such student; with Ohanacare Maui, he’s learned all the above skills and more. A motivated worker, Altene received his CNA certification as part of his senior project then dove into the medical field as a nurse aide. His first job is challenging: he is routinely tasked with caring for patients in their homes, some of which have COVID. But the way he sees it, “there is never a time when I don’t find a silver lining.” One particularly proud moment on the job was when a patient looked up at him, smiled and said “I like you.” But to him, providing any amount of relief to vulnerable community members in a rather uncomfortable time makes the job altogether rewarding. “I continue to work because I have found passion in caring for people, especially the vulnerable,” Altene beams. “I can’t see myself doing anything else.”
Our local businesses and their employees have helped provide jobs and services throughout a raging pandemic. The adaptations businesses made to comply with sanitization, mandates and social distancing haven’t been easy. Still, everyone in the community is immensely grateful for their persistence and products.
Katelyn Gicale-Emden, a senior at Maui High School, has experience working before and during the pandemic. Before the quarantine hit, she worked at 5 Palms Restaurant as a food runner. During that time, restrictions on incoming tourist numbers halted the business’ primary income source and stopped work.
And when Katelyn returned to work after quarantine, she had to get used to the new policies. As a food runner, she would work in the kitchen and the back parts of the restaurant; getting used to wearing a mask coupled with intense south Kīhei heat, Katelyn would get headaches and even stand in the walk-in freezer to cool off. Using facial protection is almost automatic these days but like the rest of us, she hopes we won’t have to wear masks in the future. As a people person, Katelyn likes “being able to greet guests and see their facial expressions, see them talk and for me to really express myself to them.”
Katelyn now works at Spago Maui. With her cheerful yet professional demeanor, she enjoys coming across new people whenever she comes to work.
So many people come to the islands, which can be a blessing and a curse. Tourism season brings in businesses for local companies but high demands and a lack of employees can make it hard to stay above water.
Gabriella Jones is a freshman at Maui High School and started working when her dad’s health food store, Alive & Well, was short on workers. She quickly learned how to use the cash register, label products, verify product orders and do thorough sanitization. Gabriella grew up around Alive & Well. Her main jobs were cleaning the shelves and playing computer games as a kid but in the present, she is glad to finally be a part of the team.
Granted, there have been unpleasant instances like customers refusing to put on their masks but her shifts are altogether pleasant. Gabriella comments she learns something new every day. After months of work, she recalls when she was able to help a customer find the specific product they were looking for, describing the feeling as gratifying. Gabriella admits she doesn’t see herself in this line of work for her future career but appreciates the experience this ordeal has given her.
Likewise, I am a bit of an introvert but the encounters I’ve had with customers, employees and employers alike taught me a multitude of lessons, like the importance of being confident under pressure. As well, the interactions improved my conversation skills. After nearly a year of little to no conversations with people in real life, I welcomed the practice!
Google® Is Not Everything … is a monthly column authored by high school students. The title of the column emphasizes education is more than just googling a topic. Google® is a registered trademark. This month’s guest columnist is Brooklyn Jones, a Senior at Maui High School. She is an assistant editor in her school’s journalism program, Saber Scribes, and also a member of the Girls Can STEM Club. Brooklyn is in the ACOM Pathway at Maui High, specializing in graphic design. In her free time, she swims for Hawai‘i Swimming Club, bakes and likes to go to the beach. She is the daughter of Melissa Ligot Jones and Darren Jones.