What’s it Like to Work on the Front Lines and Learn from a Distance

Venice Students Talk Jobs During the Pandemic


Many students at Venice have been involved in various activities to keep them busy throughout these tumultuous times. Some have turned to art, cooking, and writing, while some have gotten jobs. 

As baristas, cashiers, and waiters, these students have found ways to balance both education and employment in a pandemic. Many students have different experiences, whether good or bad, in regards to working. 

Managing both school and work during a pandemic

Clarisse Gonzalez, Class of 2021 (multiple positions at Pavillions): Managing school and work can be pretty tiring sometimes, but I have to get it done. I usually finish all my homework during school or right after, that way I don’t have to worry about it when I get back home from work during the week. 

But if it’s a lot of homework, I try to fit in time before and after work to finish all of my assignments. It’s actually easier to manage work and school now because it’s online. Before when school was open, I would have to take the bus or walk to work and I wouldn’t get out until 8:00 pm. Then, I would have to go home and finish all my homework and I wouldn’t finish it until 1:00 am.

Miriam Martinez, Class of 2021 (host and cashier at Urth Caffe): I wake up around 3 a.m. to turn in work or, at times, I don’t sleep until 2 a.m. so that I can do future assignments—just so I don’t have to worry about them later. 

Since everything is online now, it has been both difficult and easy to complete work since it seems like teachers keep assigning and assigning without knowledge nor consideration of every student’s life situation.

Memorable pandemic work experiences

Martinez: Feels like every day there’s a story to tell. 

Kevin Rios, Class of 2021 (store associate at Yogurtland and brand representative at Hollister): Like any customer service-related job, I’ve encountered many uncomfortable situations. 

Martinez: Once, a couple with MAGA masks came in. I knew I had to be professional and treat  them like any other customer. Although, while I was taking their order, they kept yelling at me about why we weren’t serving breakfast anymore. I explained to them that it ends at 2 p.m., and from there, we serve lunch and dinner. 

I could see in both of their eyes that they did not like me, assuming it was because of the color of my skin. I took their orders and wished them a good day and they proceeded to go up to the cashier to pay for their food. 

The cashier up front repeated their order again even though I had already, and they basically said everything was wrong. I heard the lady later tell the man, “They steal jobs away from U.S. born citizens and can’t even do their jobs correctly.”

Rios: One time when I was in charge of supervising the closing shift at Yogurtland, I had one lady accuse me of being prejudiced for not letting her inside the store. I had explained to the lady that we had a four-person limit inside our store, but she refused to understand and threw a fit after my co-worker who accidentally let another customer inside without verifying with me first. 

The lady then proceeded to play the damsel in distress, calling me prejudiced and insulting me after I had told her to wait. I previously had apologized for the misunderstanding but she continued being aggressive and told me to shut up. Fortunately, there were bystanders and other customers defended me. This scenario is just one of many. 

Gonzalez: I always have to deal with difficult customers. I just ignore them and the mean things they say because I don’t let random people ruin my day just because they are having a bad one themselves. It’s not really worth my time to argue with people and waste my energy. 

I think it’s messed up that people are still being rude to essential workers during this hard time, but there’s nothing we can really do about it. We do really appreciate it when people thank us and are kind to us because they understand that it’s hard to work during this pandemic.

To get a job or not to get a job—that is the question

Martinez: If any student is interested in getting a job during this pandemic, I advise to start building up resumes and activities you have done in the past. There are many people applying for jobs and just talk to yourself and your past activities so they can get really interested in you. 

Rios: My best advice is to not get a job during the pandemic unless it is necessary due to difficult financial circumstances. Many of us have risked our lives to work and make money. If possible, refrain getting a job at brick-and-mortar stores and try applying for positions that support working at home to protect your health.

Gonzalez: Apply to a lot of places and if you get rejected, don’t try to take it personally. Keep trying your best and don’t give up because the right job for you will find its way to you.