Jugglers Wanted


A young man with my last name began his junior year in high school in August. He juggles school and homework with a couple of part-time jobs – an outside seasonal one and a steady job indoors. In the spring he’ll add another ball to his juggling act when varsity baseball rolls around. He is not the only student-athlete-employee-juggler in high school. This circus act is repeated from one community and school district to the next.

The young man’s newest job is at an unnamed big box retailer (hint: he looks great in crimson and khaki). Dad’s biggest wish is a rags-to-riches success story that takes a 16-year old from stocking shelves and running a cash register to a corporate vice president position, complete with a corner office. And stock options. A guy can still dream, right?

The good news: he likes the new job and its pace. The better news: his regular paycheck relieves Dad of his most challenging role – a walking and talking ATM. The best news: he’s a saver. The advice I gave him a year ago did not sink in until a bank associate offered up a verbatim suggestion, “Put one hundred dollars away every week and you’ll be surprised after a year.” The youngster did not make it to $5,200 but he saved more than he spent. The grown-up ATM remains available for unplanned emergencies, i.e. crimson and khaki apparel, a laptop, or a guaranteed error-free infielder’s glove.

More than ever, businesses of all sizes and from all sectors are relying on the part-time shifts high schoolers provide. For the global retailer, imagine the scheduling required from pre-opening before 8:00 a.m. to post-closing past 10:00 p.m. The same can be said for a family-owned restaurant that opens for lunch and closes at 10:00, 11:00, or later. Add a breakfast option and the day just got longer and the scheduling more difficult. Ditto for coffee shops, nursing homes, grocery stores, automotive shops, and light manufacturing.

For employers and high schoolers, there’s a likely win-win solution to all of this. Businesses get a partial solution to their workforce needs. Students learn real life work experiences, earn paychecks, and may choose a career path. Opportunities for full- and part-time employment have never been better. The trick is in the juggling act for both employers and associates.

Here’s to the young jugglers who keep local economies moving forward!