April 23, 2020
College-bound high school seniors across the land are busy heading down the home stretch of their academic year. Complicating this sometimes frantic period are critical questions that need to be answered:
And there may be other questions, too. However, one question that all seniors should be asking, in case they don't already know the answer, is: “What will I be doing this summer?"
Those roughly three months between high school graduation and landing on a college campus can offer a lot of opportunity. Maybe some of you already have your plans made. You may be returning to a job you worked last summer, or perhaps you'll continue working a job that has been part of your ongoing school year. Those are optimal situations.
Actually, it may be a bit late for those of you who haven't given any thought to summer work. The good news is that the job market has made a significant comeback during the last year or so. Just check your local job listings and you may notice that there are more openings than there have been in the past. It's time to start your investigation!
The big question you may be asking is: “What kind of work do I want to do?" Well, it may not be a matter of what you want to do, but, rather, what is available for you to do.
[WARNING: Here comes another one of those sleep-inducing "Dave recalls his Wonder Years" narratives. Do not read while driving or operating heavy equipment!]
Back in the day, I worked a number of highly unglamorous (by today's standards) summer jobs. Let's see ...
Enough about my summer jobs. Thankfully.
My inspiration for this post comes from an older Wall Street Journal article called In Praise of the Teen Summer Job, by Dave Shiflett, who notes, "From hauling bricks to delivering newspapers, traditional summer work taught generations of teens about life, labor and their place in the universe."
That's also my recollection of summer jobs. Shiflett does contrast back-then to nowadays:
Among the signs of my advancing age is bafflement at hearing younger parents talk about what their teenagers are going to do over the summer. Some mention internships with documentary filmmakers. Others say that their offspring will spend the hot months building latrines in distant corners of the developing world. A few speak of expeditions to measure the disappearance of glaciers or a period of reflection at an ashram in Tamil Nadu.
What on Earth is an ashram? And when did teenagers start doing all these exotic things instead of working summer jobs?
I wish them well, of course, and hope that they build the finest latrines ever to grace the Guatemalan countryside. I should also acknowledge that I wish such opportunities had been available to me when I was growing up ...
Of course, all of Shiflett's learning experiences, like mine, were the result of actually having a job, which reminds me of an old Saturday Night Live Steve Martin bit where he assumes the voice of one of those high-pressure, late-night TV hustlers and excitedly proclaims:
"You... can be a millionaire... and never pay taxes! Yes! You can be a millionaire... and never pay taxes!
You say ... 'Steve ... how can I be a millionaire ... and never pay taxes?'
First ... get a million dollars. Now... you say, 'Steve ... what do I say to the tax man when he comes to my door and says, 'You ... have never paid taxes!'?'
Two simple words. Two simple words in the English language: 'I forgot!'"
Taking the Steve Martin approach, then, let me say that you, too, can have these great learning experiences with a summer job! How?
First, get a summer job. Obvious, huh? Well, being the curious guy that I am, I wondered what kind of advice the “experts" are professing these days to high schoolers looking for summer employment. So, I found this recent article on how to get a great summer job.
Note that these points are not just for any job, but for a great job. Where was this article when Cold Power was breaking my neck? Here are four of the eight great tips from the article:
Be sure to read the remaining four tips to help you round out your job-search toolbox.
As I mentioned above, today, as we approach mid-April, may be getting into the squeeze period for getting summer work. But, there's good news. Here's what one expert had to say about last year's summer employment opportunities:
Laura Dresser with the Center on Wisconsin Strategies said there are always reasons to be wary of future growth, as it depends on how national and international markets do. She does, however, reassure that the next few months look promising for job seekers.
"We'll see a lot of 'help wanted' signs out," Dresser said.
She said there are a few fields with more openings than others, including construction, manufacturing, healthcare, retail, and food service …
That was good news from last year. The even better news is that this year, things are even stronger. Therefore, you'll probably find even more help-wanted signs out there.
So if you're interested in putting the upcoming summer months to better use than following Facebook, Twitter, et al or keeping up with the Kardashians, then make your summer job search plans now. If you're really successful, maybe you can become a millionaire and not pay any taxes!
Be sure to check out all my admissions-related articles at College Confidential.