Students’ Insight on the Best Jobs in Columbia


Sophomore Joey Facchiano (center) says one of the best places to work are the Columbia Association Pools. (Photo courtesy of Joey Facchiano)

As teenagers near the age where they need to be at least somewhat financially independent, many start working in high school. But some are at a loss for where to work for their first job. We asked three teens who work for their advice about where to start. 

One of the most popular jobs is lifeguarding. The minimum age is 15-years-old, at which point people can take a lifeguard certification class.

2022 Wilde Lake graduate Kirby worked as a lifeguard during their freshman and sophomore year at American Pools. “The lifeguard job wasn’t my favorite,” they said. “It wasn’t horrible, but the company wasn’t very professional. The scheduling was weird, I didn’t get great pay, and it was under minimum wage.” 

Kirby said their day-to-day tasks were mostly watching the patrons and cleaning the pool. 

Sophomore Joey Facchiano works at Columbia Association as a lifeguard. He says the appeal to it comes from the calm atmosphere. “I get to hang out with my friends. I get to work with people on a regular basis. I get to talk to people,” he said. “It’s a good time. I would recommend this job as a starting job for younger workers, just to get your feet in the water.”

And though the work environment is more laid-back, the job itself is no walk in the park. “I’m required to know the proper techniques on saves, CPR, breath ratios, breath to compression ratios, and how to use the proper equipment to save someone in case of an emergency,” said Joey. “Other than that, I need to know how to operate the computer system and get along with people.”

Another common workplace for teens is the mall, a convenient location relative to Wilde Lake. 

According to junior Colin Choi, some places will offer a high hourly rate but do not provide many hours. 

Colin says that Chick-Fil-A was a wonderful place to work when he was employed there as a sophomore. “I definitely recommend Chick-Fil-A because everywhere else I’ve worked didn’t have that good work environment or good management.” 

Colin currently works at Jang’s TaeKwonDo in Ellicott City. He grew up around the business and was like family to them, so he said getting the job was practically destiny.

“You have to have a set requirement in the field. Like, you can’t be a white belt teaching,” Colin explains. He has to teach three classes a day with 20 kids a class and perform administrative work, including scheduling, filing, and parent payments. 

Older students who have had some work experience come more mature and high-pressure jobs. Kirby currently works as a barista at the Starbucks next to the school. “The management at Starbucks is great, everything is pretty organized, and the environment is good,” they said. “The customers aren’t as horrible as people think they are.” 

Kirby points out that the continuous waves of customers mean employees have to be on the go a lot. “It’s a bit hectic and a bit busy, but it’s overall fun, and we have fun together,” they said. “We make it like an all going crazy together type of situation.” 

Kirby is required to make drinks, clean the store, do dishes, help with customer support — take payments and interact with people, and make home-brewed teas and cold brews.

There are plenty of jobs available in Columbia, some of which are suited for new workers and others more equipped for experienced workers. Take advantage of your free time during the summer and get a job. You will make money and friends and learn lifelong skills.