HomeNewsCarmel High students thrive within tourist economy

Carmel High students thrive within tourist economy

Published April 5, 2023


From sophomore Scarlett Wennerholm, who works at Toasted, a locally owned and operated restaurant in Mid-Valley, to senior Maya Yamada, who is employed at Laub’s Country Store, a shop full of Carmel merchandise like hoodies, magnets, stickers and more, there are many benefits students can get from working with people from different parts of the world. 

Jason Baker works in Carmel Valley at Corkscrew Cafe and has experienced many benefits from working with visitors. (photo by NICOLE MIRSKI)

“There was a time when a group of people from Japan came in, but they didn’t know any English so they were having a difficult time in the store,” says Yamada. “I overheard them speaking Japanese, so I went over and spoke to them in Japanese so that I could help them out. They were very grateful that I was there to help them navigate through town.”

About 30% of high school students in the U.S. have jobs, mostly in the food service industry, but due to the nature of Carmel and its surrounding areas, many CHS students find themselves in jobs whose nature causes them to interact a lot with tourists and visitors. According to See Monterey, Monterey County experiences over 4.5 million visitors each year with the majority of the income coming from hospitality industries and stores targeted at tourism.

Juniors Max Dinsmore and Jason Baker, who both work at Corkscrew Cafe, a rustic cafe with garden patios located in Carmel Valley, both agree that they’ve seen an increase in their conversational and social skills while also feeling like they have made an impact on other people.  

“Working in places where you experience all different kinds of people and personalities really helps to build your sociability and presentation,” Dinsmore says. “I would recommend anyone to work in tourist-friendly areas as it is truly a great way to learn life lessons and experiences.”

Max Dinsmore also works at Corkscrew Cafe and has seen a big increase in his conversational abilities while working with tourists. (photo by NICOLE MIRSKI)

Pilgrim’s Way Bookstore, located near the Secret Garden in downtown Carmel, is a tourist destination for anyone who wants a book for the beach, hotel or even for the road with the most common books sold to tourists being by local authors. Junior Brianna Thompson was employed at Pilgrim’s Way from August to November and expresses that she experienced a lot of different perspectives.

“Working at a store that brings in people of many different backgrounds was a positive learning experience and was beneficial in the long journey of maturity,” explains Thompson.

Freshman Angeleen Duenas Paz has a job at Ripplewood Resort in Big Sur which offers a cafe, a grocery store and cabins with views of the Big Sur River. The grocery store sells regular groceries, camping gear and food and treats that are necessary for camping, which is a big tourist attraction in Big Sur. Her job is to be a cafe busser and a store clerk and also shares an experience where she feels like she made an impact.

Angeleen Duenas Paz works at the Ripplewood Resort and interacts with tourists visiting Big Sur. (photo by NICOLE MIRSKI)

“I once had to communicate with a person who was hard of hearing while not knowing a lot of sign language, but I think we both had made a big effort in trying to communicate with one another,” says Duenas Paz.

Senior Dayanara Rivera is employed at Lilly Mae’s Cinnamon Rolls on Cannery Row, near the Monterey Bay Aquarium, which according to the Monterey Bay Aquarium website, attracts around 2 million people a year. She explains the struggles that come with working with people from all over the world, but also how those challenges can be overcome.

“One benefit is seeing the different ways in how humans who sometimes don’t speak each other’s language find ways to communicate,” says Rivera. “For example, a couple walked in who didn’t speak English, so when they were ordering they had their phone out, which they were using to translate, and I communicated back the same way by talking into their device.” 

Tristan Harris experiences a lot of visitors to the area while working at the Starbucks in The Crossroads. (photo by NICOLE MIRSKI)

Although Starbucks is a well-known chain that can be found in many cities and towns around the U.S., junior Tristan Harris, who is employed at Starbucks in the Crossroads Carmel, explains how she still comes across a lot of tourists who stop by for a quick drink or snack, and especially the Monterey location mugs.

“I usually ask if people aren’t from around here, and if they aren’t, I ask what their plans are,” Harris says. “I then tend to recommend any places that would be fun for them to visit.”

From locally owned businesses to bigger chains in and near Monterey, these destinations provide a space for high schoolers to boost their social skills and gain a wider understanding of places outside the peninsula.


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