COVID-19 is affecting everyone's plans but for teens and college students who depend on their summer jobs to make money, things can get extremely stressful. I spoke to a few college students about how they are planning to make money over the summer, and how the virus has affected their pre-existing summer jobs.
I sent out a message to some close friends who are in college that normally work in the summer, asking them to talk about how the virus is affecting their summer work plans and what they are doing in order to make money during these trying times.
Those who normally work at restaurants or anywhere that deals with serving food have had to make major adjustments. Erica Garfole has just finished her freshman year of college, and normally spends her summer working at an ice-cream parlor in Mt. Holly, New Jersey. "The virus in my case did not affect my job much," she says. The ice cream shop closed for two weeks at the beginning of the shutdown, then reopened for takeout orders only. I questioned what it was like to adjust to the takeout process. Ice cream businesses are normally very popular and attract large crowds, so I asked Erica to explain what it was like working out of one small window rather than using the inside of the store.
"If it is super busy with a long line we then have one person going outside and taking orders for people while the other employee is at the window helping another group." says Erica.
A lot of college students have part time jobs working in the food business, and will have to learn to adjust to the new conditions concerning the handling of food. Almost every restaurant I have personally driven by has a big "open for takeout" sign in the window. I was curious as to how or if restaurants were able to keep all of their employees involved in the business at this time.
I spoke to Cecelia Shively who works as a server, and is not returning to her job this summer. The restaurant in Wildwood, New Jersey, where Cecelia has been working for the past 4 summers is requiring that all servers take a Safe Serve course to be certified to serve food during a pandemic. Other than the fact that there is not much need for a server considered no one is able to be seated at a restaurant, Cecelia had bigger concerns about working in a restaurant. "For my own and my family's safety, I will not be returning to work until there is a cure or vaccine available to the public." says Cecelia. Courses such as the one she is describing is completely new, and can be overwhelming for a college student who worries about their studies from September to May. The course prepares restaurant workers for serving during a pandemic, that is if restaurants open up seating this summer. "I will file for unemployment in order to make money over the summer." she says. We can expect this from many other college students this summer who cannot find an essential job, or do not feel comfortable risking the health of themselves or their families.For Zackery May, his normal summer job is not at all an option for this summer. "My summer job is currently closed for the summer as a lifeguard so I will be without some extra money that would be nice since I am now a college student." College students highly depend on pools, beaches, lakes, and outdoor water parks for jobs since they are only open in the summer. "I will have to count on my job at Texas Roadhouse to help me" says Zackery. He is the only person I interviewed that lost their regular summer job, and was lucky enough to already have an essential one. Nonessential businesses on the other hand, such as gyms are where you would normally find a college student working. Unfortunately we were all extremely unaware of, and were unprepared for the unfortunate outcomes of a new widespread virus. All gyms were closed leaving the gym bros and the broke college students crying. I sincerely apologize if you identify as both. Alaina Miele normally works at a gym. She worked there during high school and was welcomed back to work in the summer. "With quarantine, the gym is no longer open and I am trying to find ways to make money from the safety of my home." Speaking of ways to make money at home, I also spoke to Liana Lichter who is making money by "tutoring over FaceTime as well as selling clothes on Poshmark or Mercari". Since we have plenty of time to clean out our closets, Liana mentions an excellent way to make money by utilizing apps where people buy and sell clothing. We are also extremely lucky to have interactive and face to face applications such as FaceTime in order to help your younger cousin with long division which your aunt has been bribing you with five dollars to do for months or maybe years. Why not make the money while there is nothing else to do.Liana is unable to work at Ulta where she normally does, and explains that "Even when they do open, it will be curbside pick up only and I wont get the hours that I need." Retail workers are pretty much out of luck in New Jersey until all stores are able to officially open. This is a problem that will carry on through and past the summer, as well as the impending economic decline of our country as long as thousands of businesses remain closed.
All of the people I spoke to are mostly college undergraduates who are learning to navigate their college career while balancing the financial aspect of it. COVID-19 is clearly impacting the futures of these college students when it comes to college expenses and paying off college loans. The only thing college students can do at this point is try their best to find a reasonable and safe way to make money during this time, and keep in mind that we are all going through this together.