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Summer salaries: 3 Archer students work their first jobs over the summer

Sophia Bratman (’24), Anaiya Asomugha (’24), Ella Gray (’24) and alumni Ava Cherniss (’23) wave colorful flags in the courtyard. They were all counselors for Archer Summer, a paid position where they oversaw group activities with kids and organized camp life. Photo by Makenzie Hilton.

You don’t have to wait until you’re a legal adult to make money, according to Archer’s upper school students. From managing front desks to scooping ice cream in the afternoon heat, students worked all over Los Angeles during summer break. 

The United States legal working age is 14 years old, according to the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), which the U.S. Department of Labor follows. However, minors must have a school-issued work permit, and minors under the age of 16 have limited weekly hours. 

Assistant to the Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning Mindy Stone issued 12 work permits last year to Archer upper schoolers, the majority in 10th and 11th grade. Students under the age of 12 are not eligible for work permits. Many upper schoolers worked their first jobs this summer across Los Angeles.

Josie White (’26): Office Worker at Santa Monica Trapeze School

Instructors manage the trapeze at Santa Monica Trapeze School, where Josie White (’26) works. She said her job as an office worker has given her valuable financial and management experience, which she will use when interviewing for jobs in the future. Photo by Josie White.

Inspired by sophomore Josie White’s passion for aerial arts and three-year commitment to her studio, the owner of an aerial and silks business on the Santa Monica Pier called Santa Monica Trapeze School offered her a front office job. White received a work permit from Stone and went on to schedule clients for classes, process payments, help people sign waivers and answer company phone calls. She is continuing to work limited shifts during the school year.

“This is the first time I’ve ever had a true job; I’ve never even babysat before, so it was definitely an interesting experience,” White said. “It really helped me feel more confident for going through the job interview process in the future.” 

Federal law limits White, who is 15 years old, to three four-hour shifts per week. Her salary is $15.50 an hour, the minimum wage in California, which she said helped her empathize with American adults who live on this base-level salary. 

“I was paid minimum wage, and thinking about using that to live your life is completely insane,” White said. “It’s a very livable salary for a minor who already has a house, but having to pay rent with that kind of salary is unlivable.” 

Annie Altemus (’25): Employee at Trader Joe’s

Cashiers scan and bag items for customers at Trader Joe’s. Annie Altemus (’25) has been working there since July, taking shifts as long as 8 hours to stock goods and organize shopping carts. Photo by Gabriella Specchierla.

Junior Annie Altemus started her first job at American grocery store and cultural phenomenon Trader Joe’s in July. She works at the Olympic Boulevard location for eight-hour shifts on the weekends. Since the school year started, she often works afternoon shifts during the week, which she said comes with the responsibility of figuring out her commute.

“During the daytime, I can take the metro or the public bus. During the nighttime, I need to get picked up, because it’s not safe for a woman at night,” Altemus said. “However, I’m getting my driver’s license soon.”

Trader Joe’s has a First Job program for minors, meaning Altemus is restricted from working the register — which involves selling alcohol — and using hazardous tools such as box cutters and machinery. During her shifts, she switches tasks every hour, including bagging or organizing chips. 

On regular work days, Altemus makes $17 an hour, but on Sundays and holidays, her salary is raised to $27 an hour. The flow of income is a new experience for her, which comes with new responsibilities. 

“All of the money I make goes into my savings account,” Altemus said. “I try to limit how much I spend, but I definitely have to work on it. It’s hard to know if I’m managing it responsibly, but I do think I’m doing a good job by saving most of it.”

Anaiya Asomugha (’24): Counselor at Archer Summer

Anaiya Asomugha (’24) plays with students in the courtyard during Archer Summer. She was a paid counselor for three weeks, leading activities for both elementary and middle schoolers. Photo by Ava Cherniss.

Staying involved with Archer student life, Student Body President Anaiya Asomugha (’24) was a counselor for Archer Summer, Archer’s summer enrichment camp, for three weeks. She oversaw children in grades four through eight, helping with tasks from organizing group games to creating life-sized mini golf courses out of cardboard.

“I had been a CIT for the past two years at Archer Summer, and I’d watched the Class of 2023, 2022 and 2021 be really amazing counselors,” Asomugha said. “I had always wanted to take on that bigger role.”

Depending on the age group Asomugha was leading, she had different responsibilities in each workshop. During theatre classes with elementary schoolers, she said she exercised her improv skills alongside the students. Whereas in middle school art classes, she said the students were more independent, so she could take a step back. 

“I would recommend being a counselor and CIT to anyone,” Asomugha said. “It’s really cool to see students in an environment where it’s not education-based, but more fun. It’s super cute to be with the little kids and see how quick and creative they are. Keeping up with their minds is a challenging task, but overall, I loved it.”

Aside from previous voice acting, this was also Asomugha’s first paying job. She worked from 8 a.m. – 4 p.m. at Archer, making $17 per hour. She said doing work-related tasks, including logging her own hours, was a new experience that came with having a job.

“I felt so grown up and professional. Using the same app that Archer teachers use to get paid was crazy,” Asomugha said. “Working has felt so foreign to me for so long, and it felt like making money meant you’re an adult, but now I’m doing it, and I’m only 17.”

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About the Contributor
Lucy Williams
Lucy Williams, Voices Editor
Lucy Williams joined the Oracle as a staff reporter in 2021 and became the Voices Editor in 2023. Outside of journalism, she runs a Los Angeles food blog on Tiktok and Instagram under the epithet "Little Savvy." She also serves on the Hermanas Unidas club board and the DemocraShe Leadership Team and is passionate about reading and sociology.

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As part of Archer’s active and engaged community, the Editorial Board welcomes reader comments and debate and encourages community members to take ownership of their opinions by using their names when commenting. However, in order to ensure a diverse range of opinions, the editorial board does allow anonymous comments on articles as long as the perspective cannot be obtained elsewhere, and they are respectful and relevant. We do require a valid, verified email address, which will not be displayed, but will be used to confirm your comments. Because we are a 6-12 school, the Editorial Board reserves the right to omit profanity and content that we deem inappropriate for our audience. We do not publish comments that serve primarily as an advertisement or to promote a specific product. Comments are moderated and may be edited in accordance with the Oracle’s profanity policy, but the Editorial Board will not change the intent or message of comments. They will appear once approved.
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  • M

    Ms. GeffenSep 27, 2023 at 9:41 am

    Nice job Lucy! It was really interesting to read about hear about these very different job experiences and to think more about students’ lives outside of school. Thanks for sharing with the community. =)