should I quit my high school job?

A reader writes:

I’m 15, a girl, and work at one of Canada’s top grocery/retail employers.

Late August, I decided to get a part-time job because I felt like a lot of my classmates had one. I applied, got trained without an interview, and started shifts, which wasn’t a problem when I didn’t have school and other commitments to deal with.

My parents already pushed for me to work a max of 10 hours/week instead of the usual 15 hours, which they talked directly to my scheduling manager about. My manager was apparently reluctant and not happy, but she agreed in the end. My availability per week is limited to weekends and Monday and Tuesday evenings due to extracurriculars, so I’m basically working five-hour shifts on both weekend days every week unless my manager decides to give me a weekday evening shift.

I want this job for the basic reasons: university savings and financial independence (for entertainment, gifts, etc.). Also, it just seems like the next step in growing up; I feel like I‘m supposed to have a job by now.

I’m well into September now and some problems have been showing up:

1. I’m spending less time with my family. Both my parents were proud when I first got the job, but when they realized I would be sacrificing most of my weekends (which are usually reserved for family time) for work, they were unhappy. For example, today I had a shift until 9:30, which was when the rest of my family was at home making a cake for my grandpa’s birthday. I already felt bad about missing it, but it wasn’t totally preplanned and I didn’t think to ask for the weekend off beforehand.

2. I’m struggling to balance my studies with work. I‘m taking an exam in early December which requires a lot of rigorous practicing to prepare for. I’m also learning a new instrument for my school program, which again requires a lot of practicing. My after-school extracurriculars are starting up again. I‘m not struggling *too* much right now, but I feel like I will when mid-terms start, when club activities get settled, etc.

3. I feel like I’m ”wasting my youth.” Maybe this is influenced by my parents, but I’ve been cancelling plans with my friends and dismissing oppurtunities like learning a martial art, a language program, and volunteering at my local hospital because I doubt I’ll be able to schedule it in my life alongside work. I’m going to be in grade 11 next year, so now is like my last year of relative freedom not spent completley on shaping my future.

My parents both grew up not in the western world, so they’re not really well versed in the culture of having a part-time job as a teenager. I understand that they’re looking out for me, but I kind of feel like they’re treating it like an extracurricular rather than an actual paying job. Are there even places that hire where you can just work once a week? I don’t even know how to quit a job — is it acceptable to quit after working for less than a month?

In short: I want a job to make money for my future, my parents want me to quit because I’m dedicating less time to my family and friends and studies, and I don’t even know how/if it’s acceptable to quit after less than a month of working.

You’ve got to weigh the advantages of having the job (money, presumably) with its disadvantages (its demands on your time and the things you need to sacrifice to earn said money).

In some obvious ways you’re in a different situation than an adult who’s trying to decide if they want to keep a job, since you don’t need the money (whereas for independent adults, having some sort of income is usually necessary even if it keeps them from doing things they’d rather spend time on). But in other ways it’s not that different: In both situations, the fundamental question is whether the trade-offs of the job are worth it to you. Someone living independently would have to weigh those trade-offs differently than you do, but ultimately you both have to decide if what the job offers is valuable enough to justify the sacrifices you’re making to keep it.

I can’t answer that for you. Neither can your parents, for that matter! (They could order you to quit, but it sounds like they’re leaving it up to you, at least so far.) You’ve got to weigh the benefits and disadvantages yourself and decide where you fall.

That said, here are some things you could factor into your thinking.

* If you don’t need the money for your own expenses or to save for college, then having a job at 15 is really optional. Lots of people don’t work at 15, especially during the school year, and that’s okay.

* There is value in getting work experience in high school, but one option is to only work during the summer — when you’ll presumably have fewer demands on your time and more hours available for an employer. You’ll still end up needing to make trade-offs during the summer — you’ll still miss some fun things your friends are doing, and you might miss occasional family events too — but you probably won’t be stretched as thin.

* While there’s value in getting work experience in high school, there’s value in all kinds of other things too, including studying, learning an instrument, and spending time with your family. I do not agree that you’re wasting your youth by keeping this job (10 hours a week just isn’t that, unless you only have one very specific idea of what your youth should look like), but you get to decide that you value those other things more than you value work right now. Most people have a limited period of time in life where they can decide that, and it’s okay to take advantage of it.

As for whether you can quit after only a month of working: you can always quit any time you want. You should take commitments seriously when you make them (you shouldn’t accept a job planning to leave in a few weeks) but if you realize that the job isn’t what you thought it would be, or it conflicts with your life in ways you didn’t foresee, or it otherwise just isn’t working for you, you get to leave whenever you want. Leaving after only a month will most likely burn that bridge and you should be aware of that (it means that you probably won’t be able to get hired there in the future — although in this specific situation, you might be able to arrange to contact them in the summer when you have more availability). But really, high schoolers find themselves in this situation with some frequency, you’re unlikely to be the first high school student they’ve seen quit after a month for similar reasons, and while they might be annoyed it’s unlikely to be a huge thing.

In any case, my vote goes to the summer job plan, but my vote doesn’t count — this is about you sorting through what you want.

{ 281 comments… read them below }

  1. Office Sweater Lady*

    I would recommend the OP look into babysitting, dog sitting or other odd jobs for friends and neighbors as an alternative. I did this all through high school. The pay is good and you only work when you want.

    1. The Original K.*

      Yep, I was going to suggest that she look at jobs with a bit more flexibility. When I was in high school I would babysit during the school year and work formal W-2 paycheck jobs in the summer. The flexibility of babysitting for lots of families meant that I could turn down a gig if it interfered with school or family stuff.

      1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

        Same here! Formal jobs were summer only, babysitting during the school year.
        And if or similar apps had been a thing when I was that age, I ABSOLUTELY would have done a LOT of that! (I hated babysitting, but I loved the flexibility of it.)

        THAT SAID, summer-only jobs can be tough to come by if you’re in an area that isn’t considered a tourist spot. I learned that the hard way when I tried to stay in my college town one summer. My hometown is in a major tourist thoroughfare so May-August jobs were always plentiful.

        1. bookworm*

          A seasonal job for OP to consider that might require a little bit of pre-planning is lifeguarding. EVERYWHERE is desperate for lifeguards, to the point that communities closed pools and beaches this summer and were offering free training and other incentives to get enough staff.

          1. Lab Boss*

            I would go in a similar vein and say summer camp staff, which is facing similar shortages. OP, it’s a big commitment (you’re missing WEEKS of time with family and friends) but it’s also not the same as working in a store or restaurant- you’re getting a life experience many people never get to have, that’s often limited to people who are still in school, meeting friends you never would have met, and still making some money and learning how to be an employee.

            1. one L lana*

              Summer camp counselor is my favorite job I’ve ever had — well into my 20s, I was still taking vacation from my real job in the summer to work there for a week or two, and I’m heartbroken that I am now too old for it — but I don’t know if I’d recommend it to someone who just wanted work experience. The money is usually lousy (since you get room and board), and the environment is very different from a professional workplace environment — you’re there 24/7, and even professional summer camps have pretty high tolerance for staff shenanigans (as long as they’re not illegal and don’t endanger kids).

              It doesn’t really emphasize the basic skills that you’d have to use at a retail or grocery job (timeliness, taking direction from bosses, dealing with the public, doing tasks you don’t like because you’re getting paid).

              I loved it and I wouldn’t do anything differently. But I never felt like I had a “real job” before my first office job, unlike my friends who had bagged groceries or worked retail.

            2. Rain's Small Hands*

              As a Mom of a Summer Camp counselor (college aged, but Covid did put a crimp in it) – things to be aware – in the U.S. its one of those jobs that pays well below minimum wage – its usually a few hundred dollars a week. And its a brutal schedule. Mine was on for 22 hours a day, six days a week. Obviously some of those hours were spent sleeping – but since they shared a cabin with the kids, they were still on for bed wetting, bad dreams and homesickness – and anything else that kept you up at all hours.

              It doesn’t emphasize basic professional skills, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have responsibility – walking half a mile with an eight year old on your back because they sprained an ankle that might be broken is a lot of responsibility. And you are dealing with the public – parents. All the parents. And you do a lot of tasks you don’t like because you are getting paid (a pittance) including cleaning up 1am vomit.

            3. Jules the 3rd*

              I loved summer camp staff, but summer jobs were only for experience and spending money. My parents paid for all my undergrad tuition, fees, and books.

              I did summer camp staff when I was 15 / 16 / 17 (dishwasher and lifeguard), then lifeguarded for a pool when I was 18 and did internships the next two summers. I didn’t feel like I missed out on childhood; we had a lot of social time at camp.

              If you live near their major campuses and have interest, some big tech companies (Cisco, IBM for sure) have paid high school internships. In my county, the high schools have a ton of internship / job shadowing programs, many of which are paid and or lead to certifications.

        2. just passing through*

          I worked as a day camp counselor at my local YMCA–especially if OP likes working with kids and has/can get some babysitting experience, that (or similar summer programs) might be a route to pursue. There’s summer tutoring as well through various programs, if OP has a school subject they excel in that they could help younger kids with.

          1. Poster Child*

            Yes came here to suggest day camp counselor too! I did it for two summers, 6 hours a day for about 10 weeks. Evenings and weekends were still free to hang out with friends and relax. The kids were 7 & 8 years old, so old enough to do a lot of activities but young enough to still be cute. I think I learned some important skills like leading a team with authority – I’m a director now.

          2. Not Jane*

            Yes! I worked Y day camp as well, starting as a “Junior Counselor” at 13 all the way up to the summer after my freshman year of college. I loved it SO much! I’m a middle-aged lady now and I’m still friends with some of my fellow counselors.

      2. goddessoftransitory*

        That said, I think the LW needs to talk to her parents about how she can’t just drop gigs or keep dates open on an off-chance they want her to do something with the family.

        It’s one thing to say “keep grandpa’s birthday open,” another to go “but we were going to make his cake today! What do you mean you have to work?” Work, no matter what it is, is work, and you have to be available to do it. If the LW gets a rep for flakiness, she’s going to have a hard time putting together any money making activities.

    2. CheesePlease*

      I was a tutor in high school! It was twice a week for an hour after school. I didn’t get paid much but it was easy to schedule and I liked doing it. Just another easy-entry flexible option. Some parents just need someone to help their middle schooler with more complicated homework or help them study efficiently.

      1. UKgreen*

        Yep! Tutoring! OP sounds mature, articulate and sensible and I’m sure would find tutoring or babysitting work easily.

      2. bookworm*

        Also, the OP says they’re learning a *new* instrument, which implies they already know at least one other instrument. Depending on the instrument and their skill level they might be able to pick up some private lessons for younger kids. I did that when I was in high school.

      3. Business Narwhal*

        Ya tutoring is a good one. I’m op’s age and also in Canada and did some French tutoring for 10$ an hour once a week, but you could have multiple jobs going at once.

    3. VI Guy*

      I walked a neighbor’s dog every day for years. It wasn’t very much time overall, about an hour a day for six days a week, yet it helped with my spending money and independence. I would go on my way home from school. I also babysat and agree that the flexible scheduling is a big advantage.

    4. nerak*

      Yes, I was only allowed to babysit/petsit during the school year when I was a teenager, but essentially worked full-time in the summer starting at age 14 (which was way too young, but I really wanted to make money and not rely on my parents for the types of clothing, shoes, and other things I liked).

      I think it’s really important to just be able to focus on school, extracurriculars, and family/friends at this age. OP has their whole adult life to deal with the work/life balance, they should just be concerned with school/life balance for now.

    5. Beth*

      Babysitting was also my go-to through high school. It did mean giving up some Friday and Saturday evenings (that’s when adults with 9-5 jobs like to go out, too!), but it wasn’t every weekend by any means. My income wasn’t as stable as friends who worked more traditional part-time jobs, but my pay was higher/hour, so it generally balanced out. While it wasn’t completely flexible (if I declined jobs too often, that family would likely stop calling me as their default sitter), it did give me some freedom to balance work with my friends and family. And once I got to know a family’s kids, it was usually pretty easy work. It was a great school-year ob for a responsible teenager.

    6. glt on wry*

      I’m going to dissent here. I had a very busy babysitting schedule when I was in high school, and in later years came to conclude that I “babysat high school away.” I think I would have made more money in less time if I’d had a “real” part-time job, which I eventually got in grade 13 (Ontario resident here). Granted, at the time, babysitting wasn’t as valued as it is today, and I was making, like, $2 or less an hour compared to the grand $4 that I got at my first min-wage after-school job. The hours were long and, though I was able to do homework once the kids were in bed, I feel I missed out on some socializing experience that I would have got if I’d been a grill cook or worked in a clothing store with other high schoolers.

      1. Felis alwayshungryis*

        There is that. I guess it depends on the babysitting schedule – I had a regular after-school gig for one lovely 10-year-old for a couple of hours three days a week while the mum went to the gym (dad was usually away for work). Then I got the occasional evening job, plus referrals. That worked great for me.

        Obviously jobs like that end when the kids age out of it but they’re a good wicket for a highschooler if you can work it round other activities.

    7. e271828*

      This! Babysitting is something OP can schedule at their convenience and it’s not going to knock a hole in every weekend.

      OP, you are at an age where learning IS your primary job! You don’t need to be on someone’s payroll to be a worthy human being.

    8. goddessoftransitory*

      Agreed. This is why it’s so hard to find “regular” work as a teen–your actual life is simply going to clash too much with the needs of your workplace, to the point that neither the employee or the company is going to get enough out of the situation to make it worth it.

      I train where I work, and it’s, practically speaking, impossible to do with someone who can only come in once or twice a week–they simply aren’t going to remember all the things they have to do as part of the routine of the job. There’s too many little bibs and bobs that only constant repetition makes doable. And I think that goes for most jobs, really. People think that food service or cashiering or whatever is “simple,” but there’s tons of routines and steps you have to be familiar with to make a shift worth it.

  2. C in the Hood*

    You might want to ask your friends with jobs what they do to balance everything, if that might help.

  3. Chrys*

    I’m 38. I worked straight through from 15 until 37, when I got fired from a job that burned me to a crisp. I took a few months off between jobs. I was fortunately in a financial position that it wasn’t a huge strain, and combined with getting COBRA covered thanks to COVID pandemic protections it was even cheaper.

    It was GLORIOUS. That’s the first time I had ever had a chance to just enjoy myself as an adult. I’d wasted my entire youth working and that was the first actual break I got.

    Looking back, I was stuck working from that age because I didn’t have a choice. I wouldn’t have been able to afford college, I wouldn’t have been able to survive. If I did have the choice, I absolutely would have enjoyed more of my time growing up.

    My advice? Quit. Enjoy working on yourself for a while before you *have* to work.

    1. Orora*

      I’m with Chrys on this. The extra money is really nice, but this is a time of life to explore — to learn that instrument or martial art. Those activities can also help you discover a passion that might be something you want to be employed in later. Or not. But the idea is that you use this time to try new activities and explore who you are. I only worked summers through much of high school. I got some extra money and experience, but also got to do all my extracurricular stuff (band, choir, school plays) and just enjoy being a teenager.

      It gets harder to explore multiple interests when you have to work full-time to pay the rent, etc. Enjoy having the safety net of mom & dad.

      1. The Brown-Bound Express*

        No future quality employer is going to care one twit whether you worked retail at a grocery store for 10 hours a week in high school.

        You will enhance your future earning power exponentially by taking this time to master a language, and perhaps even by learning martial arts or musical instruments. (Some business academics have observed that many CEOs have a background in music.) These will also look much better on college applications.

        1. Mid*

          Ehh…I’ll disagree slightly here. I worked food/retail during high school, but that showed my college employers that I knew how to show up when scheduled and had a sense of working norms, which allowed me to do slightly “higher level” work and was trusted more. Those college jobs allowed me to end up in a position that was slightly above entry level right out of the gate, because I held a role during college that was usually reserved for graduate students. It also meant that despite not being in a super high-demand field, I was able to get multiple job offers and be picky about my options, while a lot of people in my degree didn’t have that luxury. I didn’t have the highest grades or coolest extracurricular activities, but I did have a history of showing up and doing my job well.

          This isn’t a guarantee, of course, but working during high school *did* impact my employment in the future. It wasn’t a direct “Oh, you worked for Aldi, clearly you should be a senior engineer right away,” but more of a snowball effect that gave me a leg up at each step of my career so far.

          We get pretty regular letters about people who are hesitant to hire young people with literally zero work experience, because it can be very time consuming to make sure someone learns not just how to do the work, but how to act in a workplace. And from people who have never worked before and don’t know that their behavior is inappropriate in a workplace. (Obviously, there’s a selection bias since people who aren’t having issues adjusting to the workplace probably aren’t writing in here, but still.)

          1. Mockingjay*

            Keep in mind students in rural areas or without transportation may not be able to work, even if they want to. I was one of them; I didn’t work until college. My parents were of modest means and couldn’t afford an extra car, and there were very few jobs outside seasonal farming. While it would have been helpful for me and my siblings to earn money, my parents tried to make the best of things and decided our high school years were best spent learning and doing (free or inexpensive) student activities.

            (My first car: a beater that my dad bought for $200. We rebuilt the engine and my sister and I shared that car for 3 years while we attended local colleges and worked.)

            1. Mid*

              I grew up in a semi-rural area, and biked to my job until I saved up money to buy a car for myself (which I was fortunate enough to be able to purchase from a relative for less than market value.) I’m aware that different areas have different opportunities, but in my experience, most (if not all) of the rural kids I grew up with all worked as soon as it was legal, full-time in the summers and often part-time year round. More than a few had farm-permits, so they could drive at 14. I spent many summers picking and shucking corn. In my area, it was the “city kids” who rarely worked while in school. There are also kids who can’t have jobs because they are needed to provide child care for their families, or have other family obligations, or religious restrictions, or numerous other things. And there are also plenty of kids who have to work to help make ends meet for their families.

              But, I’m aware that there are regional and country differences, and that’s why I never suggested that not-working in high school should be held against someone, just pointed out that it can actually impact your career, even if the job itself is very part-time and irrelevant to your career aspirations. Do my current employers care where I worked over a decade ago? No. Are my high school jobs on my resume? Also no. But have they helped me over the years? Absolutely yes.

          2. Snow Globe*

            My son did not work in high school, then had some difficulty finding a job while in college since he had no work experience. YMMV

            1. Jay*

              My daughter worked very part-time as a lifeguard starting at age 17 – one summer as a camp swim instructor and other than that about ten hours a week, tops, on and off until age 20. She also went to camp fairs for her summer camp her first year in college. That was it for paid work experience before she started applying for career-focused internships in college. She got two excellent internships and is now employed after graduation at the second company she interned with.

              We were lucky enough to be able tell her she didn’t have to work during college. I’m sure she would have liked to have more money than we gave her for allowance but it wasn’t worth the tradeoffs for her. She intended to work the summer after her sophomore year but that was 2020….

              tl;dr: if you read AAM and use her tips for resumes and cover letters, you can get great internships and jobs even without real previous work experience!

          3. Loblaws or die*

            Right. But high school students can also work summers. It’s not necessary to work during the school year for work experience.

            1. Mid*

              Never said it was, just that employers do indeed care about those 10-hour a week jobs in high school when you’re starting out.

          4. Lenora Rose*

            But even most kids who start working in high school don’t start working at 15; 16 and 17 are much more common, and the summer before college (when 90% of students are 18) even more common still. And if she does a couple of extended summer jobs after it, or decides in grade 12 that she can indeed handle some hours during school in a way she couldn’t at 15, absolutely nobody will care what she did or didn’t do at 15.

            1. Mid*

              That’s very region dependent. Everyone I grew up with started working by 14. And being able to say I was re-hired for 4 consecutive years at a seasonal job was helpful for my resume. And again, this isn’t saying that anyone should or shouldn’t work during high school, just that it can be beneficial, and it’s not pointless or meaningless to have a job while in high school.

          5. one L lana*

            The first real job I ever had was the first paid internship I have in my field of study. I’d done project-type odd jobs in high school (babysitting, dog walking, helping with various small business tasks for friends of the family) and was a babysitter during the school year and a camp counselor during the summer in college.

            Honestly, I wish I’d had some experience working retail or whatnot. There are some really basic office things that it’s better to have some experience with before it feels like your entire career is depending on it.

            1. one L lana*

              To be clear, that’s not a reason for OP to work. It sounds like she’s giving up things that she wants to do in order to work a job that she doesn’t need. But I do think there’s value in working beyond what it shows to future employers (because none of mine cared at all what I did in high school, either) and it can be smart and valid to want that.

          6. Smithy*

            The definition of “need to work” is always going to be such a flux point for every individual. Someone who doesn’t have the need in high school, might have a much stronger need in undergrad. And someone who hasn’t needed to work during undergrad might have a very short grace period before needing a job after graduation.

            While I think having that work history before college can be helpful – I don’t think that the level of working ten hours a week at a grocery store is required. Because for those kids who do start undergrad with either a need or desire for employment – there are lots of jobs available with lots of levels of generosity around past work experience. And lots of college jobs can include a lot of office work that is really translatable to entry level work.

            My first college job was in the library, so shelving books moved to processing interlibrary loans. Eventually I got another college job doing data entry for the nursing school. And the first “shelving books” job I got as part of my work study, and was essentially assigned to me without requiring any resume. I later had to learn how to put all of that into a resume….but there really is just so much time to get those early feet in the door.

          7. The Brown-Bound Express*

            “It wasn’t a direct “Oh, you worked for Aldi, clearly you should be a senior engineer right away,” but more of a snowball effect that gave me a leg up at each step of my career so far.”

            …which is tantamount to saying there was no causal relationship at all, and any engineering firm worth its salt is going to be a lot more interested in the technical courses you took, the programming languages you know, and so on.

            Again, there’s real academic research showing that a background in music is correlated with business success. I’m not aware of any that says the same of low-end retail jobs.

            Finally, grocery store work doesn’t impress college admissions officers. Music and other extracurricular leadership does. The quality of undergraduate institution and the employers that recruit there will make the impact of a weekend job at Tim Horton’s microscopic. And volunteering in a substantive capacity at, say, a local nonprofit will also carry much higher resume value than Tim Horton’s.

            1. plynn*

              Grocery store work *should* impress college admissions officers. An application packed with all the right extracurriculars and expensive lessons just shows a student who had a well-off family that could afford all that. And most likely parents that pushed the kid into it…in order to impress college admissions officers.

              But the LW also says she’s in Canada where private colleges and the absurd admissions race is not really a thing.

            2. Mid*

              “A background in music is correlated with business success.” Hmmm…could that be because music lessons are a luxury and being wealthier correlates with business success?

              And no, it’s not tantamount to saying there was no causal relationship at all. I showed that I could work, and perform well, which allowed me to take higher level roles sooner in my career compared to my peers with zero work experience. It was a direct cause. It’s not where I worked, it was that I had shown that I could be trusted to do work without handholding and lots of supervision.

              When I started college, I had 6 years of work experience, and had worked full time during summers for most of those years. (I also had a fun childhood, for the record, and managed to participate in extracurricular activities too. But we also needed the money in my family.) I held a role managing people during my recurring summer job. I had a resume that showed I was trustworthy and dependable, and that allowed me to get the college job that was usually for graduate students, and that allowed me to get my post-college job. Could I have taken a similar path without that work experience? Maybe. But I moved away from my family for college, I didn’t know how to network or speak business language, I didn’t have those advantages. Having a strong work history helped me get where I am today.

        2. Spero*

          I disagree. Up to my first in my profession job after college, I received comments about my early high school work history (started working full time in summers at 14 and part time year round at 16). I often had employers comment that they expected someone older from the work history and that was why they gave me a call back, or that to work so consistently I must be very responsible so they would give me a shot even though they didn’t usually hire college students. My jobs from 16-21 were office and admin type jobs rather than service industry, so that may be part of it.
          In the eleven years since I’ve been working in my profession, it’s rarely come up until further in the job. I keep a few of the multi year jobs in an ‘additional experience’ list section on the back page of the resume and I’ll occasionally get a one off ‘how was this’ type question in interviews. However I’ve often had some comments that ‘oh you handled that (weird scenario) well but I’m not surprised given the (insert experience) you had before you got into this field.’

      2. No Longer Looking*

        I also agree with Chrys and Orora that if the job is causing you stress at this time in your life, it isn’t worth holding on to, though I certainly understand wanting the spending money. If you agree, I recommend a few additional things.

        One, explain to your parents why you have decided to quit *before* you tell your boss, so it doesn’t come as a fickle surprise to them, and so they can make known any strong feelings they would hit you with before it is written in stone. Also, expect to work out the remainder of whatever week(s) have already been scheduled and posted. If you can, offer to work one written schedule past whatever is currently posted to give them time to work around the hole. It’s not necessary esp for a part timer, but the offer is usually appreciated.

        Two, don’t bother listing this position on your applications/resume/CV in the future. I know the store apps all say to list all the jobs you’ve ever had – just don’t do it though, they can’t check and listing a short stint won’t be helpful to you.

        Three, while it doesn’t provide the spending money, the volunteer work you mentioned missing out on sometimes looks BETTER on both resume/CVs and college applications than paying work does, assuming it’s more than just one day here and there.

    2. Bookartist*

      I started working at the age of 13 and completely cosign the above. Yes it was nice to have money that I earned and no one had any calls on, but you have a whole life to work and only one set of teenage years.

    3. Collarbone High*

      I’m 48 and in the same situation – working nonstop since I was 15. I realized recently that I’ve been working full-time for over a decade longer than peers who didn’t start until after college, and honestly I’m burned out and wish I could retire. If I had a time machine, I wouldn’t have started working so early.

      LW, I’m also sympathetic to the problem of your desired hours not lining up with what management wants. All of my high school jobs started with a promise that of course my schedule would be part-time, time off requests would be honored, etc. But over time, that would start slipping to nearly full time, and I missed a lot of milestone events because too many people had already asked for prom night off. It’s a bigger problem if a lot of your co-workers are also students.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        My husband has been working since he was 15 years old, and he is so burned out. We’re really not in the situation for early retirement, but he is so tempted. His plant where he worked 25 years closed a couple years ago, and after a year of severance, he has been home without pay for about a year. He has a few years before he can draw his retirement, but we’re figuring out living on just my salary so he can just coast through a handful more years to the end.

    4. Generic Name*

      I agree. My husband was working jobs when he was your age because he was basically the primary breadwinner for his family (mom and brother and sister) and they couldn’t afford food/rent if he didn’t work (his mom had some serious issues). You are not in that position, so unless you are getting enjoyment/value from the work, I think it makes sense to focus on school during the school year and have a job during summer.

    5. alienor*

      Completely agree. You’ll be working for 40+ years; there’s no need to do it now if you don’t need the money, at least not during the school year. I wouldn’t have had a job during university either if I hadn’t had to–parties and fun aside, I always felt like I wasn’t getting full value out of the education I was working to pay for because I didn’t have time for the “extras” like study groups and discussion sessions. (Not to mention having to squeeze all my reading and homework into the one day a week I had off. That sucked.)

      1. High Score!*

        Or even during the summers. Now that I’m older I realize that I had so few summers. Why did I waste them working? Enjoy your family. Grandpa won’t be around forever and neither will your parents. It’s easier to enjoy things when you are young and healthy. Work no more then you absolutely must. Enjoy your life.
        Yes, you will have to apply for a few more jobs starting with no experience but you’ll find something. And if you’re going to college there will be internships and other opportunities.

    6. Yoyoyo*

      YES. I took my first ever two week vacation at the age of 30 and it occurred to me that it was the most time I had ever had off since the age of 15. My high school job was great in many ways, but I’m not sure I would have started working quite so young if I could have a redo.

      1. Radski*

        This was me this year – I took 2 full weeks off this past January for the first time EVER since I was 16 working at Dairy Queen. I’m 34.

    7. Reluctant Mezzo*

      Been there, done that, I picked strawberries in the summer before I was 16 and could get a real job (Oregon has some pretty strenuous regulations, at least they used to). Then I worked for three weeks of 12 hour days on the cherry line (picking out bugs and Bad Cherries), and made more that way than a whole season of strawberry picking. I didn’t work during school itself–I was too busy grinding extracurricular activities to get scholarships which would be worth more. The next summer after high school graduation and before college, I worked as a nurse’s aide. Fortunately, college equipped me for jobs that had actual benefits and so on.

  4. DD*

    Unfortunately your 10 hours a week hit on your two days off from school. Could you ask to only be scheduled for one of the weekend days and either Monday or Tuesday?

    1. Keeley Jones, The Independent Woman*

      My son is 16 and also works at a grocery store and he had the same schedule, he was on every weekend. Which I get it, part of learning to be an adult, especially just starting out, is learning that there are just things you’re going to miss out on sometimes. But his schedule also impacted his dad and mine. We couldn’t go away for the weekend or really have plans outside of our immediate area when he had to work and didn’t have his license yet.

      So he did what you suggested, updated his availability to T/Thr and Sunday. Now that school has started he just works Sunday mornings. Gives him a bit of spending money but he doesn’t miss out too much. We’d be ok with him quitting during the school year too, but he likes having his own money so this was a good solution.

      1. Meep*

        I worked at a grocery store from 16-17 for a year and a half for 16 hours. I was a morning person so I asked to be scheduled for the 6 AM-2PM shift Saturdays and Sundays. None of my friends or family are morning people and think 10 AM is “early” so it worked.

    2. whistle*

      This is what I came suggest. It’s what I did in HS and college. I worked throughout, but no matter how many hours I worked, I only worked one weekend day. You get Saturday or Sunday, not both.

    3. Moonlight*

      Part of the problem is that based on my experience with retail, they have really rigid scheduling set ups. I had a really tough time with my 3:30 to 8:30 pm shifts at a large retailer in high school because it gave me 20 minutes to end class and sprint over to the store. Lots of them will have a 2-8 pm, 5-9 pm etc. and can’t flex those at all (eg if she can work 4-8, but not 5-9 because of timing, that might be unworkable).

      It may be possible, but she’d need to find out what the shifts are.

  5. L-squared*

    I remember one thing my mom told me, and it rang so true.

    I wanted to get a job when I turned 15, and she said it was up to me. But one thing she said is “once you have a job and have your own money, it really won’t stop, and you’ll want to keep doing it” and she was right.

    My mom wasn’t like someone who refused to give me spending money, but we weren’t exactly rich either.. But it was nicer (and more plentiful) when it was my own money. So when I stopped working for a time in high school, and HAD to ask her, and had to make due with what she could, it sucked. I was at her mercy again. So the second my extracurriculars let up, I got a new job.

    You have to make the best decision for you, but this is just to say, when you quit, you may miss the money you are having now.

    1. Warrior Princess Xena*

      This is very true. Did I always enjoy working? No, given the option I would either not work at all or work very part time on something I enjoy. Do I enjoy financial independence? Yes, yes I did. The first time a paycheck I received had a 4-digit number on it I had to sit down for a while though!

    2. middle name Danger*

      Came here to say basically this. Once you truly enter the workforce it’s hard to step back. I vote summer job, too.

    3. Lab Boss*

      My parents gave me similar advice when I was being pushed to work instead of attend a good friend’s graduation party: “You’ll have the rest of your life to work, and for most of it you won’t have a choice. Think really carefully before you sacrifice things that only come around when you’re young.”

      OP, the part of your letter that struck me hardest was the sense that you’re wasting your youth. From your letter I’m making a few assumptions (and forgive me if they’re wrong): You don’t NEED the money from this job, and you’re a high achiever with a strong sense of duty to do “the things you should do.” That’s a great attitude to have, but it can also lead you to overschedule and overextend yourself. Right now you have a lot of freedom and a lot of things happening that you won’t ever get to do again. Don’t get so wrapped up in checking boxes that you find yourself looking back and wishing you’d done the teenager stuff that is permanently behind you.

    4. allathian*

      Oh yes. Granted, I didn’t start working until I was 17, and I never had a regular allowance, although I got my first bank account when I was 6, and my godparents who lived an 8-hour drive away always sent me money rather than things for Christmas and my birthday. I got my first ATM card when I was 15, and applied for a debit card as soon as I became eligible for one, at 18. (Now there are no ATM cards, and kids can get a debit card at 12).

      I’m in an area where your place in college is determined by academic achievement, largely demonstrated by your grades in the matriculation exam, and with few exceptions, your extracurriculars are completely irrelevant. If you want to study music, having had music as a serious extracurricular is necessary, because that’s the only way to acquire the necessary skills to get into the program. But the arts are an exception.

      Anyway, in high school I always said that working was my extracurricular. My other hobbies were reading, my penpals, knitting and crocheting, and watching TV, that is nothing that would take me out of the house regularly, and nothing supervised by an adult who wasn’t either one of my parents or
      my grandma.

      1. londonedit*

        Yeah, my place at university was probably 90% determined by my A level results. The university told me I needed at least ABB with the A in English, so that’s what I had to get. As part of your uni application you had to write a personal statement where you were meant to show that you were a reasonably well-rounded sort of person, but unless you wanted to, say, study music or sports science or something else where it would have an impact on your ability to succeed at degree level, universities weren’t hugely bothered by what you were doing outside of school. There was certainly no *requirement* to do any extra activities in order to get into uni.

  6. TeaFiend*

    I got my first job at 14 and was working after-school shifts (2 hours) and weekend shifts (4-5 hours per day). My parents let me keep the job but said they didn’t want me working both days of a weekend and I couldn’t work every weekend in a month. My boss hated it and was nasty about it but tbh, I’m glad that’s how it happened. I’m glad I worked and I wish I’d saved and invested the money, but reflecting on my time in high school, it was far more valuable to me to have time with my friends and family. The work experience didn’t really give me much of an edge, and the money was nice but not necessary.
    I guess everything in moderation eh?

  7. LawBee*

    I love this thoughtful answer. My initial response was “you’re 15, quit and enjoy being a teenager”. But this is a much better answer!

    Another vote for the summer job. Iirc, summer freedom got very boring very quickly, so why not make some money then.

    1. OrigCassandra*

      Yes, this was such a wise, kind, compassionate answer. I wish this blog had existed when I was 15.

    2. Sloanicota*

      +1 I feel like OP tried something this year but it wasn’t necessarily the most thought out. You started in August, which at least here in the US is the cusp of back-to-school time. Now your priority should rightfully be on school leaving you little opportunity to pick up shifts, and you need to spend your weekends recharging so you can do your best in classes. Next year, look for a job in May so you can work 15 or 20 hours a week through the summer. Try a different sector if you can, just to build experience. Even better, find something you want to do (I was a lifeguard and camp counselor, which was perfect as that was exactly how I wanted to spend my summer anyway). And leave yourself some time for vacation :D You have the rest of your life to work, so if you don’t *have* to yet, don’t prioritize it.

      1. Smithy*

        I want to cosign all of this. And if anything – the OP having this experience at 15 is actually really good under the heading of “fail fast”. The OP still has time left before college applications and/or graduation to consider how to approach this.

        One thing that completely quitting now can give the OP time to do (vs trying to reduce their hours), is search next summer options. What does the summer season look like? When do you need to apply? Is there certification you need to get in advance? How do you get that/how much does it cost? Also – do you prefer the idea of working earlier in the day vs later at night? You’ve got time and a lot of this information can be found online.

        One last thing that I’ll add – OP, if you where you live and your access to transportation make there very few other job options, I have one more recommendation. Do your very best to do this job through this semester. Then give your two weeks notice before your exams with the reason that you need to leave the job to properly study for your exams and you are concerned that your spring semester won’t allow you the time to commit to the job. That’ll basically show you working the entire fall semester, which for high school/college students isn’t uncommon and you won’t be quitting immediately before Christmas. The grocery store may still not love it, but you’d likely leave in a different place than quitting now.

    3. fhqwhgads*

      It made me realize I’m less compassionate than I thought, as my initial reaction was “if you feel like you won’t have enough time to study for exams and do your extracurriculars due to a 10hr/week job, you don’t have the bandwidth for a job anyway.”

  8. Melanie Cavill*

    LW, I had a friend in high school who didn’t work through-out the year because they were focused on schoolwork and graduating. During the summer, they worked 40 hours a week at a recycling centre; not doing hard labour, either, although they were outside most of the day. They made enough to pay their entire university tuition for the upcoming year.

    (To be clear, I’m referring to Canadian tuition, which is comparatively reasonable for a domestic student. My overall tuition for four years, after bursaries, was 27k.)

    If you want to save money for your future, maybe look into something like that? A sprint, rather than a marathon.

    1. PsychNurse*

      Yes, I also vote for summer work! In my town, lifeguarding is popular among the teenagers. It pays well and is seasonal.

  9. mkl*

    I concur with the summer job plan. The only warning I would put out is that you need to be careful to not allow your family to persuade you to not work summers at all. Some families focus on school and extra-cirriculars TOO much. They’re kids approach senior year of college with outstanding grades and zero job experience and unless they’re headed for graduate school, it becomes a real handicap when they go to look for full time work.

    1. The Brown-Bound Express*

      This is what summer internships are for during university.

      No quality employer is going to care that a high school sophomore worked retail for 10 hours a week at a grocery store.

      1. Mid*

        Sure, but those summer internships during college will likely care. If you have two candidates that are equally qualified for an internship, but one has literally any work history and the other doesn’t, you’re probably going to hire the one with 10 hours a week of retail experience.

        And then the “quality employer” will care about what internships you did. It’s a snowball. It’s not the be-all, end-all to work during high school, but it can be very beneficial to young people to do a few years of very part time work before trying to get internships and “real” jobs.

      2. louvella*

        When I was hiring for a fairly entry-level marketing position I prioritized people with customer service experience, because they understood more about what our frontline employees were dealing with, because managing social media involves customer service, and because I just enjoyed working with them more.

      3. Bethany*

        We (not US) hire interns who are still at uni, and I always prefer to hire an intern who has paid work experience under their belt. They’re used to showing up on time, having someone to report to, managing multiple demands, and generally understanding that this is a work environment and not a uni class.

        That may be different in the US where I understand it’s more of a learning opportunity, but we pay our undergrad interns essentially the same as our grads. The whole point of the program is to try out potentially good workers before they graduate.

    2. just another queer reader*

      Since the letter writer is just 15, I’m not too worried about this – they’ve still got lots of high school and college summers left for working.

      (If they were 21 and writing this letter, I’d agree with you!)

      1. Irish Teacher*

        That was my thought too. I definitely think it’s good to get some work experience before you finish college and start looking for a “career job,” but…I don’t think it’s necessary to get that experience at 15.

    3. Hlao-roo*

      I mostly worked summer jobs in high school (plus some ad hoc pet sitting and other flexible odd jobs throughout the year) and one other heads-up for the OP is that you may miss some summer family vacations.

      My summer high school job was at a day camp, and I could request a week off when they were doing their scheduling in May but I could not request a week off after the camp started. I remember being frustrated with my parents because they didn’t book our family vacation soon enough for me to know which week to request off from work, so I didn’t go on vacation that summer (my older sibling didn’t either for the same reason and the two of us ended up having a pretty good week home alone). I was disappointed to miss the vacation at the time, but looking back it was a good experience: I learned about balancing work schedules and family schedules, and because I worked during the summer I could spend plenty of time with my family during the school year.

      I’m sharing my experience so you’ll be aware that even with the summer job route, there may be some times when you/your family will be disappointed that you’ll need to commit to work.

      1. Lab Boss*

        That was probably a tough but important lesson for your parents too- at some point parents have to learn that their children are growing up and they can’t just unilaterally decide on their schedules (which is fine for small kids when the parents DO have total control!)

    4. Generic Name*

      Sure, senior year of COLLEGE, which is what, 6 years from now? OP has plenty of time to get job experience between now and then. I sometimes review resumes at my job, and not once have I seen a candidate who listed anything from high school. Yes, I have seen part-time jobs from college listed, which is fine to have on a resume for an entry level job post college. But it is never the single deciding factor between candidate A and B.

  10. The Person from the Resume*

    If this is the main reason you got a job: because I felt like a lot of my classmates had one – ie basically everyone else is doing it, feel free to quit.

    Alison is right it’s about tradeoffs, but it doesn’t sound like you need the money now or for future needs. Depending on your classmates, it’s possible they need their jobs in order to contribute to their family finances now or to pay for college later and so they are willing to put that need ahead of a lot of extracurriculars. It sounds like you value a variety of extracurriculars and family time more than the money.

  11. glitter writer*

    I did have a high school retail job, in addition to an under-the-table 12 hours / week babysitting job — but where I grew up, working before 16 isn’t legal unless you had a special permit, and I think not working the retail job until I was 17 made a big difference and helped a lot. Work experience is valuable but even when you are a fully independent adult it should ideally be part of your life, not encroaching too badly on the rest of your life, and I think at 15 the rest of your life is probably still more important. Summer jobs seem like the way to go.

  12. Dawn*

    Were I you, I’d also consider prioritizing one or two “extra-curriculars” (a phrase that still instills dread in me 20 years past high-school.) While I’m sure that you’ve got more energy than I do, you sound like you’re drastically overcommitted! A lot of that stuff really isn’t going to matter very much at all when you get out into the world – not that language and instrument studies are bad, far from it!

    But the way you’re describing it sounds like you’ve constantly got something going on, and as you get older, and school gets harder, you’re going to increasingly find that there’s value in just relaxing and not burning yourself out, too, and that there may be very little actual added value from, say, being on the prom committee or the spirit squad.

    Honestly, I might even be inclined to prioritize the job over those, just because it’s consistently-scheduled, fairly regimented time that you’re getting compensated for and when you’re in high school that can be a relief in and of itself.

    You have to do what’s best for you, of course! But from where I’m sitting it sounds like you might just be overcommitted. You’ve got maybe three years of high school left and it’s absolutely worth taking time just to exist as a teenager in the world.

    1. Dawn*

      Also as a side note, Canada’s major grocery retailers are really not looking very good right now and you might find yourself better served by a different employer, although obviously at 15 your options are limited. But it’s worth looking at what’s out there; the Government of Canada job bank is a fantastic resource and you can sort specifically for student jobs in their advanced search options.

    2. Anonym*

      This struck me as well. It’s extraordinarily unlikely that most of those extracurriculars will contribute to your future the way a job will. I’m with Dawn – if you’re doing them to improve your future, select just a few. Of course, if you love all of them and find them rewarding, go right on as you are! But no post-collegiate employer is going to care about them. Ever.

      Take Alison’s advice, consider what works well for you right now. You’re fortunate to have options, and if you choose to leave this job, you can do it reasonably and gracefully. But don’t place a long list of extracurriculars above it if the only goal is building your future.

      1. Zap R.*

        If OP’s interested in pursuing the arts at a Canadian university, those extracurriculars could be very important. We don’t have SATs up here so things like portfolios, CVs, etc… carry a fair amount of weight during the application process.

        1. len*

          Except that Canadian university admissions are not particularly competitive. IMO this is a misplaced narrative imported from US culture that doesn’t really apply.

          1. Zap R.*

            My program was pretty competitive and the admissions process was a lot of work but I understand that not everyone has the same experience.

        2. Princess Clutter*

          Most universities only really count grades in Canada, unless you are going into a specific program. And even then, it’s not common to see extra-curricular activities as a factor.

      2. The Brown-Bound Express*

        “It’s extraordinarily unlikely that most of those extracurriculars will contribute to your future the way a job will.”

        This is precisely the opposite of the advice OP should be taking if she’s looking for admission to a competitive university.

        1. Bluenoser*

          Undergraduate admissions really aren’t as competitive in Canada (with some program specific exceptions). Additionally, there isn’t nearly as much of a hierarchy about different schools. Acceptance rates at the most famous (like U of Toronto or McGill) are about 45%, while good schools (like St Francis Xavier and Dalhousie) are 60-70%. Basically, if you aren’t trying to get into a fine arts program that requires a portfolio or an audition, maintaining good grades through grade 11 is usually sufficient for most places. Admission to professional programs and grad school is highly competitive, though, and does often require extensive extra curriculars.

    3. Tau*

      On the flip side, it can be much harder to pick up some of these extracurriculars as an adult. There are resources available to kids and teenagers that just aren’t there later, the logistics can be much easier if you’re living at home with supportive parents, and being young and used to studying can be a benefit. I got into language learning in my mid-thirties and am really regretting not managing to do that earlier because younger people do have an advantage in terms of time, energy and brain plasticity. So yeah, don’t overcommit and stress yourself but if you want to try out French or flute or something to see if you enjoy it and want to keep it up, this is the perfect time in your life for that.

      1. Dawn*

        Like, I’m a classically-trained pianist trying to recover my atrophied French skills, so I want to be very clear that I’m seriously in favour of doing stuff with a clear benefit.

        Where I’m more concerned is that not all of her extracurriculars were named but it sounds like she’s got a ton of them and not all extracurricular activities are created equal. I knew kids who were involved in, like, all of that, plus student government, plus social event planning committees, plus youth volunteer organization leadership, plus more, and a lot of it was just…. doing things because they were told they should do things rather than keep up their own mental health or develop an appreciation for “relaxation” activities as well, like reading for pleasure.

        Those are the kids who turned into adults who now tell me “I have no idea how to stop working, I know I’m burning myself out but I can’t stop.”

    4. Snoozing not schmoozing*

      Gosh, does EVERY activity or interest have to be about how it will serve them in university and their professional life? LW, if you LIKE languages (or just want to find out if you do), take the language course! If you like music, learn an instrument! I was in high school several decades ago, and the one constant through my adult life has been playing music. I’m not great, and it’s just for my own amusement, but music’s one of the positive things I had when life sucked in other ways – and for other people, it’s art or creative writing or any number of things that have nothing to do with your academic or professional life.

      1. Dawn*

        Not at all the point I’m making here! I never even finished university; I don’t give a damn about that. And, repeating myself, I’m a classically-trained pianist, I’m sure not against anyone learning an instrument. Or languages, I speak two!

        But when you’re doing as many things as this girl seems to be doing, it’s worth asking yourself which ones you’re genuinely getting something out of whether it’s professionally OR personally. I specifically named stuff that’s mostly social exactly to try and not give the impression I was talking about things that will “serve them in university and their professional life”.

        Also, learning languages and instruments will absolutely do both of those things…..

      2. Cool Tina, Train Conductress*

        Thank you! I did a ton of extracurriculars in high school, but it was because they wre things I really cared about. They enriched my life and still make sense with the person I am.

      3. Allonge*

        I am on this side – also, now is the time for OP to try and see if they like these things. You can take up languages and music or whatever without any particular risk and see if it’s something for you or not.

        Get a job over the summer by all means. It will have advantages and provide a different learninge experience. But don’t let it overwhelm your life if the money is something you can go without.

  13. hanners*

    I worked a lot in my youth as well, but the jobs I did were more focused around the extra curriculars I enjoyed (eg. refereeing sports) or were only summer jobs. If you’re doing it to have the extra spending money then working in an area you enjoy (teaching music lessons, babysitting, working for a local organization) might be more beneficial than working for a corporation used to people who are using the job more for survival and will be more willing to take anything that is offered.

    1. amcb13*

      I really like this advice–I would say think about how your work might complement your other obligations, rather than compounding them.
      I worked in the children’s room at the public library shelving books for roughly 8 hrs/week during the school year in high school and I’m convinced that those hours actually saved my health and sanity. It was time for me to sit or move around quietly, performing repetitive and simple tasks (checking books for damage, putting them in order on my cart, shelving them in the proper places). The children’s room was a place I loved that I had spent a lot of time in, so I felt comfortable there. As someone with a schedule that, I think, was similar to yours (busy, lots of time and energy spent on school work, lots of time spent on extracurriculars) my job was an outlet for me to get something I really needed (periods of calm, quiet time). I wonder if you can think about ways to find a job doing something that makes your life a little better in some way, rather than one that’s just one more thing to juggle?

  14. Lacey*

    What you’re experience is a very normal part of getting a job as a teenager. I definitely remember a sudden shift when everyone got part times jobs and it was harder to get together.

    But, I will say, I didn’t get a job until my senior year. I did some baby-sitting before that, but my first job was the fall of my senior year and I had a summer job right before college. And I think it was nice to have the time to focus on other things.

    You’re going to work for the rest of your life.
    If you don’t need the money, maybe it’s worth it to have the time.

  15. Captain+dddd-cccc-ddWdd*

    Alison didn’t address the part about OPs parents going to her manager about her shifts, which I think is worth talking about (I know there are other answers on this site about it) – especially since it doesn’t seem that OP saw anything notable about that. In reality even if you (generic you) are ‘only’ 15 the work relationship is between you and your manager to work out. I don’t think OPs parents did her any favour intervening in that way (and doesn’t sound like she asked them to!)

    1. Student*

      At 17, I think you’d be correct. However, at 15, her parents may need to intervene to insist on compliance with local child labor laws and compensation laws, because some people will try to take advantage of a young person’s understandable lack of legal acumen.

      If the disagreement was over something less serious, the parents probably should’ve let the kid try to handle it first, though, and then I’d agree with you. Since it was over the total hours worked, though, I’m inclined to think it may have been related to child labor laws.

    2. Guest*

      Yes, thank you! I worked at a pool in college, and we had 15 year old workers. Whenever their parents tried to get involved, it was so frustrating. Yes, they are kids, but if they want to have a job, they need to be the ones communicating.

    3. Ness*

      The other answers on the site (as far as I can remember) were all about adults. I think we can all agree that an adult’s parents should not intervene with their employer. But for a 15-year-old in her first job, I don’t think it’s totally unreasonable.

      1. Dawn*

        Especially if you’ve ever met grocery store managers.

        Some of them are great, most of them will run absolutely roughshod over even the most fully-functional adult.

        When you’re a 15-year-old girl, I would not find it completely unreasonable that you might (unfortunately) need some additional authority on your side when trying to make your availability stick with a group of people who, frequently, respond to questions of availability with something along the lines of “I don’t care, I’m telling you that you have to work at this time.”

        1. Whence*

          Honestly, I’ve never had a manager at an hourly job with varying hours who didn’t push things at some point in some way about scheduling. Even the nicest ones who I really liked as people will always eventually try a just-this-once that ends up not being just this once. (Which I realize happens because scheduling is a perpetual headache on their end, but you still gotta look out for your own interests.)

          Which is to say that setting and enforcing these kinds of boundaries is super, super important to learn! That’s definitely something the OP could gain out of this situation, but I can’t really blame the parents stepping in to help a 15-year-old who hasn’t gotten much chance to learn it yet either.

      2. Colette*

        I don’t agree. 15 year olds who are capable of working a job should have the conversation themselves. Their parents can help them prepare, but they should be behind the scenes, letting the youth take the lead.

        1. Jamjari*

          Agreed. If it’s a legal issue, yes parent should get involved. Otherwise, they can coach and support. Really, communicating with your boss is an important learning experience.

        2. Properlike*

          Agreed. If you’re not old enough to advocate for yourself, how are you old enough to deal with a job that puts you as an adult in adult situations? (Rude customers, overbearing customers, problem-solving, talking with a boss, etc.)

          There are levels of maturity between 15 year-olds as well. Even in the “olden days,” I would not want my parents interfering with my jobs/managers, and they wouldn’t have expected to.

          1. Critical Rolls*

            By that standard, a lot of the not-teenage folks who write to this site aren’t old enough to work. Advocating for yourself is a learned skill, and it doesn’t seem unreasonable to me that a 15 year old in her first job doesn’t have it down yet. We don’t have a very complete picture of the interaction, but we do know that the manager is being a butt about a high schooler having a high school schedule, and choosing to schedule her double weekends instead of a weekday, so I’m willing to extend the parents the benefit of the doubt.

            1. Snoozing not schmoozing*

              Yes to this. I don’t know what kind of 15-year-old superwomen who had all their shit together some of the previous responders know, but the ones I know – and knew – and was – wouldn’t know how to stand up to an authority figure like a manager, at least not professionally and appropriately.

              1. Dawn*

                Doubly so when you take into account the power dynamics between a teenage girl and (likely) an adult man entirely aside from the manager/employee power imbalance.

      3. Princex Of Hyrule*

        Agreed. In my first job at 16, my manager would keep me until 11 or midnight on a school night no matter what I said, hours past my scheduled end time of 9PM — it didn’t occur to me that it was illegal *or* that I could just clock out and leave without being explicitly dismissed until my dad came in and Had Words with him. It’s not necessarily reasonable or unreasonable, without context.

    4. Yellow+Flotsam*

      I know a retail manager who wouldn’t hire kids without speaking to their parents. I found this really odd, but because of the demographics of the neighbourhood she found that it was parents that controlled the attendance of her staff.

      It was a wealthy neighbourhood and the kids almost never needed work – and so some parents treated it like a hobby expecting kids to miss shifts at short notice, not work holidays, and have very limited availability.

      My own area was less well off, and kids got jobs because they wanted or needed an income. They usually were responsible for getting themselves to and from work (occasionally there’d be someone whose parents picked them up), typically didn’t have family holidays to go on anyway, and usually good availability because not many other this on.

      As much as I’d like to say parents shouldn’t be involved – I do get that there’s times where exceptions to that make sense.

  16. Eldritch Office Worker*

    This is through the lens of someone who had to work and pay rent at 17, so understand it’s biased…but OP you have the rest of your life to work. It sounds like you have a lot of other things going on – give yourself some breathing room.

    Summer jobs, gig jobs (babysitting, etc), other opportunities that are low impact to your life – go for it. But this is a short and valuable window in your life when you have the option to focus on other things, I would not burden yourself with a job if you don’t have to.

  17. Student*

    You can also look for a different job. Some jobs (but not many) are specifically structured to cater to students in similar situations to you.

    At your age, many years ago, I had a job at a local library. The job was structured with student labor in mind – shifts started after school and lasted a few hours each, but ended when the library closed in the evening (not too late). We assisted the front desk with basic tasks, usually checking in their backlog of books returned throughout the day.

    Customer-facing retail jobs are (in my limited experience) rather less likely to structure things for high school students. Their business hours and needs are different and specific. You might have better luck with jobs that are back-end or not driven by specific busy hours. Restocking jobs, for example, might have student-friendly hours as an option. I know some of my friends took high school jobs doing telephone call-center based work. I hesitate to send you toward “gig economy” work because of your young age and the risk of scams, but it does allow for extreme flexibility in scheduling.

    1. The Original K.*

      This also tends to be true in college with on-campus vs. off-campus jobs during the year. I had a boss at my on-campus job who would say straight up that she knew our primary job was to go to [alma mater] so she expected to work around classes and exams. I had friends who worked retail or food service who would have to quit when their bosses would ignore their availability and schedule them during finals or something.

      1. Warrior Princess Xena*

        This is very accurate. I also worked in campus food service, and they would have us send in our class schedules so they knew exactly when not to schedule us. They also gave us near un-changing schedules week over week, and gave us a lot of heads up when those schedules did change.

    2. Chilipepper Attitude*

      I was also going to mention the library, they often have a job of shelving books or helping with children’s programs and they are specifically for high school students.

  18. ChemistryChick*

    OP, as someone who worked in high school, here’s my experience.

    I didn’t start working until I was 16/17 and it was only during the summer. I was also involved in extra-curriculars during the school year and those coupled with how far I traveled to even get to school meant working during the school year just wasn’t an option. That being said, even if it had been possible, I wouldn’t have done it for all the reasons you’re stating in your letter. If you truly don’t need the money, I’d say really think about whether the job is worth giving up new opportunities (like the martial arts and language program) and time with your friends and family. Personally, I’d say it isn’t. Enjoy your time the way you want to enjoy it now.

  19. Hiring Mgr*

    One of my kids is 15 and she does baby sitting and occasional “mother’s helper” kind of stuff.. it works mainly because the scheduling is much more flexible which is huge when you are trying to balance school, sports, social, etc . Can you look into that sort of thing?

  20. LHOI*

    If you do want to keep working, I would recommend looking for a job specifically that fits with your schedule, you don’t need to keep this specific job! In high school I worked at a breakfast restaurant that closed at 2pm, and it fit very nicely with a high schooler’s schedule (and the 8am shifts kept me out of trouble).

  21. Nora*

    Employers that hire 15-year-olds are REALLY used to people leaving after a month or two, especially at the beginning of the school year. I seriously doubt they’ll hold it against you.

    You could also ask if you can reduce your hours, or if they can keep you as an employee but not schedule you until Thanksgiving break or Christmas break, if you have more free time then

  22. JSPA*

    “learning a martial art, a language program, and volunteering at my local hospital” are at least as application-worthy (and resumé worthy, for a 15 year old) as working at the grocery.

    That said, if you’re not stretched thin yet, you might give it another few weeks (as in, in mid-october, give them two week’s notice). By then, if you sound reasonably contrite about how classes are kicking your butt more than you thought they would, they’ll probably be pretty understanding. (Two months is flakey by adult standards, but it’s not a bad run, at age 15. If it makes you feel better, it’s perceptually a lot longer a stretch of time at 15 than at 30 or 45 or 60.)

    If they’re desperately short-staffed, they may ask to keep you on as backup, which could be a win all around (you only say “yes” if you really feel you have the time).

    I’m suggesting this because
    1. you’re making money, which is nice
    2. you’re not leaving in a short month
    3. you’re waiting to see if the load is problematic
    4. what with Covid variants passing through, we none of us have any idea whether a month from now will be fun, chill get-togethers (at least for the young and healthy) or whether we’ll suddenly be back on zoom
    5. you’ll have enough time to crystalize whether you’re doing what you want, or what someone wants you to want, which will make you feel better about doing whatever it is that you do.

    1. Elizabeth the Ginger*

      I’m not sure if by #4 you meant “in a month you might have no social life because of covid and so you’ll have more time for a job,” but if a new variant arises that makes in-person socializing risky, then in that case any 15-year-olds who don’t need the money should DEFINITELY quit. At age 15, you shouldn’t take significant health risks for a part-time grocery store job.

      1. JSPA*

        If school is still in person…and if someone has to be the in-store shopper for higher risk people…and if the parents and sibs are also young enough to be lower-risk…then it becomes a fairly moderate increase in risk, and a real public service to do the job.

        The idea that only desperate people should do the risky jobs, and not care about the risk because they’re desperate, strikes me as at least as problematic, as saying “lower risk people are very kind to take on higher risk essential jobs.”

  23. FG*

    When I was growing up my parents said, “School is your job” when I talked about working. I did get an evening/Saturday job in the spring of my senior year to start earning for college expenses not covered by financial aid.

    Fifteen is really young to work. If you’re already feeling inklings of pressure on your school activities, even meaningful extracurriculars, then that’s a good sign it’s worthwhile to step back and reconsider. Part of growing up is learning to juggle competing demands, but it’s perfectly OK to decide that your priorities during the school year don’t include work at this point. Capitalism will claim the majority of your life; give yourself permission to opt out for now if that’s what’s best.

    1. Elsie*

      My parents had the same philosophy that school was my main priority as a teenager. Because I was able to focus and do well in high school, I eventually went on to college and grad school and now have a great job (there are other pathways besides college such as entering a trade that can also lead to great jobs and I also recognize that it was a privilege that I could focus on school without having to have major family or financial responsibilities).

      The point is that working as a teenager can be helpful but don’t do anything that would negatively affect your future career. So if you can’t balance work and studying for your exams, you will almost certainly benefit more in the long run if you give up your job and focus on school. It doesn’t sound like that is a problem for you at this time but just another perspective to have a long term view when thinking about your career.

      And I definitely echo what folks have said about summer jobs or more informal work like babysitting- this gives you the opportunity to gain work experience while keeping school and family as your priority. Best wishes on your decision! As many have noted, you have your whole life to work but limited time to be young and explore who you are and what you want to do.

  24. AnonArchivist*

    This is 100% up to you. You have to weigh the pros of the job (money, resume building, ease of getting the next job) against the things you are missing out on. It might be worth it to think about “why” you wanted the job in the first place. I sort of agree with other people who say you sound pretty committed to a lot of stuff. Having extra-curriculars three days a week and working the other four sounds exhausting! If something has to give, what would you want to give? Not what your parents want, but what do you want? What makes you happiest? Do you like having your own money? For me, that was a big motivator when I was getting my first part time jobs around your age.

    Having hired young people and supervised them, I can say that you will not surprise anyone if you quit after school started up again. Just be sure to be professional about it- give ample notice and be sure to show up and work well for your last few weeks. If you do that, you’ll be more kindly thought of than many a student who just walks out one day.

  25. PlainJane*

    I think the summer job idea is great, if you can find one (everyone else also tends to think that’s a great idea, too), and of course, there are “gig” jobs like babysitting, if that’s still something you can do as a teenager. I suspect paper routes have probably gone the way of the dinosaurs in the digital age, but there may still be other things that pay but require a little less time.

    Remember that, as a teenager, you *have* a full time job. You’re a high school student. That’s what you do during the hours when adults would be dedicating time to their paying jobs. So taking a paying job is, for all intents and purposes, taking a second job with all the attendant schedule craziness. There’s a reason adults with families usually only have a single job if they mean to spend any time with family. With all of your extra curriculars, it almost sounds like more jobs than that, too. Something has to give before your head starts spinning. Like Allison says, what it is that gives comes down to your priorities.

  26. Hare under the moon with a silver spoon*

    OP the seriousness and thoughtfulness with which you are addressing this problem you are facing are admirable!

    Making lists of pros and cons from Alison’s advice is a great start – many of us find when making decisions around whether to stay or go in a job its never always clear cut list of either pros or cons on one side or another so don’t worry if that’s the case for you too.

    You may also find that if you do decide on balance to leave a third way opens up if they do offer you reduced hours of say, 5 hours a week. You aren’t obligated to say yes in that situation either but perhaps worth thinking about.

    Ultimately careers are long and decisions made are never irredeemable (even if it feels that way at the time).

    Best of luck OP

  27. Startup Survivor*

    A few more comments: if you go the super hard core academic route or end up on a sports team, it will likely be impossible to have this type of a job. And that is fine.

    As I have gotten older, what I did find useful is having a not great job for a while. It really clarifies why you are in school and what your goals are for work. I have learned that being a desk jockey is much, much better than anything involving biohazards or customer facing work. And that is a great motivator.

    1. Manic Pixie HR Girl*

      100 PERCENT YES.

      I went through a rough patch (psychologically, not academically) my 2nd year of college, and thoughts of being stuck in my dead end summer job for the rest of my life was what kept me from just dropping out entirely.

      This was somewhat of a catastrophic view, admittedly, but it worked.

    2. Charlotte Lucas*

      I did a lot of customer- facing work in high school & college. It taught me skills I use to this day.

      But I also worked much better places than a grocery store. My first job was at a local library. The pay was low, but so were the hours, & I was well treated by the staff.

      It also gave me some insight into how local government works. Still remember some of the crazy board members. (Friends of the Library were lovely, though.)

  28. Butterfly Counter*

    I was in a similar situation to you when I was 16 and at my first job. It was a great summer job, but when school started, with all of the extracurricular activities and a new boyfriend and keeping up my grades, I, more than once, found myself crying without really knowing why. Like, publicly, around people I liked doing fun things. I think it was just a release valve because I was building up so much stress trying to keep up with everything and make everyone, including people I worked with, happy.

    When I quit that job, the relief I felt was incredible. I value that job to this day, but don’t miss it for a second.

    As you get older, you might find ways to balance your friend and extracurricular activities more easily with a job. I know that I did.

    One thing you might consider is going to a temp agency. That way, you can set your availability beforehand (including only wanting summer work or work over holidays), and no one is surprised, frustrated, or upset when you leave because time was up anyway. This also might be good in exposing you to different types of work. You might find you hate office jobs and like active, hands-on jobs better (or vice versa), which will REALLY help you in the long run.

  29. CLC*

    It doesn’t sound like the LW needs to work, and the amount of money you can possibly make working just 10 hours/week at a grocery frankly is not going to do a whole lot in terms of saving for the future. I agree with Alison that she should focus on school work and extracurriculars during the school year and work over summers. The other thing she can do is more “freelance” work to make some extra spending money during the school year (I’m thinking dog/cat sitting, babysitting, house/plant sitting, etc). In that case she would only take on jobs on a one-off basis when she knows she has the time.

        1. Ontariariario*

          Is there not a minimum income for taxes? Canadians don’t pay income tax for anything below $13,808 (this varies slightly for each province) and it’s about 20% from $14k to $50k (so someone making $50k would pay about $50-14 = $36k * 0.2 = $7,200 in taxes, or about 14.5% of total income)

          1. fhqwhgads*

            There’s a minimum to file taxes (12k-ish) but the income would still have been taxed. If you earn too little to need to file, there’d still have been taxes withheld already. At least that’s my understanding.

  30. Irish Teacher*

    As a teacher, I really think your studies ought to be your priority right now. I admit I am biased on this one, but you have all your life to work and the next few years are crucial for your education, so if the job is interfering with your homework or time to study or leaving your tired in class, I think school should be your priority.

    I do think there are benefits to working as a teenager, but I think that mostly applies to school holidays. Working during the school year can lead to students underperforming in school. I would generally advise in particular against working after school. I do not know what the situation in Canada is, but say you finish school at 3 and then work two hours from 4 to 6 and then have dinner, you are starting your homework about 6:30? 7? And after maybe 8 or 9 hours work between school and work. I know in Ireland, the norm would be to have maybe 2 hours of homework at your age, rising to 3-4 hours in the years to come. That’s a long day if you are sitting down to do that after school and work and are you really going to give it your full attention? Only you can tell that. There are people who can and maybe you don’t get much homework on those days or your schedule is different, but I do think that is something to consider.

    If you have extra-curriculars other days, I would also be saying that if possible, you should be getting a bit of extra study done on the Monday and Tuesday, if you have more than one day to do an assignment, so you aren’t under pressure on the other days.

    And you also have plenty of time. Heck, the retail giant I worked for between my degree and post-grad refused to employ anybody under 18! You are definitely not “supposed” to have a job by 15. Again, at least in Ireland, it would be pretty unusual to have a job at 15 (10 hours a week during term time isn’t even legal here; I just noticed that 8 is the maximum allowed for a 15 year old). I would suspect most people get their first job somewhere between 16 and 18 and it would usually be a holiday job.

    That said, I very much agree with Alison that it is your decision, though I would add the caveat that I do think you or your parents should be looking out for any signs that it is affecting your education. If you find you are leaving homework undone or something, I would say that is a sign that you need to cut back on either the job or extra curriculars. However, so long as you CAN do them both without it affecting either your results or your motivation for school, then it really is about whether you want to continue with the job or not.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      Best of luck with whatever you decide, by the way. You sound like a very mature and sensible teenager, so I am sure you will make the decision that is right for you.

  31. SomebodyElse*

    This is really a great question and one for which there aren’t any easy answers. I’ll try to give you some things to think about…

    -It can be a bit of a shock to start working a job into all of your previous commitments and downtime. With school starting up and all the things going on, it can feel like a lot! I always found that things settled in a little bit by Oct/Nov so the stresses you may be feeling now may not be the same in a little bit.

    -Jobs at your age should have an element of fun to them. Where are your friends working? Are there places where you can work and socialize at the same time? I found that my best jobs at that age were ones where I worked with other kids my age. In many cases I was able to expand my social life instead of giving up on my social life.

    -Back to the job itself… is there a different job that may have better hours that would fit in your schedule a little more easily? Don’t be shy about looking at unconventional locations. I worked at a wide variety of jobs in HS and University.
    -By far the best one (and I realize you may be too young for this) was at a school age daycare. I worked 3-6pm M-F. The short hours meant that I wasn’t sacrificing anything in a big way and I had weekends off.
    -I also worked at a hair salon as an assist. (doing laundry basically with a little bit of light cleaning). Lots of time to study (with blessings from manager)
    -A friend was a server in a retirement community. She worked the dinner shift and that was it. It also gave her the basics in serving that she used to start getting proper serving jobs that was better paying in her future.

    In other words, maybe a highly structured job like the one you have isn’t the best fit for you right now.

    -It is ok to quit part time work. Chances are there are lots of jobs around. If you know that you have a heavy semester coming up, involved in a school production, etc. It’s ok to leave the job and find another one when your time opens up. In fact, I’d encourage a reasonable bit of job hopping at your age. It’s a great time to gain experience in a lot of different areas.

    All this being said… your decision doesn’t necessarily need to be an either/or at this stage. Try different things and adjust as you need to.

    Important: This is totally the time to set boundaries with your parents about contacting your manager. You don’t want to be in your professional life far in the future with your mom calling your manager!

  32. CarCarJabar*

    My daughter recently turned 14 and started talking about getting a job- so these are real conversations we’re having at home. One additional consideration- if you’re planning on attending college in the US- then studying, earning great grades and your extracurriculars ARE your job. Your earnings come later, when you qualify for scholarships and graduate college without debt.

    I applaud you for being such a contentious young person. You’ll go far in life.

    1. Irish Teacher*

      I want to second the idea that the LW sounds very mature and thoughtful and will probably make a good decision here.

  33. Ama*

    Looking back on high school, I wish I’d worked about 5 hours/week. Would it have been easy to find a job that accommodated that? Maybe not. But I went into university very stressed about money and graduated with quite a bit in student loans. The extra money would have helped.

    You also mention, OP, how your parents seem to be treating your job as another extracurricular. When I got my first professional job after uni I moved back in with my parents to pay off my loans and they kind of treated it the same way, asking me to take time off work for unplanned non-emergencies. Part of that might just be having to adjust to seeing your child as a person with their own obligations and not an extension of yourself. But if it’s going to cause tension in your family and you’re not sure they’ll understand if you talk to them about it then that’s worth considering too.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, well, for a 15 year old the job probably is just another extracurricular. I know of kids who get chewed out by their middle school sports coaches for missing training sessions for anything other than an ER visit. I think this is unreasonable, and a big reason why so many kids quit sports when they hit their teens. To be fair, I’m in Finland where only academic achievement counts for college admissions to everything other than the arts, and where tuition is free up to and including a master’s degree.

      I think that extracurriculars should be fun, and that people should (be allowed to) quit as soon as it’s no longer fun. Oh sure, extracurriculars that involve a skill, such as sports or arts, also teach perseverance, so I’m not saying that anyone should quit as soon as they have a bad day and don’t feel like it. But if the extracurricular is only stressful and brings no joy, by all means, stop doing it after the semester is over or whatever.

      Sure there’s a risk of parents and adult kids regressing to their old roles if the adult kid moves back home after college, but there’s still such a huge difference between 15 and 23 that there’s not much point in making that comparison.

  34. Oofandouch*

    OP I feel for you. My parents made me get a job the summer I turned 15 (I think mostly to keep me from lying on the couch all summer). I worked 18 hours during the week at my regular job and another 18 babysitting. They loved it over the summer and I loved having cash.

    Then school hit. I was involved in tons of extracurriculars. My hours were cut back to 6-10 a week, mostly after school. But my parents had failed to account for the fact that I was 15 and thus completely reliant on them for transportation. They would pretty constantly ask me to change my shifts around same day because there was something they wanted or needed to do that conflicted with my work schedule. It drove me nuts. I was constantly making the argument with them that they required me to get the job in the first place and they also raised me to honor my commitments. My parents always made sure my needs were met and I could do fun kid things, but if I wanted to go to the mall or movies with friends I was paying for it myself, so I would also get frustrated when they asked me to miss work when I had plans for where the cash was going.

    In the end I went through all of junior year and about half of senior year with a job before the funding for my position ran out. While I really missed the cash I absolutely loved having my freedom back. I was way over scheduled as a teen and it was so nice to have time to spend with my friends and family before going away to college.

  35. AnyaT*

    Hi LW, I read your letter with interest as my son is 15 and just got hired for his first job, also in a grocery environment (and also in Canada!) His first shift is tomorrow so I can’t speak to his experience yet, but I’ll tell you our thoughts:
    – He is doing the pre-IB program in Grade 10. So the work is intensive, but not AS intensive as it will be next year when he enters the formal IB program, and when his grades will start being used for university applications. So his time is more flexible this year.
    – He only has one extracurricular one night per week. Any more I think would be unsustainable with a PT job (and I’m even questioning that one – we will see).
    – We are looking to limit it to 10-12 hours per week. Like others have suggested, is it possible to do one longer shift one weekend day, and have the other completely off? It’s a lot to be scheduled every single day of the week with school and/or work.
    – In our case, he is specifically saving for something – a class trip to Europe in May. Our approval for the trip was contingent on him contributing towards it. If he were just working for spending money I’d be inclined to tell him to feel free to quit if it got too much or if he had other interests. I kind of expect him to give up the job after his trip contributions.

    So unless there is something you specifically need the money for something right now, focusing on summer work might be your best best as others and Alison suggested,. Working full time in the summer would still leave you with free time, and perhaps give you enough to draw on during the school year.

    1. strange stranger*

      Former IB student here: the workload really ramps up. I definitely didn’t have time for a job when I was in the program.

    2. User 1234*

      Same! My son is currently working a Sobey’s job in Canada. He’s just 15. It’s crazy and I think he needs to quit. He was wanting to save up for some fancy motorbike thing that I refuse to pay for but I was ok about him paying himself.
      The grocery store is a bit of a nightmare, truth be told. They had him on 16 hours a week until we told him to cap it at 12. He has to work Friday after school and ALL saturdays. They put him on the butchers counter so he’s carting offcuts of raw meat. He’s worked there a month and I think he’s done.
      I know people on this site say parents are annoying and shouldn’t be involved, but if the grocery store was a little bit wiser and gave him (say) 8 hours packing bags or stacking shelves a week he’d be happy! But the manager is insisting on at least 12 hours and put him on the counter where no-one wants to work. Apparently they go through students quitting like crazy. I feel like acknowledging that the parents are an integral part of an under 16’s work schedule is the elephant in the room. If parents are a pain in the rear then maybe it’s because expectations are a little unrealistic or poorly communicated? My son gets his official schedule by text, and not until a Tuesday. So the whole family is on hold to see what we can all do.
      All this to say that this has been a really timely post. I’m going to tell my son to quit tonight. He has all the rest of his life to save for a motorbike.

      1. Properlike*

        Aren’t there occupational safety laws in Canada that would prohibit someone that young handling such a dangerous counter? Butchering? That’s a workman’s comp claim waiting to happen.

        1. jsyk*

          My first ever job was a butcher shop (at 15) in Canada and no, that’s not a thing….it’s not dangerous if you are trained. No more dangerous than cooking at home. Teenagers are not children – three years from now these 15 year olds are going to be living on their own and many of them will be responsible for paying rent and surviving. They’re capable, or they should be if their parents have done even the bare minimum of the job.

        2. just passing through*

          Sounds like they’re staffing the counter (probably packaging prepared cuts of meat and putting them in the cooler) rather than actually butchering the carcasses.

      2. transit exists*

        i don’t fully understand why the 15 year old cannot get to work on their own? is there no public transit? I had a job at 15 in Toronto and I was responsible for all of the labour of having a job, including getting to the job?

        1. Acronyms Are Life (AAL)*

          Lots of areas, especially in the US have limited or no public transit. I lived in a suburb and if I wanted to work in some areas it would take a few hours to get there using public transportation but maybe 15-20min driving depending on traffic. I can’t imagine how this would work in rural America, especially in the areas where the closest local grocery store or Walmart is like a 30min drive into town.

        2. Zap R.*

          Suburban and rural Canada are not exactly famous for their robust public transit systems.

          Neither is Toronto, for that matter. The TTC is a hot mess and bus routes in the inner suburbs (i.e. the routes most likely to be filled with teens going to work) never recovered from Ford-era austerity. I live on a major artery in the downtown core and the bus comes once every 25 minutes *during rush hour.* If you’re a kid trying to take it to work on a Sunday, you can forget it. Heck, the King streetcar is the busiest transit route in the country and even on weekdays it’s a crapshoot whether that shows up at all.

          1. transit exists*

            I grew up in Scarborough and worked in downtown and took the bus to work every day from 15-18, so like, this is not universal! I also lived in other medium sized canadian towns for many years and they all had enough bus lines to get you where you had to go, even if it wasn’t convenient…maybe stop treating your adolescent with a job like a child who can’t function on their own and they would be able to get to work without requiring the whole family stop.

            1. transit exists*

              also imagine if any other person who lived in toronto, including many of my friends who do not drive, said ‘ah damn my mom can’t drive me to work and the king car takes too long, guess i’ll quit’

              1. Mianaai*

                Speaking as a lover of public transit, who grew up in a rural area with literally zero public transit, I think you’re making a lot of assumptions regarding both OP and the parents of people OP’s age who have chimed in on this thread regarding the challenges of transit logistics. Just off the top of my head, I can think of the following:
                – There are legitimately a lot of areas, even in Canada, that have no public transit, or public transit that is woefully inadequate (e.g. a 1-hour walk to the nearest bus stop, for a bus that runs once an hour). This is a problem! But not one that OP or the parents on this thread can resolve singlehandedly.
                – One of OP’s concerns is a lack of time in her schedule to do everything she wants to do, and I think this is a common concern for high schoolers working during the school year. It’s reasonable to factor time spent on public transit into this! If there’s a big difference between the time it takes to drive vs. take transit, that’s time that could be spent studying, doing extracurriculars, or just relaxing.
                – There really is still a pandemic going on, and notably many areas have relaxed requirements for masking on transit. It’s not unreasonable to be concerned about additional COVID exposure risk from traveling on a crowded train or bus.
                – Even areas with robust public transit can sometimes struggle to provide adequate service to people with disabilities; otherwise convenient train stations may lack elevators, and older buses may not be able to “kneel” for wheelchairs.

              1. transit exists*

                It is a reply to the comment above, who is stating that they are structuring their entire family life around driving their child to work. but ok! no experience is universal :)

        3. Princess Clutter*

          In a different major Canadian city, and transit is abysmal here. We didn’t know that when we bought our house, but one bus an hour isn’t great for access to work. And the local stores that are walkable are limited at best.

  36. Lollipop*

    My best high school job was working at a family-owned plant nursery. I only worked Sundays during the school year. (They were open 8 a.m. – 6 p.m. so I didn’t have to work late). And during the summers, I could take on more hours when they were busier and I had more time. It was fantastic. As an added plus, I learned a lot about gardening that has stuck with me today.

  37. to varying degrees*

    I worked (on the books) since I was about 14/15 and haven’t stopped since (I’m late 40’s). Working at that age was a necessity and it’s how I put myself through school. I don’t regret it and I wouldn’t change it. You need to look at what is important to you: do you enjoy your job; do you like the environment/coworkers; for all the talk about “extracurriculars” is there something you actually want to do or is it more of “I’m supposed to be doing… because I’m in high school” (personally I didn’t want to play a sport/band/join a club, so don’t think you have to). I think it’s easy to get locked into an idea of how high-school is supposed to be in an ideal world, but that differs for everyone. If you enjoy and like your job, you shouldn’t give it up just because you are not conforming into the having as a kid mold. Enjoy your teenage years the way you choose, which may or may not involve working at the grocery store (or somewhere else).

    1. Delta Delta*

      this about the extracurriculars. A kid in my town legit had a stroke because there was so much pressure on to be on every team and every club and to build huts for hurricane victims in a developing nation and scrub waterfowl affected by oil spills and publish a novel and and and and and, and all that stuff just so she could look good to colleges. Really backfired for that poor kid.

    2. staja*

      I’m the same way – I have been working since I was 14.

      My parents expected me to get a job and really, if I wanted any kind of social life, I had to pay for it myself. I was a decent student, worked 1 job at 14/15, then 2-3 jobs 16/17, so I was busy most days after school and a lot of my weekends. I still managed to find time to hang out with two separate groups of friends, was active in my youth group (and on the board for all years of high school), and I even slept.

      But, that was me and the decisions I made for myself. I can say that my parents’ expectations helped to make me more independent and to be less afraid of taking risks. However, the longest time I’ve really been unemployed since then is a couple months. Earning my own money felt so good.

      1. allathian*

        I got a job in a grocery store at 17, because I wanted Levi’s jeans and my parents were only willing to buy no-brand jeans. Granted, they were also thinking that by that age I should be getting some work experience with an actual employer rather than babysitting for my neighbors (I was paid for babysitting, but didn’t pay tax on my pocket money income, so I couldn’t use those jobs as references), but that was what persuaded me to actually get a job. After that, I paid for my social life by myself, and even managed to save up some money.

        I continued working 20 hours a week after that summer, the maximum allowed for a 17 year old going to school, and only took two months unpaid leave when I had to revise for and take my matriculation exam.

        I was a decent student and a quick learner, so I got decent grades without studying particularly hard at home, except for when I took the matriculation exam.

  38. Delta Delta*

    I noticed a couple things in the letter that give me some thoughts:

    1. As others have noted, 15 is pretty young to have a job like the one you described. You seem bright, in that you know you have obligations, and that you can’t miss things. I do a lot of work with kids, and some of them just kind of … don’t show up for work because they don’t feel like it or they’d rather do something else. It’s good you don’t do things like that.

    2. That said, you’re learning there are times when there are tradeoffs. Yes, it might have been fun to decorate a birthday cake, and you missed out on that. But there will be times in your life, including in the working world (especially so), that you’ll miss that event or that thing because you had to work.

    3. You might have too many extracurriculars to have a job. Something might have to go, and it’s up to you to decide what that is. You may find you’ve outgrown Llama Photography Club but you really like working at the deli counter, so the club goes. Or you may find you don’t like the job so that goes. That’s fine, too.

    4. You may do well to find a job that’s a little more flexible than the grocery store. That way, if you want to keep working and earning money you can, but in a slightly different way. And you still have work experience, which can be helpful.

    1. Eldritch Office Worker*

      I think #2 is more an argument against the job. She’ll have to make these trade-offs the rest of her life – she’s 15 and doesn’t have to work, now is a time to enjoy all those opportunities.

      1. doreen*

        The thing is though, that it isn’t only jobs that require you to make trade-offs. The LW missed decorating that cake because of work – but any commitment can cause that sort of conflict, not just work. The LW could just as easily missed that cake decorating session because that was when the school band had a performance or because they’re on a basketball team that had a game at that time. I’m not saying LW should keep the job – only that the fact that there may be conflicts isn’t in itself a reason not to work. It’s about how the LW feels about the conflicts. I missed doing a lot of things in HS because I had to work and some things due to commitments involving extra-curricular activities – but in my particular situation , I would have preferred missing the cake decorating to missing (or quitting) work.

        1. Emm*

          I felt sort of horrible for getting to the birthday cake part and thinking “well, that’s how life is sometimes,” so I’m glad someone else brought it up. That’s not to say I want LW to miss the fun or sentimental moments in life— of course not! And it’s a strong argument against keeping the job, especially at 15, when you have the rest of your life to work. For the record, I’d be voting for LW to focus on school and the activities they enjoy.

          But I think this conflict can be a good lesson for LW (and other teens eager to work)— that the commitments you make, like work or school, will inevitably conflict with your other desires. Whether that’s spending time with your family, or going out with friends, etc. It’s going to happen, and sometimes all you can do is move on.

          I don’t mean to sound grumpy and old telling kids that life isn’t fair! But when I was a teen, I didn’t have any commitments as serious as a job, and I struggled with it when I started working after high school, having to deal with that time and energy feeling like it was being taken away from me. LW should do what they truly want; but either way, I’d advise them to reflect on this experience and learn something from it. It’s a lesson I wish I’d had much earlier in life.

  39. someone*

    I don’t think LW needs to keep this job, but I’d like to point out that there are a ton more students who want “summer jobs” than jobs that actually only need to be done in the summer.

    1. amcb13*

      I think this is dependent on location and job–I know around here any kid who is lifeguard certified is worth their weight in gold during the summer and can often pick up shifts at will during the year.

      1. Whence*

        I was coming here to say this; I know that the past couple years in particular, loads of places in the US have been so short on lifeguards that many public pools couldn’t open at all. I’d expect some summer jobs may be more competitive because more students want them, but they’re definitely not all a saturated market.

  40. Saffy_Taffy*

    OP, when I was your age I worked similar hours at a grocery store and a restaurant. My bosses were unhappy WHENEVER I couldn’t work. Can’t work during the school day- pushback. Can’t work past 9PM- pushback. Can’t work because my parents are driving me to a family holiday- pushback. At your age, I thought I had to give as much availability as possible and just make sacrifices. But I was wrong. You could say “I can only work saturday OR sunday,” or “I can only work both weekend days once per month,” or “I can only work weekends until 5PM.”
    You will have lots of jobs, and lots of opportunities to make money, so don’t be afraid to be assertive.

    1. Zap R.*

      Yeah, I agree. Bosses are going to whine when you take time off for a family party. They’re going to whine if you call in sick with the flu. They’re going to whine if you’ve been abducted by aliens and can’t make your shift because you are literally being held captive on the planet Venus. It’s just what they do.

      They make no distinction between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” reasons for missing work and they’ll moan and groan no matter what you do. Set your boundaries and stick to them.

  41. My+Useless+2+Cents*

    Sorry if this has been said, I haven’t read the comments yet but…

    What I remember most about working retail while going to school is wanting just one day off a week where I didn’t have to be or do something. You’re young, but going to school M-F and then working Sat & Sun, you’re going to burn yourself out. Speak to your manager about needing one day off each weekend. If your manager won’t work with you, I’d give up the job or possibly look for another job with a manager that will (at your age you really need a flexible manager). There is nothing wrong with just working summer jobs at your age if you don’t need to work and just want some spending money or to start saving for the future. So don’t feel bad about giving up the job if it isn’t working with your school and family schedule.
    Good Luck!

    1. allathian*

      Admittedly the store manager at my first job was sometimes a bit difficult to work with, and you really had to pick the right moment to ask for a shift change, but she was reasonable in the sense that she knew that if she hired high school students, they had other commitments too. But just exchanging shifts with another hourly worker was no problem. I also made a point of being as flexible as possible with my coworkers when they wanted to change shifts, which helped. It also helped that by law, hourly shifts have to be announced at least 3 weeks in advance, which made things easier to plan. The store manager also liked the fact that I was usually available for an extra evening shift if someone called in sick, even if it meant working a shift less the following week.

      But the thing that helped me most was the fact that only small hole-in-the-wall kiosks were allowed to be open on Sundays. We were only open on a Sunday if the following Monday was a bank holiday.

  42. Daisy-dog*

    There is a ton of value of having a job with an actual company as a teenager (versus babysitting or mowing lawns). It means that you have a manager (or several). You have co-workers who are at different stages of life. You will have to follow a strict schedule and rules regarding clocking in-and-out. You will learn about paychecks and taxes. But this does not mean that you have to do this starting at 15!

    For me, by the time I was 18, I was a little bit “over” some of the normal high school extracurriculars. I still did a ton, but less. Also, my parents did want me to have a job to be able to learn about money management and everything listed above. I found a job at my favorite chain clothing store and really appreciated having the great discount.

  43. IWishIHadAFancyUserName*

    What other marketable skills do you have? I had great sewing skills from a very young age, and when I was in high school, I had a very respectable income stream from replacing zippers, sewing on buttons, shortening pants/sleeves, and altering/hemming prom dresses. One of my friends gave piano lessons. Another super smart friend tutored classmates to prep for college entrance exams. All of these income opportunities allowed us to control our time, and to decide how many “clients” we took on.

    All that said, I vote with Alison — if you don’t have a financial need for a job at 15, I would focus on school. You have your whole life ahead of you to work and explore/develop your interests.

  44. Agent Diane*

    OP ~ if you are happy with retail work, and can rejig shifts so you get to study, socialise and relax? Keep at it.

    If you don’t like retail work, quit or look for something else.

    it doesn’t need to be babysitting. I’m surprised how many commentators went straight to suggesting care roles, and I’d wonder if they would have done that if you’d said you were a boy. You already volunteer at a hospital so there’s no requirement for you to do another care-based job.

  45. kilo*

    OP – They hired you without an interview! This is on them. If they’d interviewed you, one of the things you’d have talked about in the interview would have been your availability, and how many hours they expect you to work. Now you’re finding that you have different ideas about your hours, and that’s not your fault at all. They should have discussed this with you earlier – particularly since you’re so young. Please know not all employers are like this, so it’s not a choice of this job, or not working. There are many employers who will happily employ high school kids, and who understand the limits on your time.

    FWIW: I worked on and off from about 12. My favorite high school job was delivering by bike for a pharmacy around the corner from my school. It was 1-2 hours 2-3 days a week, and the staff at the pharmacy was lovely. I also worked all sorts of different jobs over summers (I’m Australian, so Xmas and the summer holidays coincide, and retail places need to hire a ton of temporary staff just as the school years ends). Maybe working over the summer in some kind of seasonal gig is the answer for you?

  46. nnn*

    It would be interesting in this thread to hear from people who hire teenagers.

    Would OP taking this job briefly and then leaving it be seen as perfectly understandable, or would it be seen as a negative next time she applies for a job? Would it be better to keep it on her resume (and therefore show a non-zero amount of work experience) or to leave it off her resume (and therefore hide the fact that she didn’t stick around)?

    1. Properlike*

      You’re assuming she’d need to mention it to a future employer. Depending on the job, she may be able to show qualifications through extracurriculars/school leadership/volunteering.

  47. Colette*

    One thing I’d like to add is that the way to get shifts one day a week is to start in the summer and prove yourself on a more frequent schedule, then drop down during the school year. So if you get a job next summer, you might be able to work one day a week the following year.

    It’s good to get job experience and money, but that’s not all there is to life, and you’re 15. It’s important for you to be able to enjoy yourself, have some free time, and manage your other responsibilities.

    (By the same token, the grades you get in grade 10 do not determine your entire life.)

  48. chrysanthemum*

    I started working when I was 14 and haven’t stopped. I’ve been working for 15 years, and full time since I was 18. But I did that because I absolutely had to, to survive. If you don’t have to, don’t do it. I regret working so much so young, and wish I could have had a time in my life to enjoy being with family and friends without worrying about a job and its schedule. That said, I agree with Alison – a summer job is a great idea for introducing you to workplace norms!

  49. HMM*

    I worked during the school year ~20 hours/week and during the summer ~40 hours per week as soon as I turned 16. It was a basic office admin job for a local insurance company. Licking stamps, copying papers, answering the phones. While I did sacrifice time with family and friends/time to do other things, I don’t regret it. I find that I was much more capable than my peers at being able to tolerate just having to go to work everyday. Showing up even if you don’t want to. Doing things that were boring and outwardly acting happy about it. I got to learn professional norms (the one time I wore shorts to the office and the reprimand I got is still seared into my brain!) and how to talk to adults. I had references to call on for college internship applications. The financial independence was huge and something I value highly to this day.

    I can see how that job directly helped me in my career (more than my degree!) and it has set me up for success. I don’t even remember what my friends were doing. It’s is just trade offs and everyone’s right that you get to choose, but I think there are more benefits than just the money that might be going unsaid. I will say that personally my family was pro-working/pro-independence so that probably contributed to my desire to keep doing it.

    1. Mr. Shark*

      Yes, I just posted below–I think there’s a lot of value to working when you’re a teen. You have the flexibility to work and not have the pressure if you want to quit. But you also meet a lot of different people and that is valuable. It certainly expands your social circle and gives you opportunity that you may not expect going forward in your life.
      Even though you are working, it’s not like a full-time job.

  50. Mr. Shark*

    I get people saying you should enjoy your youth, and that’s fine. I started working when I was 15, and at one point was working up to 5 hours a night during the week. That was too much. But overall, I think it provided me a lot of access to new people–people I wouldn’t normally meet during school hours.
    Despite the work, it was also a very social experience for me. Those people I met we would go and do different things outside of work. It was both nice making money, and fun at times, even doing the work.
    I agree that if it gets too limiting for your school activities, it makes sense to decrease the time you are working. But I would encourage you to keep working on a limited basis, even if you have to quit your current job and find something that offers more flexibility.
    This is also a nice opportunity try working at different things, and develop your own interests, rather than just working a straight grocery store job.

  51. Sylvia*

    I cleaned the neighbor’s house and helped in their greenhouse when I was 14 and 15. Like others have said, it helped to have flexible scheduling. Summer jobs are the way to go, and some cities even have youth summer work programs through the city government where you can work with parks & rec, the library, the D.A.’s office–maybe Canada has something like that?

    When I was a senior and only had a few left classes to take, I had a job at a terrible restaurant. I hated it but liked the money, and was more than willing to quit if they didn’t give me time off for prom or graduation (they did).

  52. RJ*

    OP, I worked retail starting at age 16 when I was in high school. I started right after Thanksgiving, two weekdays and Saturday/Sunday. It gradually escalated to three weekdays plus a full weekend. I literally had no time to breathe, to consider what I wanted to do with my life or to really consider where I wanted to go to college.

    Working on a limited basis would be my advice and don’t get on the neverending wheel that is the ‘grind’. Pursue and develop your own passions. Take this time to really think about the future. Don’t be afraid to fail. Enjoy your youth and don’t let your life lead you.

  53. Ole Pammy's Getting What She Wants*

    If you do decide you want to keep this job, I 100% recommend removing one weekend day from your availability. You need a day off from commitments to take care of yourself and recharge, even if you are only working 4 hour shifts. You have the rest of your life to get burnt out, and it sounds like you might be on that track now – put yourself first!

  54. sugarplum*

    I worked closer to 15 hours a week from 8th-12th grade, and full time over the summers. I could not leave the job – not because I needed the money, but because I worked for my parents, and I was a lot cheaper than an on-the-books actual employee. I generally worked 2-4 afternoons afterschool (we were only open until 5 or 6:00, so I was home or off to another activity by 6:30 most nights) and Saturdays until 3 or 4:00 (we were closed Sundays). I was also an IB Diploma Candidate, had a few other extracurriculars, and, like, friends. Somehow or other it did all get done (I didn’t… sleep much). I did work a lot more than other people I knew, but didn’t necessarily feel like I was wasting my youth, though I wasn’t one to much Live It Up anyway. I definitely feel more that way about college, honestly, than high school, when I technically had more control over where and how much I worked, but had to work to support myself – I look at my friends who worked less/didn’t have to work, and later, at my students who worked less than I did at their age, and feel like they got a lot more out of the college experience than did I.

    If I were you, LW, I would see if you can get scheduled one weekday afternoon/evening and one weekend and see if that feels better to know that you at least have one weekend day free. If that’s not any better, and there’s no other tangible reason you need to work, you can decide at that point if you want to quit.

  55. CASH ASH*

    She is so sweet. If work interferes with studies, quit. School is more important.
    That being said, there are absolutely places where you can work once a week! They are typically places where it’s not what you know, but who you know, and the once a week would happen after you were fully vetted/trained.
    My 16 yr old works 1 day a week as a concierge at a hotel because I used to work with the hotel’s manager and he had mentioned in passing that he needed an employee who only needed a few hours. It was a win-win for her to work there. She has so much fun that I decided to work there once a week as well just for the travel benefits! The opportunities are out there.
    My advice is to never work full time unless you need it (bills/healthcare-she’s Canadian so the 2nd is a moot point.)

  56. Temperance*

    OP, it sounds like you’re in the economic position to be able to focus on activities that will boost your college and scholarship applications rather than work for pay. I would advise you to do things that will help your future rather than work in a dead-end customer service job. There are some people who will tell you that any work history is good, but frankly, that’s a lie.

  57. MaxFloof*

    Hi Op! I also worked at a grocery store, starting after I had a license at 16.
    PT, probably about 10-20 hours a week depending on the week. Prior to that I had worked a bunch of off the books gigs… babysitting, cleaning w/a friend for their dad’s business, etc. Other than having a little spending money and developing some killer grocery bagging skills…… the job was full of exploitation and crappy hours.

    The biggest difference between us is that I had little to no extracurriculars. My sister is the opposite and there is no way she would have stayed sane doing everything on her schedule plus a part time job. Looking back, I wish I had participated in more activities instead.

    What I wish it had taught me was to better understand my personal boundaries and basic self care. 15 is young and it sounds like you have a good support system to be 15. Congratulations on having the presence of mind to think ahead, to work hard, and ask for feedback.

  58. Kari from Up North*

    My advice to my kiddos (who had seasonal jobs during high school): you get to work your whole adult life. But this time of your life is really the only time you can play football, participate in musicals, play in the orchestra, throw shotput and all of the other extra curriculars offered today. And yes, you can do these things as an adult but it is much harder.

  59. NotMy(Fancy)RealName*

    My oldest daughter worked fast food through high school and during the school year she worked Saturdays only. Is that possible for your job? Cut back during the school year and work more in the summer?

  60. GreenDoor*

    I don’t know if this is a thing in Canadian school systems, but in the States you might be able to find job opportunities that not only pay you, but also count toward your school’s graduation requirements. I did that in high school. I went to my core classes in the morning and in the afternoon I went to work in a bank. I was paid a little over the minimum wage and it also counted for class credit. That might let you have the best of all worlds – getting real job experience, earning money, and pleasing the parents since it’ll count for school. Check with your school’s guidance counselor to see if there are any options.

  61. KK*

    I babysat my cousins every Monday-Friday during the summer for four years (when I was 12-15). Then my parents made me get a part-time job when I was 16 so I worked at McDonald’s (later a grocery store) for 24 hours a week during the school year (Friday night, Saturday and Sunday) and 40 during the summer. My parents planned to pay for my college tuition, but I was on the hook for everything else (rent/car/books/food) once I moved away.

    Part of it sucked for sure. I missed a family vacation one year because the grocery store wouldn’t give me the time off. But between working and a scholarship, I graduated debt-free, so there was that.

    My advice would be to wait until you’re 16 to start working and enjoy this last year.

  62. Qwerty*

    My overall advice would be to keep the job for a few more weeks and see how you are able to adjust before making any changes. It sounds like you are in still in the growing pains stage so some of this might get better as you learn how to adjust/balance your schedule. It will also help establish a slightly longer track record to help leave on good terms so that you might be able to come back over winter break or next summer – plenty of high schoolers are seasonal employees.

    a) Ask to dial back the hours. Would you be interested in working 8hrs one weekend day? Or change to one weekend day + one weekday evening? This one might not work out since they want you to put in more than less hours, but if they really need people having you for any shifts may be better for them than having you quit. Be sure to phrase this not as an ultimatum, but adjusting to the demands of high school having ramped up – you need to do less hours, you’d like to stay on if possible, are they able to reduce your hours or do you need to quit.

    b) Ask to switch to seasonal work. That means coming back for a few weeks around the holidays when retail gets busy and being able to come back next summer.

    c) Quit due to school work, but offer to stay on the phone list to pick up shifts when someone is sick or can’t make it. When I worked in a restaurant, we had to find people to cover our own shifts if we couldn’t work them so there were always a couple former employees on the list that would sometimes help us out.

    Addressing your problems:

    1) This sounds more like your parents problem – your focus seems to be on their feelings. They will get over it and are adjusting to always having you around combined with traces of their “little girl is growing up” They’ve never had to really preplan with you before, it’s a hurdle that would have come up eventually but probably been more of a battle of family time vs friend time where they held a bit more power in the outcome.

    2) School is your primary job right now, so I consider this the biggest one! If you are working too much for school, then its a problem. By mid terms you’ll probably need to either resign or reduce your hours, which is totally normal and fine at 15.

    3) I’m not sure I get the wasting your youth bit. Since you mention it coming from your parents, I wonder if it is influenced by them feeling that you are growing up too fast now that they have to plan around your schedule. No matter what teens do they are told they are spending their youth wrong, so I’d take this with a grain of salt.

    Best of luck in navigating this! Even though this job isn’t working out, it’s great that you are trying. A tip for next year would be to try to start your summer job closer to when school lets out, that way you have a few months of summer work and putting in higher hours as your track record to make it easier to go to a very reduced schedule during the school year.

  63. MJ*

    In high school I shared a part-time receptionist position at a real estate office with a friend. We just had to answer phones and take messages for the agents (wayyyy back in the days before everyone had cell phones). It sort-of sucked in that we couldn’t do the same things if one of us had to work, but the office closed at 7pm during the week & I think 5pm on weekends so we could join later. It was a lot better than most of the fast food & retail jobs our friends had.

  64. cardigarden*

    Folks upthread have suggested babysitting and dog walking as good ideas– I agree! My first job in high school was answering the phone at a family friend’s hair salon for 4 hours on Saturdays. I did that for about a year and then I worked the front desk at a small women’s gym after school until closing on Fridays (more days during the summer). Smaller, family-run places like that might be more flexible and understanding of your responsibilities as a student.

  65. Horthy Miklos*

    OP might want to read “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn” by Betty Smith. The heroine of that novel gets a full-time office job at 14!

    1. Nitpicker*

      But she wasn’t going to school. And it’s definitely because the family needed the money.
      Wonderful book though.

  66. M. from P.*

    As someone who has started tutoring at 16 and has had a second job most of my life my advice is to quit this job.
    There’s a lot of value in having a little slack in your schedule so you can go that extra mile on a school project, learn a foreign language or spend some time doing nothing which gives you an opportunity to hear your own thoughts.

  67. Grumpy Elder Millennial*

    From your letter, it sounds like you’re stressed about being able to keep up with school-related stuff – classes and extra-curriculars you’ve committed to. And that’s totally fair. And very smart of you to look ahead. Like Alison, I would vote summer job (with possible other things like babysitting, as commenters have mentioned). Unless you really need the money, I’d advise you prioritize school (and fun!).

    I say this as a person who worked through much of my undergraduate degree, then quit in January of my thesis year because I knew I couldn’t handle both and school was more important than my retail job.

    I’d also point out that there’s nothing wrong with taking a year or two between high school and post-secondary to work and save money (and explore). Are GAP years still a thing?

    You seem like a smart, dedicated, conscientious person, OP. I believe you’re going to do great.

    1. peaches*

      My daughter just finished high school last June, and Gap years are very much a thing. A large number of her cohort were doing them.

  68. OTGet*

    Hi, fellow immigrant child whose parents did not let me work in retail/food service as a young person as our class position allowed me to focus on school/extracurriculars here. My take: if you don’t need the money, focus on school and your music. No one will care if you quit after a month. A summer job is a nice compromise, if that’s what you want and/or need.

  69. Lemon It's Wednesday*

    My parents didn’t want me to work while in high school, but they did allow me to volunteer. At 16 I started as a teen volunteer at the local zoo. This ended up being an amazing experience and at 18 I started working there part time to help out with overnights, summer camp, etc. I stayed there for 9 years until moving into a different industry and starting full time work.
    My time as a volunteer taught me a lot about working and responsibility. It’s also what helped me get other jobs in college.
    The nice part about being a volunteer is usually the hours are less demanding and you can determine which hours to volunteer for.
    Working a summer job like at a summer camp and then volunteering during the school year might be an option for you if you want some cash for yourself and also build career skills.

  70. Properlike*

    High school/college teacher, mom, and worker since 11 (babysitter) here: A few things about your letter jumped out at me, OP.

    1) “I feel like I’m supposed to…” which sounds a lot like a really smart kid who’s trying to check off the boxes for “great high school experience.” Kind of the same mindset as “I will have a rewarding and/or fulfilling experience simply by going through the motions.” Yes, there are many kids who work part-time at 15, some of them who don’t need the money. There are many kids who don’t. They don’t all have the same family situations, academic expectations, extracurricular activities, etc. You also mention that you may feel like you’re wasting your youth, but perhaps that’s from your parents… there is a lot of “what other people expect” in your letter and it’s hard to untangle that from what you’re actually feeling. But good news:

    2) This is the age where you figure out what YOU want to do and what YOUR thoughts are. It’s also the age where you try as hard as possible to form an identity separate from your parents and usually involves a wide swing in the other direction (AWAY from them.) Kudos to them for letting you undertake the experiment, but I’d be throwing shade at them too for talking to your manager about your life. All this to say… this is a very normal developmental stage to feel like you need to start being an adult, and wanting to be an adult and independent, and still being in a transitional phase. It *is* your decision whether to keep this job. But…

    3) You’re already seeing that you can’t do it all. Welcome to adulting! Some people don’t figure this out until much later in life. I have met so many college students (so many!) who overschedule themselves in extracurriculars and then ask for classwork extensions because they’re “busy.” Learning to prioritize is mandatory to success. I recommend creating a week schedule for when you will be at your busiest, fill in all classes and extracurriculars, all study times and prep (be honest), sleep, exercise, and lastly family and friends. (And don’t forget veg/downtime to let your mind rest.) If you don’t have 10 hours on the page without crossing something else out, you won’t have time for that job during the year.

    4) It is okay not to work during the school year and work only during the summer, or to work different jobs for those different times. I *had* to work when I was young because we didn’t have a lot of money. I only worked full-time during the summers, when I often had a daytime full-time job and a part-time waitressing job at night. And it almost killed me not to have a single day off all summer long.

    And finally: It is okay not to have excelled in the part-time jobbing! I feel like you need to hear that failure is okay, even if it’s in the positive sense of “this is a choice I made that I discovered doesn’t work – lesson learned!” No shame in it. Other posters have given some good alternatives, but the other great thing about your age and assumed financial situation is that you do get to prioritize school, extracurriculars, and free time. Congratulations on the flexibility you’re already demonstrating in trying to figure out if something’s right for you.

  71. parent of been there done that*

    OP, some very canada specific advice:
    1- if you’re saving for college/uni, have your parents open an RESP, if it hasn’t been done already. With very specific contribution max, the gov’t will give you a grant.

    2- if you live in BC there was a huge shortage of lifeguards last year. If you live in the lower mainland, lifeguards make ~$28/hr. You can start at 16 and continue summers through college/uni

    3- opportunity cost: if you’re stretched thin now, what about future years? If you weren’t working, and dedicated that time to studying, would you be a top student? By working at a grocery store, are you denying yourself the opportunity to win a scholarship?

    4- if you’re looking for teenaged-level work experience, do you think working *through* the school year is different from summer alone? ( I don’t think most future employers will say: “oh, you only worked the summer at 16, I’m looking for someone who worked through the year”. The employers are mostly looking for work experience: ie can you show up on time, be pleasant to customers etc).

    5- without knowing what your extracurriculars are, can that be a paying job? For example, if you play piano, can you spend 4 hours a week teaching piano? My daughter did something like this and was absolutely able to pitch it to future employers as as customer-service skill placating the *parents* with unrealistic expectations.

    Good luck with your choices and school career!

  72. CAinUK*

    LW I applaud your maturity and writing in! You have lots of support and comments but I’d also offer one piece of additional advice: use this decision as an opportunity to practice identifying what YOU want and enjoy. It is so easy to focus on the “shoulds” — esp from parents and colleges — that you can start to lose sight of what you enjoy. Put another way: do YOU want to learn the instrument? Do YOU like the work and income? Do YOU want to spend time making a cake for a grandparent? Or are these things other people are telling you to do? Start from there and see if the decision gets a little easier :)

  73. Dasein9*

    There is a lot of very good advice here. I’m going to add a cold, calculating point: on top of enjoying your youth, this is also the time that learning things like another instrument or martial arts is cheapest. If you’re taking music at school, you are paying much less than you would as an adult taking private lessons. Same is almost certainly true for martial arts.

    Learning these things will enrich your whole life and investing in them now would be very fiscally responsible. (Speaking as someone who has been taking music lessons as an adult for 9 or 10 years now.)

    1. MJ*

      This isn’t true at our dojo fwiw; starting practitioners also are expected to help and eventually volunteer to teach as part of belt requirements. Adults are less likely to agree to donate their time to run someone else’s business so it’s more expensive in terms of time for kids and especially teens. The fees are higher for kids because they also need more staff.

      Much as martial arts have enriched our lives, if you are already overscheduled I would not recommend taking one on as they tend to require multiple nights a week to progress.

  74. acl*

    “But really, high schoolers find themselves in this situation with some frequency, you’re unlikely to be the first high school student they’ve seen quit after a month for similar reasons, and while they might be annoyed it’s unlikely to be a huge thing.”

    I suspect that’s a contributing factor as to why the LW got hired without an interview.
    The store knows students will come and go. One will quit, they’ll hire another.

    1. SoloKid*

      Agreed – grocery store interviews were basically “can you string a complete sentence together” and “when bagging, does light stuff like bread go above or below cans?”

  75. Beth*

    OP, a lot of what you’re describing sounds like a normal part of growing up.

    Your parents are going to adjust to you not being available every weekend. Part of you growing up is you having your own schedule separate from the family schedule, and it will become normal that they have to schedule in advance or work around your plans if they want to make sure you’re around for something. You’re at a really appropriate age for that process to be beginning–it’ll be rough for them and you at first, but you’ll all adjust with time and practice!

    Similarly, not having enough time to do everything you might want to do is unfortunately part of adulthood. You’re gaining access to a larger and larger slice of the world as you get older, and that’s great in a lot of ways…but it does mean it’s easier and easier to hit a point where your schedule is oversaturated. You probably can’t do all your current activities AND whatever new activities might catch your eye AND school AND work. You have to choose what matters to you most. It sounds like your parents are giving you the final say in whether work is a priority for you or not–take advantage of that and really think through what’s best for you and your goals right now.

    But at the same time, 15 is not an age where working is mandatory! It’s not even an age where working is the norm (at least not as a universal thing; economic class makes a big difference here). It sounds like you’re doing this in part because you feel like you should, rather than because it’s a necessity for income. It’s okay to decide that this isn’t the right time. You’ll spend so much of your life working–it won’t matter, in the long run, whether you start now or in a couple years.

  76. Former Manager*

    To LW’s question about are there jobs 1 day a week -yes, but you may have to work/ask for it. You can talk with your manager (you should, not your parents) to see if they can drop you down in hours.
    Example: I used to manage a fast casual restaurant in the US. We had a high school student who worked for us for a few months. His schedule got very busy (sport season) and he gave us a new availability list that only included some awkward (for our business) hours on Sunday. After talking with him, we were able to shift what he wanted into what we needed. He worked 1 shift a week for 3-4 months. After the sport season was over, he was available to work more shifts.

    Win-win because we retained an employee that was already trained, and he retained his job and didn’t have to hunt again.

  77. Brain the Brian*

    Alison, this is one of your best responses yet. Thank you for taking the time to answer this question; I love how your range continues to expand.

  78. Good Luck*

    Something that might help would be to keep at least one day a week for yourself/family/friends. Maybe try switching one of your shifts to a school day or drop down to one day a week. Then you’ll always have at least one day dedicated to rest/catching up with loved ones.

    When I worked & went to school seven days a week, it was super overwhelming. Working the same amount of hours but stacking them onto 5 days a week and having two days (or at least one day off) helped me a TON mentally.

  79. Not So NewReader*

    My thought is a middle of the road solution. I think that you should probably quit and try again in about a year or two.

    What I remember about sophomore year was it felt like Wednesday. Wednesdays always feel like treading water. Going nowhere and working so hard at it. The only thing good was that I wasn’t a freshman anymore. The word plays on sophomoric were not appreciated, however.

    I think slow down for a minute and think about what you really want to do here. You took the job because you thought your peers were working. Now your parents are saying maybe you should quit. I suggest picking a solution where you are able to state WHY you are doing X thing.
    “I am staying with the job to save for a car.”
    “I am leaving the job so I can do school stuff.”

    Being able to pick what WE ourselves want is a skill on its own. It’s very easy to be swayed by others. This is a great opportunity to start to “know your own mind”. This extends out to, “I am picking this apartment/college/SO/FT time job for [reason].” Knowing why we are doing something will help to prevent us from being whipped around by the wind and having no path in life. This is excellent practice for sharpening this life skill.

    Your question is tough because there is no right or wrong answer. It’s fine to quit things. You will quit many things in the course of your life. The actual tricky part is to pick up the next thing- let go of one, grab another. School is a good thing to grab. It’s a solid investment in your life.

    For myself, my father had been working since age 7. This was back in the 1920s. He worked all day delivering baked goods. He made 10 cents for it. He had to give it to his parents. Yeah, that sucks in too many ways. It’s understandable that he made sure I did not work. He decided that for me. While I understand his decision, I still think that he was wrong.

    I got odd jobs with neighbors and family. It really cut into what I was able to do. Worse, when I did start working I felt I was behind all my peers. They had already been working. Instead of feeling freed, I felt trapped.
    Back to knowing your own mind. I wanted to work. I wanted a paycheck. I knew that was what I wanted. I don’t see you saying these strong statements from you, OP, to me that means the answer is “No, not right now. Maybe in a little bit.”

    There is some benefit from wanting to keep up with one’s peers. But having a job is NOT the only way to do that. You can find other ways of moving toward and preparing for life as an adult. Your answer could be as simple as, “I want to try again in a year or two.”

  80. inkheart*

    I am in favor of you quitting your job and experiencing being an older teen. That being said, don’t fret about learning an instrument or taking martial arts. These are opportunities that will be available to you throughout your life. Chances are, you can find them at university. I started martial arts in college 40 years ago and am still at it.

  81. Hannah Lee*

    OP – I started working part time when I was in high school. Like you to save money for university and for my own spending money. My family was pretty poor, so sometimes my PT wages went to pay for food for my dog, or groceries, or basic household expenses too. So it was kind of a “have to” as well as a “want to” for me.

    But now I realize that although I wanted to have a PT job, I didn’t have to work all the hours they wanted me to work. I could have asked for some weekends off, in advance, when I knew there would be stuff I wanted to do. Or asked them to change my regular schedule if my classwork or extracurricular stuff changed term to term. And also, if the job I had wasn’t working for me anymore due to scheduling, I could look for a different one.

    I still look back at the week after my high school graduation, when all my friends were at the beach for the week, and friends of friends were nearby too, and I got a ride back from the beach town on Thursday morning instead of staying until Sunday because the bank wanted me to cover the drive up window on Thursday evening. And then work Friday and Saturday too. I was a teenager working PT; I was not the lynch pin of their operation. I could have stayed the whole week with all my friends instead of being so dedicated to a part time job at a bank that no longer exists.

    It’s okay if you want to reduce your schedule or even put work on hold for a couple of months to focus on other things. Especially if your parents (the people supporting you) support that decision and are paying your expenses. You’ve already demonstrated to yourself and anyone that cares that you can work hard and be responsible. You can find another job when you’re ready. (I bet your current employer would re-hire you without an issue)

    And I guarantee you, in 5 or 10 years, no one is going to care one way or another.

    PS – if this experience helps you learn that your priorities can change over time, and that it’s okay, even worthwhile, to change your work commitments accordingly, no matter what would be convenient for your employer, you will have learned something many many people don’t get until they are much older.

  82. Ruby314*

    You have a lot of great advice from other posters. Here are my two cents: at 16 I got a retail job I absolutely hated and quit after 3 days. It was fine. Then, I had a summer job between high school and college for about 40 hours a week that was super boring and really solidified my wanting to get a degree to get a job I loved (or could at least tolerate). During the following summer, I tried to get a retail job that fit within the bounds of an internship but they immediately started scheduling me when I told them they were off-limits so I quit after 2 shifts. Again, it was fine. It’s normal to start jobs and change your mind, it won’t hurt your career later. PLUS, you’re already reading AAM, so you’re so far ahead of the game!! If you don’t need the money now, I recommend you quit and enjoy your family and extracurriculars and occasionally take a babysitting or lawn work job, which are easier to schedule in short notice around family events, and also make yo more money quickly TBH

  83. WillowSunstar*

    It’s up to you if you want to quit. When I was in high school, I babysat during the year to earn more money. Although, I was also dealing with my mother dying of cancer and I had to be a caregiver after school until my dad got home from work, so my situation was slightly different than yours is. I did work summer jobs at least on a part-time basis and had at least one office job in the high school itself. My senior year was the year I got a summer job doing telemarketing. It was good getting used to people saying no, as it prepared me for a great deal of life after that.

  84. thelettermegan*

    You have my hearty permission to quit this job. Work doesn’t have to be tedious or labor intensive to count as work. You can seek out work that enjoy doing, or just revel in the fact that for now, your school and extracurriculars are your work.

    Putting work ahead of family/friends/studies because you think that’s what you’re supposed to do right now does not make you a responsible teenager. For those college admission counselors, it could even give the impression that you’re more focused on busywork and making money rather than finding meaning in your studies, your work, and your life.

  85. Rach*

    Enjoy life before capitalism takes hold. :P

    Honestly, just work during the summers – movie theatre, camp, pool etc. That way you can make money and still have time to do what you want due to summer flexibility. You have years to work – and high school jobs really don’t matter unless they are SUPER specialized (ie teaching theatre camp etc). I work with teens all the time in my current job in the summer – take time to enjoy high school.

  86. kiki*

    I worked part time in high school at a grocery store, starting at age 14. I thought it was a valuable experience and I learned a lot of practical life lessons I would not have learned through any of my extracurriculars or college courses, as rigorous as they were.

    That being said, being a kid is awesome. You’ll learn all those practical life lessons eventually. If you don’t have to work and there are important things that you’re neglecting to do, I’d quit. I needed to work, but in order to do so I had to drop an extracurricular– I chose orchestra. Working at a grocery store was valuable and I have some hilarious memories, but I do so wish I had stuck with orchestra. Finding time to learn an instrument as an adult is difficult and you don’t have the peer-support that’s built-in to things like high school orchestra.

    1. kiki*

      I’d also like to say that, unless things have really changed in the grocery pay department, there are jobs available that pay much better per hour and offer a bit more control over your own schedule, like babysitting or being a “parent’s helper.”

  87. CRM*

    OP, definitely seek out a summer job! You will be able to work full time while still having evenings and weekends to spend time with friends and family. I don’t think it’s necessary for you to work during the school year unless you have a big financial need. If you are just spending on small stuff, then you should be able to make your summer earnings last for most of the school year. Furthermore, in many areas there are a lot more job opportunities in the summer, so you won’t be limited to retail (lifeguard, camp counselor, snack bar cashier, and farm hand are examples of seasonal jobs my friends and I had in high school). You’re also more likely to have coworkers that are your age, which is a lot more fun than being the only teenager among a group of adult colleagues.

    I only worked summer jobs while I was in high school, and it was truly the perfect balance! I worked on a farm, so I got to be outside and active while supporting a local business, which I really enjoyed (it was also very hard work, which prompted me to stay focused on school so that I would have more options after I graduated).

  88. Anonymousse*

    Yes to all the comments telling you to babysit or something else. You’ll get better pay and can work whenever you want, and say no to anything and no one cares.

    I think 15 is really young to start working like you are. I started a shift or two at a grocery store at your age, but it wasn’t affecting my grades, my relationship with my parents or friends. I would really think about what you’re missing because I know although you’re only 15, you’ll only be 15 once. You’ll might be working most of your life. Prioritize being a teen, too. To important to keep up with your studies and friends. Socializing is an important part of growing up. Making minimum wage as a teen will help (money, and experience) but it’s not going to help all that much.

  89. Ann O'Nemity*

    My advice depends on how much you need the wages from the job. If you don’t need the money, quit the job. You don’t need the work experience for internships or other jobs. Consider summer employment, or something more flexible (babysitting, tutoring, etc).

    If you need the money, try to negotiate for better hours and/or more pay. You might need to find a better job to get those things. I job hopped a lot in high school, always for better wages and/or better hours, but I was doing it because I truly needed the money due to a bad family situation.

  90. Esmeralda*

    Alison’s advice is very good. I also think the advice about doing jobs that are less likely to eat up your family time (baby sitting, dog walking, and the like) is really good advice, for someone your age. You can likely get a regular baby sitting gig— parents do like finding a reliable sitter, and then they can plan on going out on Friday nights for instance.

    Some other benefits of whatever kind of job:
    * Earning your own money, even just a little, is a very satisfying feeling of accomplishment and independence
    * If you save some of it regularly, you establish a habit of saving and a mindset of working towards a long term goal
    * If you are saving some of the money for college, even if it doesn’t cover very much of your college expenses, you will have a feeling of contributing to your own education and your own future. Perhaps not now, but when you are in college and after.
    * If you are working retail or food service, you will meet people from backgrounds and with perspectives new to you. And you will understand more about what others’ lives are like. Waitressing in high school gave me a different understanding of how hard many people’s lives are, and I understood my own privilege a lot more too (and I had to work to save for college, my folks did not have the money to pay for me).

  91. GingerNP*

    My 16 year old (junior) got a job at a fast food restaurant close to our house that he started in July. He worked regularly until school started and then went down to about one shift a week. Then he got cast in the One Act competition play – so he’s basically unavailable until rehearsals and performances are over. He let his scheduling manager know and told him he would be happy to come back as soon as the One Act is over. I agree with Alison that folks who manage a lot of high school students are, to a certain extent, used to this exact situation and generally pretty happy being flexible, although I acknowledge that my kid’s situation, which is finite, is somewhat different than what the OP is describing.

  92. Chase*

    My parents told me I had to get a job at 15 and from then on I worked whatever the maximum hours were that was legal at a grocery store until I moved off to university. Throughout university I maintained a series of odd jobs on a part time schedule. I hated it, but mostly because my friends didn’t have the same need to work that I did.

    Having a job isn’t fun and there is likely always going to be something that you’re missing out on. But to Alison’s point, you have to weigh whether the trade offs are worth it.

    For what it’s worth, school should be the most important for a student, and extracurriculars could be important for universities. A future employer isn’t going to take a lot of stock in a high school job. But that doesn’t make the experience pointless, even if money isn’t an issue. When I was searching for a first ‘real’ job after university, I had potential employers comment that they were impressed that I had “actual work experience”, even if that experience had nothing to do with the job.

    1. allathian*

      Yes, this. Don’t discount the value of having a job at 15, even if all it does is prove that you’re able to commit to and keep a job at that age. That said, it’s perfectly okay to prioritize school and extracurriculars at that age.

  93. Captain Swan*

    There are part time jobs that will allow you to work just a couple of shifts a week. My daughter works about 10 hours a week (so 2 weekday evenings) as a barista at a local restaurant. She’s available to work weekends in addition to the 2 weeknights but they usually don’t schedule her for weekends. Weekends are big brunch days so they have mimosas and daughter isn’t old enough to pour liquor yet so someone else would have to make those. But the restaurant still schedules her to work every week so they don’t seem to have a problem with daughter’s availability.
    Daughter keeps working so she has something other than Marching Band and HS internships on her resume.

  94. Boof*

    Oh LW, you have the luxury of deciding whether or not to work – TAKE IT! Another great thing you can try to figure out now are where your values lie etc.
    I had a few summer jobs I didn’t “need” but were helpful in learning various things and some great memories. I don’t regret not working more though.
    One thought – in the USA at least there’s a way of saving to a roth IRA (basically a retirement account that gets tax protected when you withdraw if it’s post retirement) – but you can only contribute if you’ve worked, and there’s a limit (like $6000 this year I think?). In the USA at least trying to contribute (and maybe max out) to the IRA = really sweet compound interest for later in life. It can add up hugely! So if there’s something similar in Canada then maybe it can be some goal to work that much and no more. Or, heck, work less if you want – life is short! It’s good to fill essential positions but also ok to look out for yourself. It’s 100% ok to tell your boss you’re only available [sunday] or [monday evening] or whatever works for you, and if you’re manager doesn’t like it well, they can fire you and have even less people :P

  95. NotHurricaneIan*

    A job at 15 seems like a bad idea. If LW doesn’t know whether they can quit, they almost certainly don’t know their rights as an employee, and they probably lack the confidence to advocate for themselves. And unless your career goals include working in a grocery store, what are you really learning?

    What really bothered me was that LW missed her grandparent’s birthday. You don’t get thinks like that back. You’ve only got a finite number of those. No job is more important than your loved ones. She’s also talking about needing to study. I know Americans (and probably Canadians) don’t seem to value study skills, but study skills are what you need to be a “self-directed learner” (which is what employers want) and they’re key to time management and motivation and go beyond high school and university.

    1. Maisonneuve*

      OP can quit if they want. But I disagree that the grocery will teach them nothing. It’ll teach time management; respecting colleagues, customers and safety procedures; interpersonal skills; etc. These also have value well beyond school.

  96. Jessica Fletcher*

    Quit! You do schoolwork all week, and then work-work all weekend. At 15. I worked a ton in college and had zero fun because of it. Go with the summer job thing instead.

  97. Cat*

    Oh honey, don’t worry about having a job right now. You’re right, you’re missing out on your youth. You have instruments to learn and papers to write. School is an investment in yourself that no job will ever replace. Please quit and focus on yourself. You will be much happier.

  98. Minibar*

    In addition to all the informal work suggested (babysitting, tutoring etc), are you in an area where there is agency work? My teen did agency, so could pick her hours. The kind of work available was hotel housekeeping, waiting at events, bar and hospitality at events, filling in at food service for staff absence. She got to try lots of different things, and although a bit of a challenge having to slot into many new work environments, was really good for confidence. She’s thinking about doing silver service training now she’s away at uni, which is higher paid and still pick your own shifts.

  99. Sunnydale*

    As someone who didn’t have a high school job—your success doesn’t depend on having work experience this early. I think you can learn a lot from working a job in the service industry or in a field you’re thinking of going into, but in my experience, you aren’t going to lag behind your peers if you wait until you’re 18 or even 20 to take those opportunities. And if you’re planning on going to college, there will even be on-campus jobs that accommodate your schedule.

  100. Harper the Other One*

    Late to the thread, but OP, if it’s an area of interest for you, cadets (army, sea, or air) is an extracurricular that is a ton of fun but also works really well on a resume. It’s typically one parade night a week plus occasional special events (many of which are optional) and, if you perform well, the option to attend summer training. It’s only paid if you become a cadet instructor, but if your primary goal is to build your resume, cadets holds you accountable in ways other extracurriculars don’t, and references from cadet officers will stand you in good stead for both university and job applications.

    (I should note for those outside of Canada that Canadian cadets, while they do teach military skills – you march, learn some trades skills, and even learn to use air rifles – they are more extracurricular than military. It’s also a very common activity for kids from many backgrounds, although some faiths don’t allow/encourage participation. So I’m speaking very specifically about the Canadian cadet system here.)

  101. Lifeandlimb*

    Agreed on the summer job. I think that would be a better-optimized use of your time if you want the best of both worlds.

    Life is about finding balance as things shift. It’s never too late to make a wise change.

  102. a tester, not a developer*

    I’m in Ontario, and have a kid about your age. It’s been his experience that larger chains want you to work as many hours as the province allows for students (I think it’s 20/week), but smaller chains are a lot more flexible – so for example Tim Hortons wants you to work a lot of hours, but Harvey’s or A&W are OK with you dropping down to ‘on call/fill in’ during the school year. He has a friend that switched from Sobey’s (large grocery chain) to a local market/small grocery store for the same reason.

    1. Princess Clutter*

      Also in Canada. Your employer can totally be easy to work with or not. My 20 year old’s boss has been amazing about time off around university exam schedules and adjusting for each new term’s timetable. My 16 year old’s (ex)boss was pushing her to work far too many hours, and wouldn’t be flexible at all.

  103. Arachnia*

    Hey, I did this! (Also in Canada.) I worked for 2 years as a cashier in high school before I got my lifeguard/swimming instructor credentials. Admittedly, this was…you know, 20 years ago…but I can still relate to the same feelings and experiences (including my family intervening to make my schedule better! Whoops.)

    I was able to save enough for my first year of university (minimum wage was LOW, but I also had a decent scholarship from having really high grades), and then my summer jobs during university each paid for the next year. Your mileage might vary on this one, as I am in STEM, but for this reason I don’t regret it- I didn’t have any student loans when I graduated. And I feel reasonably confident that having had high school jobs probably helped me get university jobs. I don’t think I had the same level of extracurriculars that you do, though.

    (The other thing I learned was: I never ever ever want to be a cashier again. Being a lifeguard and swimming instructor was way better (and it paid slightly better), even though I did it throughout the year.)

    What I think Alison’s advice maybe doesn’t take into account is that high school summers are only 2 months, so it may be more difficult to find a summer-only job if you don’t want to do summer camp.

    There’s no real right or wrong answer here…but you’re not screwing up in some way. It sounds like you’re doing really well!

  104. NMSky*

    Your job is school right now. I think this grocery store job is not a good fit. Instead look for pet sitting, plant watering, and baby sitting jobs to make money. I would hire you for pet sitting! We are always looking for someone. The other alternative is tell the grocery store manager that it’s too much for you and you are going to need to respectfully leave this job. The only way you can stay is if she would be willing to let you work one 5 hour shift a week. She may be willing to do this because grocery stores always need people. If she says no then say thank you for this opportunity…I’ve appreciated working for you but my last day is XXX.

  105. You Can't Always Get What You Want*

    I have to disagree with Alison here. The reason for a job at that age is not just to make money. The reason for a job at that age is also to learn the value of a dollar, and to learn what people in grocery stores, and fast food restaurants, and cashiers in hardware stores and maids in hotels have to do to make a living, so that they are compassionate and not entitled adults.

    I worked at age 14 (with special permission from my parents) in the Kmart grill, taco fiesta, and our local hardware store, after school for 15- 20 hours a week, sometimes working until 11 o’clock at night, but that late only on weekends, not on a school night.

    I didn’t get to participate in every single extracurricular activity I wanted to do, just like I wouldn’t be able to as an adult. To my eyes, the key to making high school and a job work is to recognize early that you can’t have everything you want. It’s a lesson that serves well in adulthood. So does realizing that they reuse the fry grease in fast food restaurants, and diners, and having to pick up heavy vats of boiling grease, and put them into the storage facility, knowing that they are going to splash up and burn holes in the pantyhose you are required to wear as part of your ridiculous uniform. It gives you one heck of an appreciation of what hard work means, and also the value of a buck. Especially when you get that first paycheck and realize how much in taxes they take out.

    Understanding the lives of other people, (assuming that all of these extracurricular activities and things you don’t want to lose are things that you plan on using to get into a university, and that you don’t intend to work in a grocery store for the rest of your life;) understanding the lives of those people that do the service work that keep your life easy, is an extremely valuable lesson.

    You will never not tip housekeeping in a hotel in which you are privileged to stay as an adult. If you visit the states, you will never not tip the wait staff. You will never forget to say thank you, even to the person who makes your burrito at the drive through window in Taco Bell.

    These are as important, if not more important, lessons to learn, than whatever you will learn in your soccer club. Instead of only summer work, which of course I did during the summers as well, I recommend that you drop one extra curricular activity each semester, in order to accommodate working actually 15 or 20 hours a week. You will learn more through experience then you will from reading Barbara Ehrenreich’s nickel and dimed.

  106. blood orange*

    OP you are getting a lot of advice! I’m sure it’s overwhelming. Take Alison’s advice, consider what the commenters are saying, weigh those pros and cons, and really think about a Summer job.

    I did want to add a perspective that I’m not seeing much of here. I actually wasn’t allowed to work during High School. My mom wanted me to focus on school and extracurriculars (and frankly she was overprotective). I really agree that you aren’t in a rush at 15 to be working, but I definitely want to echo some of what others are saying to plan on getting work experience sometime in High School. When I got to college and had no work experience, I couldn’t get any interviews. I ended up going into leadership on my dorm, which eventually landed me an interview in the student life office, and the rest is history, BUT looking back I wish that I had worked in my Junior or Senior years of High School.

    Good luck!

  107. Dawn Zurzolo*

    Mom of a 14-yo here who could have written the exact same letter. My kid also had a job she started in the summer & loved that money! She was hoping to keep working 2-3 evenings per week, to include weekends, but her school commitments were interfering & she found herself frequently asking someone to cover her shift. The lack of down time, which *everyone* needs to avoid overextending themselves & the struggle with getting school work done (which truly is your job at 15) led to her decision to resign. I directed her to give 2 weeks’ notice & let them know she is hoping to see them next summer. Good luck to you in figuring this out!

  108. Princess Clutter*

    At 15 and in grade 10, as a parent I’d want you to have as many « normal » experiences as possible. Given especially how the last 2 years have impacted how much freedom and ability to do things for teens (I have 3 between 16-20).

    As much as my kids have needed to earn some money for post-secondary, having the ability to participate in extra-curricular activities, focus on learning, and spend time with friends and family all matter. My youngest was working earlier this year, and they wouldn’t work with her on hours. She kept getting far too many per week, and then they told her she couldn’t have the weekend she booked off for a sports tournament. I told her that if they wouldn’t give her the one weekend she booked off, I would support her quitting. In fact, I told her to use me and her dad wanting her to focus on sports and school as the deciding factor. I *did* want her to focus on school – and even more on friends at school.

    Any time we take a job, or an outside activity or commitment, we have to balance and make choices. Working weekends only May free up our weekdays, but have us missing or coming late to family dinners. Participating in the school play may mean we miss some other social times with family or friends. For the letter writer, right NOW, is this job giving the benefits and growth you want, or is it costing you too much in other ways? That conversation will look different in every home, and family, and situation.

    1. Here we go again*

      I hated school, but I loved my job at a pizza place. I didn’t have extra curriculars. I was country girl who lived a half hour car ride in the opposite direction of my parents work, and the closest town. classes at school began at 7:30, bus picked me up at 6:30 am. my parents got out of work at 6:00 at night if I had after school stuff I wouldn’t get home until 7:30 a night. When I got a car I got a job closer to home in the next town to afford to keep it. At that point I had no interest in after school sports or clubs. I wanted my independence that my own money gave me more than anything.

  109. Here we go again*

    I’m just wondering if anyone would’ve said that there was a minimum amount of hours expected a week before she was hired. Also OP should’ve come forward and said I can’t work more that X amount a week during school. This whole situation is about lack of communication. Quit if you can’t fulfill the amount of hours they require. Say it was a summer job. But let this be a lesson, don’t take a job without knowing expectations, and compensation.

  110. Burger Bob*

    When I was a teenager, I only worked in the summer. That was a lot more manageable for me, and I still got to have my own spending money throughout the year, since I could work full-time in the summer months and wound up with enough in my bank account to keep teenage me happy. I had a few friends with jobs during the school year, but looking back, I’m not sure how they made that work. There are so many potential extracurricular things pulling on your attention outside of school hours. It’s totally up to you, but I’d be very much team Work in the Summer But Not During the School Year.

  111. MJ*

    I know you said that your hiring manager wasn’t happy about only getting 10 hours a week, but around here everyone is desperate for staff. Can you ask for only five hours? If the difference is quit or 5 hours and staffing is really hard the hiring manager might go for it. If you make up your mind to quit it might be a compromise to try first. Sounds like you can certainly blame your parents for needing to change your weekend availability. The reason you are getting only weekends is likely seniority. Many people prefer to have weekends off so the new high schooler is going to get all the shifts that are otherwise hard to staff, but if you quit they still have to staff them so you may have leverage there.

    A schedule where you have after school extra curriculars three days a week plus working all weekend sounds like a recipe for burn out..

    In addition to cutting your work hours in half, and asking to be scheduled a single weekend day a week, I would drop one of your after school things. I bet there are better jobs out there though so I’d also explore other options.

  112. Nomic*

    You go to school 5 days a week (that’s you full-time job as a teenager), and then work you only two free days? That’s…a LOT.

    I like Allison’s idea of working in the summer, but keeping some time to yourself during the school year.

  113. Bookworm*

    OP – I worked as a cashier at Target when I was in school. I was able to be put on a leave of absence during the school year and come back on breaks. It maintained my employment, and I did not sacrifice for school. We also had an employee who only worked one day a week. I think there are options here. You should discuss with your manager.

  114. Coco*

    As someone who grew up in rather poor, I was required to get a job and start contributing to the household as soon as I legally could. Regardless of the circumstances, I think all teenagers (or college students) should have some kind of work experience. It teaches you a lot of skills that you will need in the “real world”. Time management, how to get along with colleagues, the value of a dollar, etc. And not to sound all “boomerlike”, but it does build character. I started working at a grocery store when I was 15. I’m in my 30s, and still work there on the weekends! (I have a full-time 9-5 desk job). Over the past 15 years I’ve cultivated a lot of great friendships! I’ve noticed a trend in the last 6-7 years. Fewer and fewer teenagers have jobs. I would be interested to know why this is.

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