Working 9-5 Their Own Way: High Schoolers and Their Unique Jobs

Most teenagers work typical high school jobs such as hosting, lifeguarding, or cashiering, regularly clocking in for scheduled shifts. Some high schoolers, however, are working on an entirely different path, fostering their creativity and autonomy in the process, through jobs such as influencers or business owners.

Centennial High School sophomore Akshitha Bandam is one of those teenagers who decided to create her own means of earning money in high school. She created her baking business, Ducky’s Desserts, in June 2021. Bandam creates custom cakes and cupcakes, usually for events such as birthday parties. Her process for making the cakes is careful and meticulous. First, a customer direct messages Bandam through Instagram, and she checks her availability. Usually, she does two to three cakes a week, but has temporarily suspended her business to focus on school and lacrosse. After confirming the availability, the customer will let her know their vision. “They’ll send me inspiration photos of what they would want…and I’ll make some tweaks and edits…I usually take multiple images and then I’ll mix them together to see how I want it and what materials I have.” Once the idea is complete, the baking begins. While it might seem like a simple enough task, the baking process for each order takes three days. “The first day, I’ll make the cakes, and then I’ll pop them in the freezer…the second day, I’ll [make] the frosting. [The third day] I’ll take the cakes out of the freezer and I’ll start frosting [the cakes].” From there, the cake is picked up by the customer. This is when Bandam’s favorite part of the entire process occurs. “When you give someone the cake and they’re like, ‘oh my God!’…I just love that. It makes me feel good…because I did a good job.” The reward does not come without hard work, though. Bandam says that people “one hundred percent” try to take advantage of the fact that she is a teenage business owner. “There will always be those certain people that act like [the price is] too much…[they would] act a different way if it was actually a bakery.” Another challenge that Bandam has had to face is learning to budget, which can be hard for a baking business. “If you want…strawberries, bananas, blueberries, and blackberries [on your cake], I can’t buy…five strawberries, five blueberries, I have to buy the entire pack. Even though they’re not using the entire pack, it costs [me] the entire pack.” The frustration has taught her to have continual patience. “Most of the time, things don’t go your way, so you always have to…learn to work with what you have,” she said.

Howard High School junior Anna Mueller also has two especially unique jobs; she is both a business owner, selling energy ball snacks, and an influencer on social media who has been sponsored by multiple brands. In terms of social media, “I essentially just post food and fitness content…I’ll take pictures of literally everything I cook and eat…sometimes I also will develop recipes and put that in a caption,” she stated. Mueller has been a Crossfit athlete for about four years in addition to running track for Howard. When her friends convinced her to start a food and fitness Instagram, she never thought that she would gain a platform where brands such as RxBar, Baleaf Sports, and most recently, Halara, the viral athleisure brand, would reach out to her. Mueller said that the opportunity is “really exciting for me because I actually really like their clothes.” Being a part of the brand has been a gratifying experience for Mueller. “I think the coolest thing was seeing a code with my name in it…and having email exchanges with actual people at the company.” The collaboration process with the brand, she acknowledged, is not at all pomp and circumstance, especially since most of the time, the brands initiate the conversations. As for actually posting, “it can be really casual,” said Mueller. “Just pictures of [me] in the clothes, or [I] can make more formal TikToks, and sometimes I’ll spend time shooting and making sure it looks good and go somewhere to take photos.” One thing that sets Mueller apart from many other fitness influencers is that she strives to keep her page unedited in hopes that she can help others with confidence and body image issues. “There’s way too much emphasis placed on what females look like rather than just feeling good and…fueling for your sport, which I think should be the priority, and my page is focused on fueling yourself and enjoying your food and then having fun with fitness.” As for her energy balls, Mueller took inspiration from Crossfit meal prep companies and decided to sell one of her personal favorite snacks. Just as Bandam has, she’s learned a lot about business through the experience, such as buying ingredients in bulk or making one big batch of energy balls. When thinking of the future though, Mueller just wants to keep having fun and being creative. “I see myself always kind of having these pages and just going with the flow…because it is just something that I do for fun,” she stated. “And if it’s ever not fun, I’d probably stop.”

Bandam and Mueller’s unconventional jobs have opened both of their eyes to the idea that there is a world outside of a nine-to-five desk job, which is what can make an entrepreneurial career so appealing. “There’s commitment,” Bandam concluded, “but you get to choose how you want to follow through with it.”


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