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The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

The Student News Site of Palo Alto High School

The Paly Voice

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Everything you need to know about working as a minor

Both over the summer and during the school year, many Palo Alto High School students look for local part time jobs to earn money and develop real world skills. To find out more about working as a minor, The Paly Voice sat down with Meredith Gyves, the Paly and Gunn High School Work Experience teacher.

According to Gyves, specific legal parameters must be followed while working as a minor.

“If you are 14 to 15, you can work three hours a day, up to 15 hours a week,” Gyves said. “Juniors and seniors — 16 and 17-year-olds — can work four hours a day, up to 28 hours a week.”

Gyves said that for those who have a job or want to work, the first step is to obtain a work permit form. The form can be found online at the Palo Alto Unified School District Website, or at her office in the guidance department.

The next step is to complete the job application and interview process. For many students, this can be especially stressful. However, Gyves offers some helpful tips for minors applying for a job.

“Don’t take friends with you, don’t take your parents with you,” Gyves said. “Do not have your parents come in and get an application. If you’re too busy to come in and pick up an application or the work permit request form, you’re too busy to work.” 

Junior Rosa Schaefer Bastian, who works at Stanford’s late-night dining hall The Axe and Palm, is one of many students who has learned valuable skills from an after-school job.

“I have learned a new sense of responsibility since you always have to be on time and really make sure you are giving the work your full attention,”  Schaefer Bastian said. “This has also reminded me of the importance of teamwork since you have to work with your coworkers to make everything run smoothly.”

Aside from earning money and developing important skills, Gyves stressed that working a job can be beneficial for college admissions.

“It is good for people to have a job that shows excellent time management skills and colleges look at your work ability as though it was a sport,” Gyves said, referring to the time commitment and responsibility that a sport requires.

Students who want develop their work-related skills, build their resumes, or receive Career Technical Education credits can take the PAUSD Work Experience course taught by Gyves.

The class meets on Tuesdays from 3:05 p.m.-3:55 Paly and 6 p.m.-6:50 p.m. at Gunn High School. Students can go to either location regardless of their school. Spots are still available for this school year, and students who are interested can visit the Guidance Office, Gyves said.

Additionally, “if you’re in the work experience class, then you can work as many hours as an adult and your permit would be 8 hours a day, 48 hours a week,” Gyves said.

Gyves’ final piece of advice for job-seeking students is to take risks and keep trying.

“Give it a try,” Gyves said. “You’re going to be doing this all your life. It’s always difficult, you think everyone is looking at you but think of it this way: they all had to do it too. It’s never easy and it’s good experience. The more you go in and ask for an application, do an online application, the better you get at it. It’s kind of like dating – the more you do it, the better it gets until you find that right one.”

After talking to Gyves, the Paly Voice headed across the street to Town and Country to learn about which stores hire minors and why.


About the Contributors
Nisha McNealis, Managing Editor
Nisha is a senior at Palo Alto High School and Managing Editor of The Paly Voice. She also debates for the Paly Speech and Debate team and plays tennis, and she's the co-president of the Girls in STEM Club at Paly. Outside of school and extracurriculars, she loves spending time with friends and watching The Office.
Micaela Wong, Managing Editor