Canton High School’s Student Workforce


High school students often have to juggle jobs and a full schoolwork load. Luis Villasmil/unsplash

KILEY HARRINGTON, staff writer

In a Buzzfeed post that highlights some of the opinions on Gen Z, one redditor asserts, “It seems like all they do is talk trash and make bogus claims — like stating they are the hardest working generation, despite employers saying otherwise.” Overall, Gen Z is met with the assumption of laziness, but is this really true?

There is evidence to support that the student workforce is declining. In 2020, about 17.6 % of teenagers between ages 16 and 19 were employed while enrolled at school in the United States. In 2000, 30% of students 16-19 were employed. Yet at Canton High School, it is difficult to find a student who doesn’t have a job. Some students even have two.

Colby Howe, a senior at Canton High School works between 30-40 hours a week. Colby works as a mechanic at Bremar Rental, a local rental business. He is responsible for making sure the machines that are being rented are maintained and working correctly.  Although Colby does not have time to participate in extracurriculars, working at Bremar gives Colby an opportunity to set up his future.

Emma McGunnigle -also a senior at Canton- is very busy. Emma works at Beyond the Bell; an after school child care program at Cherry Brook Primary School. Emma also babysits three days a week for a family in Simsbury. Similarly to Colby, Emma’s part time job provides her with experience in her anticipated future career; pediatric nursing. Emma feels the need to work because “Living is expensive,” and most of her paycheck goes towards filling up her gas tank and paying her car insurance. One thing that Emma does to keep up with her tireless work schedule is being productive in her study halls. Emma’s best advice for teenagers in search of work is to “Find a place to work that respects you – you are doing them a service.”

Shantae McDonald doesn’t just have a job; she owns a business. Shantae is just a junior at Canton High School and her business, Sweet Secret Collections,  has been in operation since quarantine. Shantae credits her mom for inspiring her business. Shante was bored during lockdown and her mom told her, “Just find something to do,” and supported Shante’s venture ever since. Shantae is very passionate about her business and estimates that she spends eight hours a week making lip gloss and packaging her products. Reportedly, nearly two thirds of Gen Z have or plan to develop their own business.

Some students however, prefer to stay focused on school. Matt Benedetti is one of them. Although Matt isn’t playing a fall sport, he does play basketball in the winter and lacrosse in the spring. Because he is so busy with sports, “I don’t want to work a job for three months,” said Matt.

Having a part time job can be beneficial in many ways from having a little more financial freedom to providing real world experience. Utilizing the extra time built into the school day to do school work can make the prospect of being a student in the workforce easier to manage, but for those who are heavily involved in sports and clubs it could potentially become a burden. But in the wise words of Shante McDonald, “If you feel like you can’t do it don’t give up – one day you’ll make it.”