Lending a hand in the family business


Ani Sinanyan made these cupcakes at her family's bakery in Glendale, Calif., where she works.

By David Olvera-Sanchez, Clark Magnet HS, La Crescenta, Calif.

After finishing their classes earlier than other students (due to the lessened class requirements), many seniors utilize this extra chunk of time to relax with friends or catch up on homework. However, senior Ani Sinanyan has little time to waste because every day she goes straight from school to work in her family-owned business, a Glendale bakery shop.

As the owner’s daughter, Sinanyan says that she has many responsibilities that she must tend to on a daily basis.

“I help the customers organize meetings, handle our social media, act as a cashier, prepare pastries for baking, help design the cakes, take photos of the cakes for online media and advertisement, and even deliver orders on occasion,” Sinanyan said.

Sinanyan has always done a bit of work here and there over the past nine years that her father has owned his business, Special Cakes by Ruben.

“Ever since I started high school, though, I have been working here more than I did before,” Sinanyan said. “I work until it’s time to close and then I have to head home and start my homework; I don’t have much time to socialize or go out with friends during the week.”

In addition to the busy working schedule, Sinanyan also said that some of the other challenges that she has faced include heavy lifting and having to deal with stressful situations and deadlines.

“When you work for your family you may get yelled at for doing something wrong, because a lot is expected of you,” Sinanyan said.

However, Sinanyan also says that working in her family cake shop has its advantages. Sinanyan says that one perk is that she does get paid for the amount of hours she works every week at the shop.

“From working in my family business, I have definitely learned professional social skills (i.e., having eye contact and maintaining a positive attitude despite difficulties with a customer) and how to remain calm during stressful chaotic situations,” Sinanyan said.

Moreover, Sinanyan said that the best part of working in her father’s bakery is that she gets to see her family often and does not have to work for anyone that she does not like.

From working in my family business, I have definitely learned professional social skill and how to remain calm during stressful chaotic situations.”

— Ani Sinanyan

Also echoing the sense of family camaraderie that working together in a family business evokes are triplets juniors Mary, Robert, and David Agajanian who help out in their family’s general store, the A&A Discount store in Glendale.

“Coming from a large family, [working in the family store] gives me a sense of accomplishment because I feel that I am contributing to the family’s income and livelihood,” David Agajanian said.

According to the siblings, the store is a one-stop discount shop offering a wide array of merchandise (including groceries, stationery, glassware and toiletries).

“We’ve been helping out ever since we were able to help do our part,” said Mary Agajanian. Like Sinanyan, once the siblings entered high school, their positions at their family’s business became more of a legitimate job (working mostly on the weekends).

According to the triplets, each of them has specific tasks that they stick to in working at the store.

“My brother Robert and I help organize and stock the shelves, carry in the deliveries and guide customers where certain items in the store are located,” said David Agajanian. Mary Agajanian says that she often acts the store cashier when she works at A&A.

The siblings said that the bulk of their work at the family store is done on the weekends, working about four to five hours on Saturday and about six hours on Sundays. Despite this busy work schedule, the Agajanians say that they still are able to make a sufficient amount of time to complete weekend school assignments and hang out with friends.

“Besides teaching us responsibility, our jobs are a great way for us to earn extra money,” said David Agajanian. According to the Agajanians, they each receive about $8 per hour (minimum wage) for the work they contribute.

In addition, researchers have confirmed that teenagers like the Agajanians who work in their family’s businesses do attain rewards from their positions. In an online article published by Business writer Jennifer Halyk of the University of British Columbia, Halyk says that although many “perceive [working with your family in the workplace] as inherently messy with feuding and emotional decision-making” this is usually not the case and that studies show that adolescents who work in their family’s business on an ongoing basis gain measurable advantages over their peers who do not. According to the data presented, these advantages can include a higher sense of self-esteem, more developed social, communication, and business skills, and a better relationship with one’s parents and family.

Affirming these assertions, Mary Agajanian said that working as a cashier in A&A has helped accustom her to what a daily working schedule would be like and the skills it would entail.

“[Working in the store] has taught me how I should interact with customers in a business setting and maintaining a positive, professional attitude even if the customer is difficult. Also, I’ve gotten used to the longer hours and routine that would come along with having a job,” Agajanian said.

Both Sinanyan and the Agajanian siblings seem to agree that working in their family’s respective businesses have allowed them to do their part to contribute towards the family enterprise and also gain valuable skill sets as well as some extra money.

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