What It Feels Like to Work for the School You Go To

///As told by Emma McDowell


Emma McDowell working on a student’s Chromebook

While I had dreamt of working on computers as a career, I had no idea that the opportunity would come from my place of education. Early last year, Lee Griebel, principal of ADM High School, asked Jordan Thompson for some suggestions of students that worked well with technology and would want a job. Thompson suggested me, and just like a normal job, I filled out an application and sat in for an interview. After a couple of weeks, I was offered a job in the technology department of the ADM school district. I took it, hopeful for the future and ready to learn.

My official job title is ADM’s IT apprentice and my roles include a variety of things. I help fix software problems on students’ Chromebooks, solve problems with teachers’ MacBooks, change lights in projectors and just help out with all technology in the school district. And while it is a great way to make some extra cash, if I work 2,000 hours before my graduation, I also will earn an IT apprenticeship.

I have been working since the summer before the 2022-2023 school year and I have learned an incredible amount of things. A lot of people don’t get to see what actually goes on when you are on the “inside” of a school district. I had no clue there was so much organization that went into a school district until I accepted this position. My job requires a lot of collaboration with other teachers, and I feel like that is a key difference between my job and other teenagers’ jobs. Since there is a ton of staff members in the district, there is an incredible amount of teamwork involved between the teachers and me, but also between me and my coworkers.

Another big difference from my job is that I am a teenager working with only adults. I am the only teenager, not only in my department, but also generally working for the school. While some people may think that would be awkward, it doesn’t seem that way to me. Through this job I have created some stronger connections with teachers because they know me better and I have become quite close with my coworkers. Our department includes Sebastian Seifert, Adam Crannell, Troy Hofmockel, Kendra Wolf and me. We all have a very similar type of humor and there is a lot of joking around between us. Just like in a normal job, I work under people, but I am not treated any differently because of my age. Because I am a student as well, I know how to respect the people in charge of me, and they are very good about instructing me, as well as listening to my suggestions. The teenage aspect of my job doesn’t really affect me too much, unless people don’t realize that I am an employee here which can make it a little bit more difficult to access rooms.

For a normal teenage job, you work after school or on the weekends, but that is the exact opposite for me. I work strictly during school hours, so I do my tasks either during my open class periods or during teacher meetings on Fridays. This means that for this job, I not only had to take multiple DMACC classes, but I also had to include quite a few opens in my schedule so I could get work done. Although it hasn’t created too many problems, this means that I have to do all of my homework after school hours, unlike other students. While it isn’t a huge issue, the fact that I cannot work outside of school is one of the key differences in my job, as well as the biggest con.

Overall, if I was asked again, I would absolutely take this job and would suggest it to other students as well. My experience working for the school has been extremely positive. It has prepared me greatly for my future by teaching me many technical skills, I have gotten experience in the workforce and if I earn the apprenticeship, it will look great on my resume. And while that is all very important, my overall favorite part of my job is the relationships I have built. The fun team atmosphere in my department is everything I could have ever hoped for in a job.