Students no longer serve up fast food; emphasis now on career opportunities

Ariel Lucas, Arts & Entertainment Writer

Many people think that the only jobs teenagers can get at such a young age is at fast food chains.
But students at Perry Meridian are ditching the grease and trying something new. Instead of working at the usual fast food restaurants, they’re branching out, working at jobs they want as careers. The number of students working at fast food chains has been decreasing since the 1990s, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
A quarter-century ago, there were 56 teenagers in the labor force for every “limited service” restaurant, according to the New York Times. Today, there are fewer than half as many, a reflection of both teenagers’ decreasing work force participation and of the explosive growth in restaurants.
As more students work toward their careers, they get early experience knowing if that job is something they want to pursue. School-to-Career teacher, Kristine Brennan, helps students find jobs while earning school credits and getting some work experience.
“Ideally, it should be a field experience where they come to school for part of the day,” she explains. “The other part of the day, they’re out getting some sort of work experience.”
Brennan emphasizes the importance of having a job in school.
“I think it teaches responsibility, accountability, time management, and financial responsibility,” Brennan says.
Although the School-to-Career program allows students to get out of school earlier, they still have assignments given to them that relate to their jobs.
“They meet with me once a week and participate in some online activities as well,” Brennan says.
Sophomore Katie Ruiz-Valladolid is working toward becoming an FBI agent, and although she is not in School-to-Career, she participates in a law enforcement program called the Southport Police Department Explorer Post 1832 that is for anyone between the ages of 14 and 20.
“I joined about a year ago and I loved every moment of it,” she says.
Ruiz-Valladolid os passionate it because Southport is a small community. Whenever the Explorers are working an event, people come up to them and ask them what they do and even thank them for helping out.
The opportunity interested her and helped her pursue law enforcement as a career.
“When I was in the third grade, I used to watch Criminal Minds a lot,” she says. “I’ve always been interested in that field and wanting to help people, and be like those agents that catch the serial killers.”
Senior Brookelen Ward also does something she hopes for as a career. Ward works in a dentist office with her mother, who has been employed there as a dental assistant for many years. This has led her to realize that she also wants to become a dental assistant or an orthodontist assistant.
“With her being at a dental office for so many years, I got to learn a lot from being there,” she says. “I’m always learning more and new things to this day when I go in there, whether that be for cleaning or just to work.”