Working and the Student/Life Balance

Sophomores explain job application process and benefits of student employment


Natalie Fiorella, Reporter

Any number of students work part-time while going to high school. Others cannot imagine adding employment to their already busy schedules. Sophomores Brian Balquist and Riley England had unique experiences with that give others a look into the workplace. 

Balquist began working at the Overland Park Arboretum and Botanical Gardens last March as a sale attendant.

“I sell tickets, make and sell food, clean any indoor space, and I sometimes run the train garden.” Balquist said.

Balquist has enjoyed his experience working at the Arboretum. He likes the laid-back atmosphere and getting occasional free time to explore the grounds.

“It’s tons of fun during the summer, and in the winter I’m allowed to do homework when it gets slow,” Balquist said. “I wish I got to be outside more, which is why I’m changing positions to laborer’s assistant. It comes with a raise too which is super nice.”

The hiring process took around a month, starting with an online application and then getting a call for an interview about a month later. Knowing the park and current employees and having good recommendations were important.

“A lot of people apply to the Arboretum, but I got a recommendation from a family friend who works there as well. A lot of people working there were recommended by another employee,” said Balquist.

Sophomore Riley England worked a job at the Paciugo Gelato Caffe for two months this year but took a break because she wanted more time to focus on school.

There are two different types of jobs at Paciugo; making the gelato or serving it. Producers make the gelato and typically work the morning shift.

“The gelatio is what I was and what everyone who’s in school is,” England said. “It’s the people that scoop the gelato, make the coffee, and all the other drinks and such. They have the later shift, usually 4-9 but closing takes an hour and a half.”

Working all evening involved missing family time, time to relax and time for homework. The scheduling process was all done on an app called Homebase that helped employees achieve a balance.

“You could enter what days you want off and get your schedule through the app. It was really helpful.” England said.

Unlike retail jobs, Paciugo employees work at different locations. England shared how her schedule was all over the Kansas City area.

“There are three locations in the area – Oak Park Mall, Deer Creek, and Park Place,” England said.   “Two of these locations were pretty far away from me, and for the first month, I was scheduled only at the mall. It was hard because you don’t know how far of a commute you’re going to have to make every time.”

Another feature of the job that comes from working in different locations is dealing with the work pace, or popularity of each store.

“The Deer Creek store didn’t have many customers, while the mall was always packed, and the one in Park Place was in the middle.” England said.

Overall, England enjoyed her time at Paciugo and looked forward to going back to work there when her schedule settled down.

“My favorite part by far was just talking to the customers and getting to know them,” said England. “The regulars were so nice.”

Balquist and England both held jobs typical for teens. Both are good students. Maintaining a balance between holding a job and being a typical teenager created stress for some while others found it relaxing.