A balancing act: students juggle school, jobs, and paying the bills

April 23, 2009 by Dustin Edwards Round Up

NMSU student workaholics share their confessions

The sour economy has not stopped all college students in the workforce, as some are working harder than ever to ride out the national financial plight.
Money and forms (Media Credit: Dustin Edwards)
Although New Mexico suffered a greater increase in unemployment in March compared to February, the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site indicates the Land of Enchantment has not slashed as many jobs as other states, a statistic that many working students are taking to the bank. And the food service industry, a mainstay for college students, is among the largest occupational groups, according to the site.

“I feel like, ‘I’m young, I better work now,'” said Debbie Fuentes, 20, a sophomore marketing student attending Doña Ana Community College. “I’m scared that in the future I won’t have money for my studies.”

Fuentes, who holds two jobs, one at Starbucks Coffee and the other as a work-study at the branch, said she is attending the DACC to save-up money for main campus, where she plans on attending when she graduates with her pre-business associate’s degree this summer.

“On Saturday, I worked from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and then I worked from 6 p.m. to midnight,” Fuentes said. “I did that last week twice. It was crazy.”

A Crimson Scholar, Fuentes, who is taking 15 credit hours, said she is scheduled for 19 hours at Starbucks, 15 hours at the branch and she often picks-up about 17 hours at an El Paso Starbucks store.

“Sometimes I pull all-nighters,” Fuentes said. “I make up for it, though. On my days off, I’ll sleep all day.”

Fuentes said she works double shifts frequently, as she often will open at 4:30 a.m. for Starbucks and then work in the afternoon at the branch.

“I try to balance everything out,” Fuentes said. “Sometimes work does take over, as far as priorities.”

The ailing economy plays a role in her decision to work two jobs with long hours, she said.

She’s not alone.

The percentage of people who hold multiple jobs increased slightly in the past year, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics Web site.

Ernest Venegas, 21, a junior business student, said he works more than 30 hours a week as a server at Applebee’s Neighborhood Bar and Grill.

“I’m always tired when I go to school because I work late,” Venegas said. “I do a lot of my homework after work at one or two in the morning.”

Venegas, who is taking 13 credit hours, said he works eight-hour shifts. Although Venegas said he has time to do other things, sometimes his school load suffers because of work.

“I have to rush things, so I don’t do it as well as I should,” Venegas said.

While Venegas said he does not believe the economy has played a part in his busy work schedule, he said he has to work to pay for bills and school.

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