90272: High Schoolers’ Struggle to Balance Work and Studies

Palisades High School student Jesse O’Shea custom paints toys as her side job.


Getting a part-time job is a ubiquitous high school experience. Once students hit junior year and turn sixteen, many quickly rush to get a work permit.

Some students want experience working in general, some just want something to do, and others just want scratch. However, not all jobs are created equal.

At Palisades Charter High School, certain students have found unique jobs on the side that you don’t see every day.


Jesse O’Shea is a junior who works on the side doing custom paintings of toys. Specifically, cheap toys called “Little Pet Shop” which are small figures that come in packs of three.

Jesse has a list of prices for customers to choose from and request a design based on their preferences or specific instructions. She then mails the toy to customers using a platform called Etsy, an online marketplace for handmade goods. “It’s a really niche community, but I was kind of surprised by how many people were both interested in what I had to sell, and also how big people in the community like Strongwater (@strongwater_customs on Instagram) were willing to help.”

To her, this job is a steppingstone for greater future opportunities. “It doesn’t pay too much, only about $7-9 an hour if I’m lucky, but it’s something I really like to do, and I’m hoping it can get me a career in the arts later in life.”



Chantal Trent, a junior, is a rising singer-songwriter with over 14,000 plays on Apple Music. She debuted in 2019 with her self-produced single, “Falling”.

She makes her music in a home studio with the help of her friends and family. “I stopped over quarantine because, you know, but now that it’s over, I quit my day job to focus on music. I hope that I can put out an album or EP soon enough.”

Chantal has made $300 from plays alone off of Spotify. “I really hope I can get a job in the music industry one day, whether that means being a singer or just becoming a producer, I’d be fine.”

If you want to see her sing in person, she can be found during the monthly Open Mic Night at Alana’s Coffee Shop in Venice.



Junior Caprice Kayle has a truly unusual job for a teenager. In her free time, she’s a day trader specializing in options. On her best day, Caprice earned more than $6,000.

“I started with 500 dollars in March of this year and invested in different stuff, and I turned it into $10k within a few weeks,” she said.

Of course, with big gains come big losses– throughout her time as a trader, Caprice has gained $30k, and lost $60k, cumulatively.

She’s currently up $10k, so she’s cautiously optimistic about future investments. Being a good day trader means constantly having the market on watch, which she has no problem doing.

“I just don’t think school can teach me anything worthwhile. I’d rather do something that can make me money.” Caprice hopes to become a hedge fund manager or a real estate investor in the future.



Samer Awada is a senior from El Segundo High School who resells sneakers. His yearly salary? $112,000. Awada has 250,000 followers on TikTok and 7,000 on Instagram under the handle @sneaker_plug_la.

Samer buys up limited edition or highly sought-after sneakers and sells them to eager buyers. Weekly, he earns about $2,000.

“I just want to make enough money to travel the world,” Samer said. “I don’t want anything tying me down. I want to drive big cars and live independently on my own schedule, with money not being a problem. Live the life, basically.”

At his current pace, Samer is set to become a millionaire in a few more years. Which is, put simply, insane.

Samar Awada buys and sells sneakers. Here he is in front of items to be shipped.


Michael Mallouk, a junior who scoops ice cream at Rite-Aid,was asked about how he feels about that sort of money going to Awada, his answer was surprising. “That’s cool for him, but I’m fine doing what I do now. I’m earning money and experience.”

Mallouk has no plans for the future at present, however he makes beats for rap songs in his free time under the name MIKEYLIKESITT. “Going into music would be the dream, but it’s not exactly realistic,” he said.


Hearing the exploits of these other students, though, it may be time to reevaluate what exactly is less realistic than the very real teenage day trader. Every light side has a shadow, however. While it’s not exactly comfortable to talk about, there do exist students who do unscrupulous and sometimes downright illegal things for a price. One student who asked to stay anonymous told me about a friend of theirs who was a drug dealer before being caught and suspended.

“I think he just did it for fun, you know,” the person said. “He got invited to all sorts of parties, he carried a fake gun around, he made tons of illegal connections. And of course, he made a bunch of money too. But he got caught eventually, so I wouldn’t say it was worth it.”

Certain jobs may not pay too well at present, but they provide good experience for the future. Being a drug dealer, the only future in store is a nice spot in a juvenile detention center, or worse. Nothing is truly impossible or unrealistic. Giving up on a dream because it’s “unattainable” will just leave regrets later in life. Don’t let it go to waste.




This entry was posted in Kids/Parenting, Schools. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *