DePaul Prep students gaining career experience during summer months


With the school year coming to a close, it is typical to see students excitedly counting down the days until summer break with anticipation of warm weather, sleeping in, and time off school. 

However, for some high school students, summer is not just a “break”; it is an opportunity to work a summer job. Many high school students opt to have a job in order to improve social skills, work on time management, and start saving money for the future. This is a good way to get a taste of “the real world” and establish work ethic, motivation, and commitment skills. 

Sophomore Ermuun Bayasgalan’s summer job is in the food industry, an occupation that many students have over the summer. It involves working at Piazza Bella, a restaurant located in Roscoe Village that serves Italian cuisine. He manages all phone calls to the restaurant, carry-out orders, online orders, and he makes sure that the kitchen receives the correct orders. 

“It’s a lot of thinking because you have a lot to keep track of in your mind,” he notes. 

A common reason why many students wait to get their first job is because it can seem like an overload. Naturally, there is a lot of pressure with managing multiple tasks and keeping the customer satisfied. However, Bayasgalan explains some of the positives he has experienced, which can counteract the tension and stress that derives from the job.

“At the start, it got in the way of my sports, so I talked to my manager, who was considerate enough to let me work once a week on Saturdays,” he explains. “The pay also encourages the act of saving money, which is a good skill to learn for the future.”

Summer jobs come in different shapes and sizes. For junior James Kolpak, he certainly has a unique job; he runs his own business. 

“My job is running a sports memorabilia company,” Kolpak describes. “Things I do consist of running social media pages, interacting with clients, ordering new products, [and] having to work with a framer to get the jerseys looking nice.”

Kolpak sells valuable sports-related products such as jerseys, covering a wide array of players from a wide array of sports. He sells his products on Instagram, Facebook Marketplace, and Etsy, with his best-sellers being from basketball, baseball, football, and a little bit of hockey.

With being his own boss, there are some added advantages and disadvantages that come with the job. For example, without a coworker, work piles up more quickly since he is the one responsible for completing every task that needs to be done. When you are the only employee, handling extra work is not surprising, but it has certainly had a substantial impact on Kolpak.

“I’ve been left with losing sleep over getting stuff setup; it is a big sacrifice and not an easy commitment.”

However, this massive effort is all worth it to Kolpak. The fruits of his labor have been more than enough to push him through his struggles, especially involving his clientele. 

“The experience is stressful but rewarding. I’m always struggling to make sure I get the details of what the client wants right and that has a lot [to do] with the final product… but finally mailing it out and seeing their reactions is pure gold and makes the process worth doing.”

Unlike Bayasgalan and Kolpak, sophomore Andrew Brendel set off to find his first job this year. Fortunately, he was able to land a summer job at Walgreens. His official title is “Customer Service Associate,” which requires him to stock shelves, run the cash register, and help customers locate items in the store. 

“I wanted the job to get work experience over the summer,” Brendel explains. 

From a rookie point of view with no prior experience, working your first job may be nerve racking and it could cause second thoughts. However, Brendel has confidence. He says that he wants to show his responsibility and teamwork skills, and he thinks that an entry level position job like at Walgreens is the perfect fit for that. 

“I think it will be worth it to have less free time but more experience in the world of work in the future,” he says.

With a variety of positives and negatives, most students may wonder if getting a jump start into the workforce has been worthwhile. Sure, we all have to find a job at some point in our lives, but is it worth it to use up the last summer breaks of your life to work?

“I would definitely recommend high school students to get a job because we are right around the minimum age to work. The experience will help you get potentially better jobs in the future,” Bayasgalan says.

He has hopes of using his experience and savings to his advantage one day by starting his own business and becoming his own boss.

Kolpak, who does run his own business, describes the upsides of self-employment. 

“The best part is being your own boss and for those who want control in how they structure their work, it’s great. It’s more work and the reward is fantastic. You learn how to handle that and you also learn skills about some of your strengths and weaknesses in a work environment.”