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Working Locally: The Beginnings Of Adulthood

Students participating in local jobs in the Evergreen and Conifer area
Sullivan Ramirez
JJ Madwells on a warm but snowy 58° Wednesday, 10 January, in Conifer, CO. JJ Madwells is one of many businesses offering employment, with generous hours to students at Conifer High School. “It was different. I saw a lot of local people and more people that I know,” freshman Mason Hogzett said.

In the mountains, buildings are spaced, businesses are generally smaller, and commutes from place to place tend to take longer. In the Evergreen-Conifer area, the high school population reaches an age where jobs start to become a priority. However, in a more remote setting, high schoolers have to keep an eye out for what jobs are available. 

“I worked at JJ Madwells, they were very low-staffed and I was invited personally. I had a lot of friends there and I knew a lot of local people,” freshman Mason Hogzett said.

Hogzett worked at Evergreen’s local Italian restaurant as a dishwasher and chose JJ Madwells as his place of work because of the convenient location of the restaurant and the short commute from his home to work. 

“They were really flexible with my schedule and it was easy to get there. I usually worked from four to nine, but the days were different,” Hogzett said.

Hogzett’s shifts usually fell on weekdays and off days so that he could still attend school, keep up with homework assignments, and have adequate time to drive to work and back. 

“It was actually really easy to get a job. I just needed my birth certificate and my social security number. My shifts were usually on weekends, from two to 12. On Sundays they were sometimes shorter because I had school the next day,” freshman Khalil Jones said.

Jones has been working at King Soopers for three months and applied to earn income and develop skills for the workplace. 

King Soopers also offers after-school hours to the students at Conifer High School. King Soopers’ main audience is from West Jefferson Middle School, where students frequently walk down there after school to hang out. “I see a lot of people that I know, and I can work after school,” freshman Khalil Jones said. (Sullivan Ramirez)

“I saw people that I knew but I also met new people and had to get to know the environment. Working there helped me to know what changes I would want to make if I owned a store,” Jones said.

Jones chose to work at King Soopers because the home-to-work commute is short and they hire younger students than other local businesses. 

“Work is really close to my house. It’s really fun and I have nice co-workers. It made me think about being a chef, and now that’s what I want to do,” freshman Dalton Fisher said.

Fisher has a summer job at Zoka’s Bar and Grill and works there Wednesday through Saturday in the warmer months after school gets out. His longer shifts lasted eight hours, while his shorter shifts only spanned around four. Working there made him think about his future in the culinary industry. 

“It was not difficult to get a job. After one of my games, my parents just took me over and asked if they would hire me at 14, and then I started working,” junior Isabella Gardiner said.

Sonic is another establishment that offers jobs to young teens. Sonic is very close and accessible to students. “I really don’t have to drive far, it’s really close. I can also see some of my friends while I’m working. It’s great,” junior Isabella Gardiner said. (Sullivan Ramirez)

Gardiner has been working at Sonic for a little over two years. She chose to work there because of the convenient proximity to her house, and because of the young hiring age, which allowed her to start working at 14. She trains new managers and works in customer service. Her shifts usually last five to six hours, and the days she works vary so that she can schedule work around school and sports, so she generally works on Saturdays and off days. She shared that it helped her learn about customer service and balancing activities. 

“It wasn’t the most entertaining job, but it gave me a sense of what it’s like to work with people outside of school, and it taught me to be able to cooperate with co-workers.” Freshman Mason Hogzett said.

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