Part-time jobs and athletics provide differing lessons for after high school

While the academic courses at BG do a great deal to prepare students for their lives after high school, many students take it upon themselves to go the extra mile; some enroll in athletics, while others pick up part-time jobs. These activities put students in positions to pick up valuable life experiences they can apply to the world after they graduate, but the skills the two activities provide differ greatly.


“One of the biggest things is learning how to be a part of a team,” head football coach Jeff Vlk said. “Whether you’re in the business world or you’re a teacher, etc., you’re always going to be working in teams.”


Although athletics don’t often develop direct workplace skills, like transactional exchanges, they force you to engage in other positive learning experiences. Senior Jack Sanford states this is a key attribute between his experiences as a football player and at his part-time job at Woodman’s Food Market.

“I learned [from football] that if I wanted to get better at something, something that I’m uncomfortable with, that I have to stick myself out there,” Sanford said. “I feel like that’s something I’ll definitely be able to apply to my future career [as a graphic designer], as I’ll be faced with some things that I most likely won’t like to do.”


The idea of a group of individuals working for goals that aren’t the most attractive in the name of a bigger cause is one that reverberates around many of the programs at BG, whether it be the basketball program’s encouragement for drawing offensive fouls, or baseball’s “Respect 90” mantra, requiring players to run out the full length of the base path after every time the ball is put in play.

“That’s where selflessness comes in. We’re always going to have to do things that we don’t want to do,” Vlk said. “But sometimes, we’ve got to put our egos aside and know that we’re doing something for the good of the team, or for other people.”

This selflessness ideal is not necessarily lost in work experiences, but is presented in different ways. Sanford cites the relationships he’s developed at Woodman’s as being a key component in being able to get through his often lengthy shifts, teaching him more patience than athletics had.

“When you’re working a nine-hour shift,” Sanford said, “You learn a lot about patience. It helps being with a lot of guys that you enjoy being with, though.”

It’s important to make the distinction that not all sports and part-time jobs for students are created equal. The time commitment of varsity football is not the same as that of JV. Similarly, Woodman’s Market offers many of its high school hires shifts only on weekends, while many members of the Portillo’s staff from BG work multiple times during the school week. Depending on how much is put into the extracurricular, a differing level of benefits will arise.

While sports enforce more abstract values that can be adjusted to apply at the next level, part time jobs begin to build the exact skills themselves. Senior Sloan Kipley works at Portillo’s, but is also a member of the basketball team. He cites Portillo’s as an instructor of many lessons that he intends to apply with his career.


“I’ve learned many customer service skills, like dealing with difficult customers,” Kipley said. “In the future, I plan on doing something with business, and working at Portillo’s has taught me to understand different perspectives, something I’ll definitely apply in whatever I do in that field.”


To compare the two in the level of readiness they provide for students after their schooling concludes is a difficult task, considering they come in all different shapes and sizes. But Sanford seems to have a clear vision as to what will be more valuable to him in the long run.


“Football taught me so many life lessons and has given me so many relationships,” Sanford said. “I think it will definitely be a more beneficial experience in the long run.”


They differ greatly, and by and large there are many valuable lessons to be learned from both varsity sports and part-time jobs. Like Kipley and Sanford have shown, there are many rewards to be drawn from both areas. 


“Basketball taught me a lot about being a part of a team and doing whatever you can to help the team,” Kipley said, “But in the long run, I feel like working at Portillo’s will end up being more beneficial for me.”