“In Order to Work, I Had to Quit Football”: Q&A with Senior Jackson Swain


Courtesy of Jackson Swain

Senior Jackson Swain (left) works two jobs to save up for college, but he still finds time for friends, like senior Miles Hatch (right), when he can.

Jackson Swain is a senior at Newport Harbor who works two jobs in order to save up for college. He was on the football team for three years as a defensive lineman, but he decided not to play this year due to complications with the pandemic and to free his schedule for work. Swain plans to attend Boise State University to study construction management this fall. He spoke with the Beacon‘s Billie Butler about the tough decisions he’s made to help turn his dreams of attending college at BSU a reality.

BB: What does a typical day look like for you?

JS: I typically wake up at around 7 am on weekdays, in order to get ready for my online classes. Then I do schoolwork until around 1 pm. I help my younger siblings with their homework if they need it. After that, I try and get a workout in with my friends. We like to lift weights, go for runs and play basketball. After working out, I shower and head off to work for my shift, which is usually around five hours. I work year-round at Trader Joe’s and at a Christmas tree lot during the holiday season. Once I’m off work, I head home to finish homework and help look after my younger siblings.

BB: What is it like to work multiple jobs as a teenager? 

JS: It’s definitely difficult. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t have to. Working multiple jobs requires a lot of organization and focus. I have to plan out my schedule further in advance than most other teenagers because I need to make sure I am managing my time well to keep a high GPA and perform well at work. I also don’t get the same amount of free time as other students, obviously, because I work so much. But if you are dedicated and enjoy your job like I do, it’s not as bad as it seems.

BB: What have you had to sacrifice? Do you feel like your sacrifices are worth it?

JS: In order to work, I had to quit football, which was a really hard decision. Football has been a very important part of my life, so having to leave my team was tough. I also have to miss hanging out with my friends sometimes because I have to work or because I am tired from shifts, which is always difficult because I don’t want to miss out on fun things. In the end, the sacrifices are worth it, because working has helped me become more self-reliant and organized, because I am responsible for my own schedule and I have a team that relies on me [at work].

BB: Why is working important to you?

JS: Working is important because it has made me a better person.  I feel more self-reliant, and I am able to support myself. It’s also made me stronger, because I’ve had to make tough decisions to prioritize what’s important to me, like when I had to choose between work and football. I chose work because it will help me and my family pay for my college expenses.

BB: What advice would you give other students who are entering the workforce?

JS: Try and make sure that your workplace is safe and will be flexible when it comes to school stuff, like if you need to take certain times off for ROP classes or just to catch up on homework and class assignments. A lot of managers are not understanding when it comes to flexibility with school, so if you can work somewhere that is understanding of your responsibilities as a student and as an employee, that is ideal. I also would recommend working somewhere that you enjoy or are passionate about. I enjoy my work at Trader Joe’s because my coworkers are incredibly friendly and great to work with, making my job fun. At the Christmas tree lot, I have also made work friends that have made my jobs a great experience. If you don’t enjoy where you work, your shifts will feel unbearable.