CHS students share how pandemic has shaped views on employment


Leah Tan

A representative for Mike’s Crew Carwash waits for students to arrive at her station at the job fair. The job fair was an opportunity for students to find and gain work experience while still in high school.

Raghav Sriram

Amidst the pandemic, junior Grace Sullivan laces up in her personal protective equipment before departing for work.
“I work at the Carmel Senior Living Center so each time I go to work I need to make sure I am wearing PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) so I don’t happen to infect any of the elderly individuals,” Sullivan said. “It’s been challenging helping seniors with their day-to-day activities while maintaining social distancing and proper health protocols and there’s been times where a senior gets infected and you simply cannot do anything but blame yourself for it.”

Sam Hawkins

Sullivan is not the only one to have noticed changes on her perceptions of work and the work environment. According to the Pew Research Center, a net 2.4 million women and 1.8 million men left the labor force between Feb. 2020 and Feb. 2021 in the United States, accounting for almost a 3% increase in unemployment between now and the start of the pandemic.
Patti Peaper, Student Services Administrative Assistant, said, “The pandemic has really discouraged students from actively finding places of work which is not necessarily a bad thing as it ensures their safety. With that said, there are many students who do want a job and can’t find one as businesses have been more cautious in hiring in general. So I find that a great disservice as it causes many students to be unable to acquire valuable work experience at a young age.”
According to senior Abby Jones, the virtual-only school plan presented her an opportunity that she could not resist.
“I chose the virtual-only plan this school year as it allowed me to work a lot more hours at my two jobs than if I had chosen the hybrid schedule,” Jones said. “By being virtual-only I can work at my jobs during normal school hours and overall my work schedule and school schedule has just become a lot more flexible which is something I really enjoy.”
Sophomore Aeneas Hoffman said that the pandemic has made him look a lot more fondly at his job.
He said, “It’s definitely made me a lot more thankful for the job I have (at Mcalister’s Deli). I’m grateful I still have this opportunity to go to work each day because I know a lot of people don’t have the same privilege because of this pandemic.”
Jones said she agrees and added, “In some ways this pandemic has helped me out and provided me an opportunity I would definitely not have otherwise,” she said. “I can go into my first year of college confident that I will have the financial assets to support myself.”
Sullivan said, “I used to work at Carmel Senior Living as a way to earn money while doing something I find meaningful, but the pandemic has kind of changed that in the sense that money has became a lot less important to me. A lot of seniors at the center I work at don’t have anyone aside from friends residing within the center, and if they do they have had extremely limited access to them as friends and family not residing within the center must schedule appointments and cannot stay for extended periods of time. This makes my work all the more impactful as I have the power to brighten up these seniors and make their lives easier each day,” Sullivan said. “Working at a senior living center has really made me consider a career in caregiving or nursing and I am beyond thankful to continue still working amidst the pandemic.”
According to the Carmel High School twitter page, the CHS job fair allowed students to meet with representatives from Dunkin Donuts, Kona Ice, and Carmel Clay Parks & Recreation from May 3 to 4.
Sophomore Nico Jagelka said, “I think that this was a great event Carmel High School decided to hold because for students, like myself, who are looking for places to work over the summer and maybe even during the school year, to view a gallery of potential summer employment opportunities and find and pursue the one’s that interests them the most.”
“I really hope students were able to utilize an unique opportunity like (the job fair),” Peaper said. “Working at a job sometime during your highschool tenure is going to teach such important life skills such as communication, teamwork, negotiation, problem-solving, and responsibility which will prove extremely valuable in the long-run when they choose a defined career path. So I would tell students that although it may be difficult and that is going to take up a lot of time, working a job as a highschooler will provide experiences you would have not had otherwise and is overall a great way to invest in your future.”