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The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


The student news site of Downers Grove South High School


Teens in customer service: A difficult job makes for a lifetime of learning

Sabrina Crowley
Cinemark hires many teenagers from surrounding schools such as BHS, DGN and DGS.

Whether it be a long-term position or a summer job, approximately six million teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 are employed, including those at DGS. Teenagers all over the country gain work experience during high school, often in customer service jobs. Although beneficial, these jobs can present their own set of challenges, as they can be difficult to navigate and adapt to.

Kush Patel is an assistant manager at Cinemark Seven Bridges. Starting in the concessions department as a teenager and working his way up, he has been an employee at Cinemark for five years. Patel shared some of the ups and downs of working in customer service.

“The difficult part would be having to deal with the customers. Essentially, in some situations with an angry customer, you can’t really do anything to fix. They want a fix but there’s no fix for their issue so you just have to try and explain your best way to a different solution, and at times they might not want that… But the best part is getting to meet new people, saying hello to customers,” Patel said.

The occasional difficult nature of customers may also affect teenagers. Senior Claire Rhoads, who worked as a cashier and hostess at Home Run Inn over the summer, observed some of the ways customers would treat her based on her age.

“I feel like sometimes they underestimated my capabilities as a worker… Like they second-guessed all of my actions because of my age, even though the majority of people working there are teenagers. They would always second-guess me and ask for my manager,” Rhoads said.

Junior Addison Weinstein has been working at Kohl’s since the beginning of the summer and found that customers do not mind his age as much as he had expected.

“Honestly when I started working I thought more people would make comments because I’m younger. I’m the youngest employee at my store, but I haven’t noticed any outright discrimination or favoritism of my older colleagues,” Weinstein said.

Customer service jobs can be difficult for teenagers, especially those trying to avoid making mistakes while also focusing on the stress of school and daily life. However, having a customer service job as a teen can be very beneficial. Senior Ben Espinoza works at Panera as a sandwich and salad maker and explained why he believes having a job as a teenager is helpful.

“Well, you get money; I feel like that’s the foremost incentive to work. But another good thing is I have work experience, so I can put on my resume that I’ve worked before and I know what a work environment looks like… And for Panera specifically, I get a lot of free food,” Espinoza said.

The general consensus does seem to be that, depending on if they are able to work, it is an experience that ultimately helps teenagers learn and grow.

I think it definitely has helped me with my time management because there’s no one else to help you there; you have to do all your tasks by yourself. But if you do feel as though you can’t complete those tasks by yourself it also teaches you to reach out to others… It was just a great experience on how to get to know different types of people.”

— Rhoads

Not only do teenagers get to collaborate with coworkers and meet all new types of people, they also gain a new beacon of support and friendship from their job.

“Our community is very friendly, very helpful to each other,” Patel said.

There is no denying that customer service jobs require hard work and can present difficulties. However, when it comes to teenage workers, these jobs can be very helpful in teaching new skills that remain with a person for the rest of their life.

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