Summer jobs mean more than a paycheck in your pocket

By Camie Jobe | Photographer

When most people think fondly of summer, it normally involves hot days spent splashing at the pool, laughter from friends both new and old and the “cha-ching!” of a biweekly paycheck hitting your account. Sure — to most, working in the summer is an effort to fund another Cowboy Coffee for when you desperately need a pick-me-up. But if you give them the chance, summer jobs have more life lessons packed into them than you would think.

Some might call me a workaholic, but I call myself determined. During high school, I owned and operated a bakery out of my home, worked as a videographer and was an afternoon nanny on the weekdays, routinely clocking in 50-hour work weeks when all was said and done. While I wholeheartedly admit I overfilled my plate more than I care to admit, these jobs played an enormous role in molding me into the woman I am today. Do not get me wrong: The money was always nice, but the skills and life lessons from my hectic high school days will stay with me for the rest of my life. The work ethic, organization and personal morals I have taken away from them have truly been priceless.

I had never really experienced my work ethic being put to the test until I got my first job. School requires diligence and commitment, but is tested on a whole new level when revolving around a job. Fostering a high work ethic in the low-stakes environment of summer jobs will lead to tangible outcomes such as efficiency, quality culture and employee satisfaction in career jobs. These tangible outcomes point to why so many employers are hunting for individuals with a high work ethic — and by using your time now to grow in this skill, you will reap the benefits for years to come.

Organization is a key talent that is considered crucial in today’s workforce, but I believe it goes far beyond that. Learning the ways in which your brain organizes best outside the classroom will not only change your career but also keep your personal life from flying off the rails. Being organized creates a sense of dependability and maturity — both sought-after skills in the world.

Above all, summer jobs taught me about my personal limits, especially around money. Is picking up that extra shift on a Friday night more important than getting to spend time with my friends and family? Would I rather work until I am a shell of my former self, boiled down to a ball of exhaustion and adrenaline? At what point is the juice no longer worth the squeeze? These were burning questions I could only answer for myself, and the same goes for you. Being able to enter college with these decisions in place is something I have valued this year, despite it being elusive on college move-in packing lists.

If this resonated with you, I implore you to find a job you love this summer. Find a job you truly enjoy doing, and believe it or not, it does not have to have anything to do with your major. So, go chase your passions and your dreams. College years are your selfish years. Go find something that makes you happy and teaches you who you are.