WHEN the school bell tolled recently for the final time of the year, ushering in the long year-end break, thousands of students all over the country feel like Atlas having the big globe removed from his back.
They certainly feel relieved that they can now put down their heavy schoolbags, sleep a bit longer, spend more time in front of the TV set or computer, lepak at the shopping complex, and do what they like without the pressure of rushing to complete homework and assignments.
Traditionally, this is what a typical teenage student does during the long school break - having complete rest and recreation, watching all the favourite Astro movies, playing the latest computer games till late at night, hanging out at shopping malls all day long, and, for the more fortunate, a holiday back to the ancestral hometown to be spoilt crazy by grandma or even a trip overseas.
In recent years, however, while some of the secondary school students would be enjoying the holidays in the traditional way, there are many others who are spending their time earning some extra money for their tertiary studies, or at least to gain some working experience.
Goh Karman and Vasu Ganeisan, for example, are busy working at Petaling Jaya's 1 Utama GSC box office counter and concession stand.
“My main reason for working is to occupy my time. I also want to earn some pocket money to buy things I like, such as clothes and accessories,” said Goh, 15, a Form 3 student at SMK Taman SEA.
Goh had worked at the 1 Utama GSC concession stand last year, and switched to the box office counter this year.
“This job is never boring because we get to interact with people and talk to customers. I've learnt to be tolerant with various people, from supervisors to colleagues to customers, and being polite to them,” she said.
“These are lessons that would prepare me for the real working world. My parents are supportive of me working because they want me to overcome my shyness and to learn to talk to more people,” Goh said.
She plans to work as a promoter or sales assistant during next year's school holidays to experience a different working environment.
Vasu, meanwhile, said his motivation for working during the school holidays was to earn some money to pay for his school fees and textbooks for the next school term. He is also saving up for a mountain bike.
“I like working at the cinema because I get to meet many customers when I'm working at the concession stand,” said Vasu, 16, who had a similar job at Cineleisure Damansara last year.
Another reason is the perk he gets to enjoy at GSC - two complimentary tickets for one movie every week.
“I enjoy the working environment here, and it's more fun having a fellow school friend working with me. My job at the concession stand involves serving the customers and selling popcorn, drinks and snacks,” he said.
The Form 4 student of SMK Section 10 Kota Damansara plans to continue working at the 1 Utama GSC during the weekends next year for extra pocket money.
Over at the MPH bookshop in 1 Utama, Zackry Mohd Fazillah is busy going about his tasks like arranging books, assisting customers to find books and gift-wrapping for them.
“I had some friends working at the GSC last year. I saw them earning money, so I wanted to earn my own money too. If I'm not working now, I'd probably be wasting time and money at the cybercafe or at home, playing computer and videogames,” he said.
“My sister initially recommended that I work at the MPH Book Cafe because she had worked at the MPH Book Cafe in Bangunan Siti Hasmah last year. There wasn't any opening for a job at the cafe, so I applied to work at the bookstore instead,” Zackry said.
The 16-year-old Form 4 student of Victoria Institution KL works full time at the MPH on a temporary basis, and enjoys benefits like getting staff discount for books, CDs, stationery and meals at the MPH Book Cafe.
“I'm planning to spend some of the money I earn on games and clothes. The rest will be invested in a savings account,” he said.
“The most important lesson I learnt at my first job is time management and being punctual for work,” said Zackry, who enjoys sleeping in if he doesn't have to go to school.
Khairul Akman, 16, chose to work at McDonald's Bandar Utama because it is near his home and he likes the working environment.
“I've got a few schoolmates working here too. I invited them to join me, because they also want to work to earn money and support their family,” Khairul said.
The Form 4 student of SMK TTDI said the money he earned would go towards paying his school and tuition fees, and for the monthly instalments for his new motorbike.
“I may continue working on weekends next year to pay off my instalments,” Khairul said.
“I have learnt about being disciplined, greeting customers properly and providing good service to them. I was scolded by a few customers during my first week at McDonald's because I was a little slow, but I'll take it as a lesson learnt and improve myself,” he said.
Vesakha Tan may just be 16 but she is already earning her money. This school break she is working as an assistant at a boutique in 1 Utama Shopping Centre.
During the previous holidays, Tan had worked at her mother's office, “just for the fun of it”.
But this time, her work has a definite mission objective - she is saving to buy her dream mobile phone - a Sony Ericsson W960.
“It's not out yet but it will probably be launched by the end of December. I have always liked touch screen phones. It is priced between RM2,000 and RM3,000 and am getting close to saving that much,” Tan said.
She said that although she preferred to work at anime toy shops, working at a boutique was a different experience altogether.
Lim Su Yin, 19, is temping after completing her A level studies at the Help University. She is working with market research firm Frost and Sullivan to earn some extra money while contemplating on plans for her future.
“I am thinking of studying medicine but I have not decided yet. Meanwhile, I am just working here to make some extra pocket money,” she said when met at her office.
Lim is attached with the company's healthcare department. Her work revolves around conducting phone surveys with survey samples in Australia.
“It is a challenging job as sometimes, people may turn you down for a survey. But the money is good and at the same time it is also a great working experience for me because although temping, we are treated like actual employees and that's very important to build us,” said Lim, who is from Subang Jaya.
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