For high schoolers thinking ahead to the college process, summer usually means test prep, getting a jump on coursework for the school year, and essay writing at some point. While all those things are certainly helpful in preparing you to go through the school year and college apps, they don’t diversify your life experience.
Cue entrance for the summer job. If you’re looking for a way to get a new experience, earn money, and prepare yourself for life outside of classrooms, then getting a summer job is for you. I currently work at a convenience store and at Blue Ginger, a popular restaurant in Greater Boston, so I’ll share some takeaways from being in the workforce.
You will learn to be patient with others. At the convenience store I have to sell lottery games to cranky people and at the restaurant I bus tables for patrons that are usually stuck up. I have to deal with old people who expect you to know exactly what lottery games they play without having to tell you, people who stay in the store all day buying scratch tickets and slowing down lines, and snobby diners who come into the restaurant ten minutes before closing time and make the staff stay overtime for 2 hours. It’s easy to get mad about how annoying it is to deal with attitude from others, but by keeping your cool you’ll develop more patience and a thicker skin, which definitely will come in handy during college and beyond.
You will learn to absorb criticism and use it to improve. I had never worked in a restaurant before my job at Blue Ginger, so my first two weeks were rough to say the least. I had trouble filling water glasses with enough ice, cutting bread pieces the right size, clearing plates off of tables, setting tables, pretty much everything involved with being a busboy. I got chewed out by pretty much every server and even the head manager, and some nights I wondered why I still wanted to work with a bunch of jerks who seemed to call me out every five minutes. I still have skills to learn, like polishing wine glasses faster and balancing soup bowls and dinner plates in one hand, but after my initial anger, I actually listened to the criticism that the manager and servers gave me and used it to correct my mistakes and do my job right. Getting called out is embarrassing, but it’s a great way to ensure that you learn what you have to do and make sure that you never mess it up again.
You will appreciate your hard work in the classroom so much more. Don’t get me wrong, working is a great thing to do. Providing for yourself and being responsible at a young age is good for the future, but from working two jobs at the same time and logging in 50+ hours a week at minimum wage and from tips, trust me when I say to cherish your time as a student. If I had my summer work schedule all year, even with my hours, the pay wouldn’t be sustainable for someone in the Boston area. College is a four year safe period where you get to prepare yourself for what life you might want to lead before you get thrust out into the world. So make wise on your investment and make the most of your college years so that you can live the life you want. The classroom is your best bet to get there.