Students Balancing School and a Job During a Pandemic

Grace Kim, Co-News Editor

As a result of the pandemic, Chicago schools have shut down in order to prevent further spread of the virus. Over the past few months, students have had to deal with the challenges of remote learning. Some have also had to balance taking online classes with maintaining a job.   

The Hoofbeat asked Northside students the following questions about working during a pandemic:

  1. Describe your typical schedule going from online classes to work.
  2. Were there any significant changes to your job after the pandemic hit? 
  3. How are you able to manage working while also tackling remote learning challenges and COVID restrictions? 
  4. Are there specific challenges that balancing remote learning and a job pose?
  5. How do you stay motivated during these unprecedented times? 

Here are their responses:


Caili Savitsky (Adv. 101)

  1. I usually end class between 2:40-3:00 depending on if the teacher gives us asynchronous time. Then from like 3:00-3:30 I get ready and dressed. If I have time before 3:50, I usually go get a coffee from Dunkin’ because I am really tired. If I take the bus to work, I leave at 3:50, but my mom usually can drive me, and I leave at 4:00 to get to work by my starting time at 4:30. My shift ends usually around 9:30, so I’m home before 10:00, but I usually don’t do any homework because I’m too drained, so I eat and then get ready for bed. 
  2. I wasn’t [working at my job] before the pandemic, but there were changes at the beginning of the fall, and more recently when indoor dining [couldn’t] happen anymore. We’re more strict about how many people can be in the small space at one time, since it’s a small family run restaurant. 
  3. I balance out a lot of the work I need to do for school, like i usually do reading assignments for English during work when it’s slow, but I try to [get] most of the work done on Sundays and Wednesdays during colloquium since I usually work Wednesdays, Saturdays and Mondays. 
  4. I have to be cognisant about requesting a day off in advance when I know I have a test or essay due the next day. I also have to worry a little about having to cover a shift if someone has to call off. 
  5. I look forward to walking my dog and getting iced coffee with my friend and her dog that lives a block away almost everyday, as a little break from our families. I also try to read as much and watch too many TikToks. 


Santiago Serrano (Adv. 104)

  1. Typically, I wake up around 8 and hop on classes before heading to work depending on the day. Weekends are mainly filled with work.

    Caili Savitsky (Adv. 101)
  2. I have two jobs currently, both which were affected by the pandemic. My coffee shop job has had significant hour cuts due to how little business there has been; dine-in has been discontinued and not many people are too keen on exposing themselves to get coffee. I work construction as well and the pandemic has affected the number of apartments and houses that ask for renovations and roofing. 
  3. Working has not been too hard because I have chosen a pretty light schedule for this year. Remote learning has definitely been difficult without the school setting but I am going through it fine as of now. Now that college applications are done, so much stress has been lifted off of my shoulders.
  4. There is not a lot of free time for things that I want to do. At the end of the day, a lot of times I am tired and have little motivation to do anything. This cuts away from my other hobbies and being with my family. 
  5. Honestly, I just like to work. If I don’t work I get lazy and to prevent this I try to fill my time the most that I can. The pandemic has made this more prevalent since my summer was filled with boredom.


Katherrin Billordo (Adv. 207)

  1. My weekday shift normally starts at 4:00, giving me just enough time as school ends to eat a quick lunch, change into some jeans, walking shoes and a plain shirt and drive the 20 minutes to work. If I have a later shift, I’ll squeeze a small nap in between in order to mentally and physically prepare for the long work ahead.

    Katherinn Billordo (Adv. 207)
  2. Besides the obvious mask mandate, I’d say my job changed a ton because of COVID. I work at Michael’s and because of people’s newfound boredom and subsequently heightened craft/art interest, both our work hours and sales have increased. Delivery, curbside pickup, and in-store pickup have all made for a safer but more challenging workday. We also get the occasional anti-masker who will throw a fit and literally knock down items from shelves or hurl themselves at me and fellow employees when told to comply with CDC guidelines. 
  3. Short answer: lots of sleepless nights. Working upwards of 35 hours a week whilst attending online classes, being in an art internship, doing commissions on the side, and trying to be there for family members and friends during a literal pandemic has taken a huge toll on my mental and physical health. It’s exhausting to have to work to support my family alongside schoolwork and personal issues. The only way I’ve been able to manage it has been through making lists of what absolutely has to get done—homework, household chores, commissions, scholarship deadlines—and finishing that during any free time I get—during my lunch time, in between class brain breaks, on my way to work etc. Whatever I don’t get done, I finish late at night or on weekends. 
  4. Personally, being constantly exhausted and stressed out while having zero time for myself would be the greatest challenge. Sitting at a desk doing remote learning for eight hours straight tires me mentally and then immediately working six hours at a job where I’m always on my feet tires me physically. By the time I get home around 11:00 pm I hardly have enough energy to do homework or study before passing out. Both are very time consuming, stressful, and tiring. 
  5. I’d like to think that in time things will get better. One day, this pandemic will pass, the school day will end, and life will go on. If anything, this crisis has shown us to not take anything for granted and be thankful for all that we have. I use that to stay hopeful and grounded and focus on the things I can control- my grades, my friendships, my art- and work towards a better, more successful future that I know I’m capable of accomplishing. 


Noah Rios (Adv. 308)

  1. I work mostly on the weekends, but sometimes I work Wednesdays and Thursdays after school.
  2. I did not have a job until the pandemic hit, but I can say that I communicate online more.
  3. I think remote learning has made it easier for me to commute to my job, since I do not go to Northside every day.
  4. I have to balance homework with working. Sometimes I get home later and I stay up late at night to finish homework. 
  5. Having a job gives me something to do, and it takes up a lot of my free time. 


Jonathan Brody (Adv. 404)

  1. Well, I’m not a full time worker because I am too young for that, but I have had the experience of working part-time for a job during the pandemic. Online classes are easier to manipulate because you’re not at a physical location, but oftentimes they require very specific scheduling to allow yourself time for everything that needs to get done. Depending on my class at the end of the day, sometimes I will end at 2:45, other days it is 3:05. Once this happens, I take a break for a little bit until mid-afternoon and then head to work, whether that be on my computer or physically at work. I usually work for maybe one or two hours on a weekday, which doesn’t leave a lot of time for homework, but I am usually able to get it done. I don’t work every day of the week because school consumes quite a bit of my time.
  2. For the most part, no, but of course there were changes in general. No one is allowed to enter the store physically, and all the business is done by appointment, which is not done by me. I am just there to help with things like social media and other small tedious tasks. So, I mean I don’t know the full extent of the impact, but you can obviously tell everything that has changed because of the pandemic.
  3. It is definitely difficult and not fun in any way. Luckily, the place I work at is not very demanding and the business is very safe when it comes to COVID. Trying to do that and remote learning is not as easy as it seems, but I chose to work, so I guess it was my own doing. The only big issue is that remote learning requires a lot of time where you have to focus while just sitting at home. Sometimes the workload can be very overwhelming.
  4. I try to not let them interfere with one another, especially because remote learning is not very enjoyable and brings a ton of stress not just for me but for lots of people. One of the challenges that does stand out is that because we are in a pandemic, everyone is either working, in school, or sitting at home. There is very little time left for mental breaks, which I believe has led to a lot of mental exhaustion, for me at least.
  5. Well, my family is one of the things that motivate me during these times, seeing them continue to work is definitely something to help keep me motivated. They always push me to do the best in school and that eventually we will find our way out of the pandemic because life during a pandemic is something most people will never experience. It’s crazy how going into high school of course, the country decides to hand us a pandemic, where we are so limited in doing what we would all like to do. My motivation is both my family and the knowledge that this is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so I better make the best out of it.

With COVID cases still on the rise, it is likely that schools will remain closed for the time being. However, these students and many more are continuing to move forward through their hard work in and out of school.