In school, my father was always the slowest one in the pack. He was also the slowest one of his siblings. Unlike him, most of his siblings g
He showed no curiosity in education and he was forever a mediocre factory worker and minimum wage fellow. He always thought that school was hard but schooling in the United States was pretty easy to me.
The problem for me was affording college, which led me to seek a minimum wage teen job.
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EVERY TEENAGER NEEDS A CRAP JOB
That’s how you scare them straight hahaha.
My dad didn’t allow me to work part-time. This is an example of where I think my parent’s lack of education and awareness hurt me.
I applied to a few part-time jobs under his nose when I was a sophomore in high school to help out and save for college.
I applied to a bunch of boba tea chain places popping up like mushrooms in San Francisco at the time.
(FYI, boba cafés are the Asian-American equivalent of a job at Starbucks or McDonald’s to another regular teenager anywhere else.)
Unfortunately, when they called my number for an on-site job interview, I was out and my dad picked up. He found out and immediately told them I was not allowed to work anywhere.
He said, “she has to focus on her education” and hung up the phone.
Instead of being happy that his daughter was willing to work for a buck, he concluded that I went behind his back and applied for work.
He was very angry with me and my mother to a lesser extent.
Given that I was a minor, another small teenage fish in the hiring pool, there was no way I was going to get jobs if there was no parental approval first.
I know that sounds odd to American parents who typically encourage teen jobs, but to my parents, my education was a lot more important than putting food on the table.
Related: The 11 Perks of Growing Up Poor
My mom didn’t go above 4th grade (that’s what she told me) so she didn’t know what it entailed to give permission.
Education > Everything Else
Education was the most important thing to not end up like them. So I can understand that…but still at 16…I wanted to scream back that, “it’s just high school…a medicore one at that.”
I could have passed with both hands tied behind my back and my eyes scrambled out by tweezers.
As long as you half-ass the assignments, scrape by on exams, be deaf and blind like I ALREADY was (we couldn’t afford glasses or healthcare) you can still get by with a B average.
It’s a public freaking high school in one of the worst performing areas with the worst funding — teachers WANT to pass you for statistical reasons. More funding for the
What I needed to learn was real time management skills, which a teen job could have taught me.
I couldn’t converse with my parents to express any advance feelings. I immigrated when I was between 3rd grade.
It’s just another symptom of immigrant families – the language barrier gets worst the older you get.
Plus, it’s pointless to argue with an old man with extreme anger and control issues.
I believe it is really, really important for a teenager to go through the rite of passage of working at a minimum wage job.
The minimum wage gig is
Plus all of those possible hours could have netted me a pretty penny by the end of high school.
I was going to save every penny possible. It would have given me a leg up on college AND taught me the valuable lesson of NEVER, EVER ending up in a life working in retail or food service.
Internship vs Crap Job?
By Junior year, I landed a posh-y internship with my friends that paid a stipend.
It didn’t make up for the money I could have made working afternoon shifts but the design and media elements definitely gave me a more interesting teenage “job” than working at a boba cafe.
My parents didn’t even know I had a paid professional gig because they came home from work late. It was the perfect crime!
But I would have learned a lot more about life and struggle if I ended up working at McDonald’s or something.
After I graduated from university, I did get into a crappy restaurant hosting gig and I learned the typical lessons of hating your boss, hating manual labor, hating the interpersonal politics, bad hours, bad treatment, lack of advancement etc.
I would have learned: “It’s like that with all jobs but at least get something that pays more than $8/hour to deal with it. :P”
FANTASTIC lesson, but a little too late. I wish I learned those when I was 16, not 22.
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