It's official, teenagers who spend their Saturdays working menial jobs rather than studying for exams end up having more successful careers and earning more money than their swotish or some may say workshy peers, according to a review of 100 studies commissioned by the Education Endowment Foundation.

Meanwhile the government's labour force survey has showed that the proportion of young people aged between 16-17 in part-time work has halved from 42 per cent to 18 per cent in the past two decades with the main reason cited as wanting to focus on school work. However, these ELLE editors worked throughout their teenage years, and look at them now! 


Lena De Casparis, Barista turned Culture Director

Just like Brooklyn Beckham child I had a Saturday job at a coffee shop from the age of 15. My role at 'Madhatters Cafe' in Abergavenny involved standing behind a little counter (in a sartorially unpleasing maroon apron), taking orders and payments, and then delivering lattes and custard slices to the friendly cliental. On good days I'd be put in charge of the coffee machine and would enjoy grinding beans and foaming milk until someone ordered a layered macchiato, I'd mess it up, and be sent to clear a table. Other perks of the role included endless refills of hot chocolate, and a constant supply of carrot cake. Customers were kind, understanding of the saucer filled tea I'd serve, and I enjoyed asking them about their weekends – questioning skills that inevitably came in handy as a journalist years later. Of course, the only real joy of the job came from the hard cold cash - £40 (give or take a few tips) paid on the day, to be spent on some Lycra mini dress or a slogan tee - a habit that certainly hasn't changed.


Lotte Jeffs, Hair Salon Junior turned Deputy Editor

I worked in a posh hair salon on London's King's Road called Smile. This was ironic, because I spent most of the time scowling (I've got a bitchy resting face, it's not my fault!) Every time the receptionist saw me she would push the corners of her mouth up into a forced grin to remind me to make an effort to look less miserable. I was terrible at washing hair as I have a very short attention span and would lose interest somewhere in between shampoo and conditioner and end up splashing water over people's faces, or scalding their heads. I ran around for rich old ladies putting pound coins in the parking meter or waking their yappy little dogs. I got paid £15 per day plus tips, which it won't surprise you to learn, were not particularly forthcoming. 

Hannah Swerling, Pharmacist Assistant turned Content Director

While I was at school, I occasionally worked on Saturdays in the dispensary in my Dad's pharmacy in North Manchester's gritty Bury. I would stand for hours processing prescriptions and making up tablet cassettes for the local nursing home – blue tablet for Tuesday morning, prink tablet for Tuesday afternoon, etc. I was rubbish at science at school and had no desire to go into medicine but the fear that I would mess something up motivated me to be extremely conscientious about my work. As well as getting paid, not killing anyone was a great reward. My job as ELLE's content director isn't life or death but my uncompromising perfectionism was definitely honed in that chemist shop.

Elizabeth Cooney, Shop Assistant turned Art Editor

When I was 17 I worked in Laura Ashley in the interiors department. I can't remember what I got paid but I absolutely LOVED it. Sitting with customers for hours to pick out a sofa to match their made-to-measure curtains was somehow one of my favourite jobs. Most shifts I was suffering with a serious hangover, but there was one Saturday in particular I can remember. I had gone out in London the night before and got on the 6am train back to Eastbourne so I went straight to my shift. My manager was very sympathetic so put me to bed at lunchtime on the break room sofa and then ploughed me with biscuits and tea all afternoon. She was the best.


Rachael Evans, Potato-picker turned Bookings Editor

My sister and I used to have to walk across the fields in Suffolk to the farmer's house and then get in the back of his pickup truck to drive to the bit of the land where the potatoes were. We would all get latex gloves to wear and have to scramble around in the mud to root out the potatoes. I cried everyday because I hated it. The farmer paid us £4 per crate of potatoes. I'd spend the cash on a couple of Magnum ice creams. 

Andrew Barlow, Disney Store Guy turned Art Director

I worked as a sales assistant at the Disney Store in the Trafford Centre. Although I never made use of the free theme park tickets, and working boxing day was hell-on-earth… highlights included spending an entire 8 hour shift driving a remote control car, and whiling away the Christmas delivery night shift with the Toy Story trilogy and an endless supply of superficially damaged Mickey Mouse shaped confectionary. Halcyon days.

Kenya Hunt, Shop Girl turned Fashion Features Director

I had one during my summer break before college. I was a shopfloor girl at a clothing store called Express, which is very much still around in shopping malls all over North America (think America's answer to River Island). That meant I spent most of my days folding up pairs of jeans and peasant tops only to watch customers come along and undo my painstakenly assembled piles minutes after I'd neatened them up. YAWN. 

Imogen Van Zaane, DIY expert turned Workflow Director

My Saturday job was as a shelf-stocker at DIY store – quite like B&Q in a very mundane village in the Netherlands. I can't even remember what I got paid (in guilders), but it was minimum wage and I know I bought a sofa bed, fake Christmas tree, dinner plates and a TV all in preparation for my planned escape to art school on the other side of the country 1 or 2 years later. I basically really wanted to leave my village. Looking back I am not surprised that I liked it there as I mostly advised on paint colours, organised all the screws (yes I am serious) and acquired a vast amount of knowledge on diy and power tools. All while trying desperately to keep up with all the gossip around some tumultuous shop flings.

Daisy Murray, Dance Teacher turned Features Intern

When I was around 15 I took over my sister's position as a dance teacher's assistant. Little did I know the actual teacher rarely showed up so I was paid £5 to teach a class of 30+ 11yr olds every Sat for the next couple of years. I started off terrified the teacher would come in and scrutinize my teaching but a few months in I got more confident and just strolled in a little hungover and let these little girls plait my hair and ask me about boys all lesson long. At some point the parents caught wind so I had to teach them something. What I ended up teaching them to perform for the final show was the least age appropriate dance I think pre-pubescent girls have ever done. I sometimes bump into the girls I taught when I go home and they still remember my raunchy moves.

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