Student jobs experience changes


Michaela Austin

Senior Olivia Reed is an “essential” worker at Dillon’s. Reed has been working at Dillon’s since December and said that she’s grateful to be able to have a job right now.

Due to COVID-19, students have faced many changes in their home and school life. One thing that has been tremendously affected by the virus is their jobs.

When it comes to jobs and the work force, some of the most common terms that are talked about are “essential” and “nonessential.” Some businesses that are deemed as essential are banks, grocery stores, hospitals and pharmacies. Some businesses that are commonly known as unessential are gyms, salons, theaters and more.

With stay-at-home orders and concerns of COVID-19, thousands of business have closed across the country, and millions have lost their jobs. According to “The Washington Post,” 6.6 million people applied for unemployment benefits in the United States from March 22 to March 28. From March 15 to March 22, almost 28,000 people filed for unemployment in Kansas, according to KWCH.

One student that temporarily lost her job at JD’s Country Style Chicken is junior Cristina Leos.

“So when we found out we were going to be closing, it all just happened all of a sudden,” Leos said. “One minute, I was prepared to go to work the next day, and the next minute, I was told we were closing temporarily. I was surprised for a second, but I knew that was probably the best choice.”

Leos has not been able to find another job, but she is one of the millions who has filed for unemployment.

“When we had our work meeting about closing down, we were all told to file for unemployment, so that is one way I’ve been making up for not working, but other than that, many places aren’t hiring,” Leos said.

Leos also talked about missing her job and coworkers.

“I miss being around people,” Leos said. “My job was full of my friends, so it was always nice. I do miss making as much money as I did, but I mostly miss seeing everyone.”

Overall, she said she hopes that things can go back to normal by the start of the next school year.

“I’m just hoping that things can be normal by my senior, and I also feel horrible about the seniors now not being able to enjoy these last months,” Leos said.

However, people who have been laid off are not the only ones that are experiencing changes. Essential workers are also experiencing changes to their job, whether it is to their procedures and duties or to the overall atmosphere in the building. Some of the changes consumers have noticed are markers or stickers on the floor to practice keeping a distance of six feet, employees wiping down shopping carts and stores putting glass or plastic in front of cash registers.

One student that is considered an essential worker at Dillon’s is senior Olivia Reed.

“It is unpredictable,” Reed said about being an essential worker. “One night they let me leave three hours early, and the next it was so busy we couldn’t keep up. Every time a new development is released, people go insane. When the governor announced last week that we should stay at home unless you’re essential, people started rushing in about five minutes later, and we were out of the most common items within two hours. They make our schedule around when the most people come into the store, and there has been no consistency whatsoever.”

One change Reed has experienced is going from working with salad bar to helping with produce.

“I was hired to work the salad bar initially back in December, but they have since closed it until further notice for everyone’s safety,” Reed said “It was a very independent job, compared to now, as I am helping out as a produce worker. I used to work in the back room by myself and go sometimes an hour without seeing another person. With these events, I have gotten to know my coworkers a lot better. I really miss my salad bar, but it’s been fun working with more people.”

Although, Reed’s job title and its duties are not the biggest changes.

“The biggest difference is everyone’s mood,” Reed said. “A month ago, people walked around having a good time, and now everyone has masks on. Also, we had a salad bar. Also, we had toilet paper.”

Reed said she is not too worried about getting sick herself, but she is worried for her friends that also work at Dillon’s, especially the ones that are at a higher risk.

“I’m not very worried about myself,” Reed said. “My dad, however, is concerned for me. My job is to stock all of the produce section, meaning I touch everything every random person touches. I am just so extremely grateful to still have a job, unlike a lot of people right now.”