BY KAYLA GATES
As society enters the post-pandemic era, the working world is once again at the forefront. As establishments suffer from employee shortages, more teenagers are seeking jobs in the community. CCHS students are among those contributing to a teen job surge.
As high school students, many teenagers opt to pick up a part-time job in addition to their regular schedules. Whether it be to pay for daily expenses or save up for college, generating their own income can be a valuable life experience for teenagers entering adulthood.
While balancing a part-time job with a high school schedule and other activities can be a challenge in itself, many students struggle with acquiring one to begin with. The hiring process can prove particularly difficult for teenagers who often lack any work experience.
Demand for teen workers has been historically low, as they are limited by law in the hours they can work. However, in the post-COVID era, employee shortages are being filled by teenagers who are willing to fill jobs that the older generation no longer desires.
The teen job surge has become particularly evident in Cooper City. As more and more establishments begin to operate as they did pre-pandemic, many employers are looking to regain a crew large enough to support such proceedings.
Movie theatres are a prime example of this dynamic. The COVID-19 pandemic caused practically all movie theatres to shut down. However, as more and more begin to reopen, these theatres require workers to operate at full capacity during normal hours.
CCHS senior Julian Drada took advantage of this situation. Searching for an after-school job, he sought employment at a local movie theatre that had just reopened.
“I had been looking for a job for a while,” Drada said. “The hiring process can be tough, but I found a good opportunity with the movie theatre.”
Reopening businesses are not the only source of employment for teenagers. An influx of new businesses opening for the first time has also required the help of the teen workforce.
In Cooper City, the addition of a new plaza has created countless job opportunities for teenagers. Cooper Square has become an ideal source of employment for CCHS students. Located directly across the street from the high school, the plaza has put jobs within walking distance for many.
While more businesses are still in the process of opening, and likely hiring, a few establishments are already operating regularly. The new businesses include Tacogüey, Pōku, Bahia Bowls, Jeremiah’s Italian Ice and Clutch Coffee, all of which are heavily staffed by CCHS students.
CCHS senior Marek Covard was one of the many teenagers hired prior to the opening of Jeremiah’s Italian Ice. After searching for a job for many months, the new plaza presented the perfect opportunity for employment. While going to school in person for the end of his junior year, Covard was able to walk across the street after school every day to go to work.
“Since all of these shops are opening at the same time, everyone in the whole plaza is new to their jobs or the working world in general,” Covard said. “Adding the fact that the majority of us are students at Cooper, there is definitely a sense of community between the workers in the plaza, which makes for a fun experience overall.”
For many CCHS students, their fellow Cowboys are both their classmates and their coworkers. With the Cooper Square businesses hiring mostly CCHS students, many have a previous relationship with their coworkers from their academic endeavors.
CCHS junior Mariana Jimenez is another one of the many CCHS students employed in Cooper Square. Having just turned 16 years old, she was able to land her first job at Clutch Coffee. She now works as a part-time barista with several of her peers.
“I feel like it has become so much easier for students to get jobs now,” Jimenez said. “I am happy that I found one so quickly, and that so many of my friends have gotten jobs too.”
An emerging demand for teen workers has proven itself within the community. As more and more CCHS students acquire part-time jobs, the Cowboys have become the face of the Cooper City working class.