The Necessary Evil of the Summer Job

My son is home from college next week—and hallelujah—he’s already looking for a summer job.  Now, let’s put this in perspective here:  while most kids were lining up their fake ID’s the first week of college, my son was signing up with a brokerage firm.  He’s been about the money since, well, kindergarten.  He’s actually been making money since kindergarten, hence the need for the financial adviser.  So, you’d think he wouldn’t be too picky about his employment for the summer.  Wrong.

It seems the typical summer job at the pool or flipping burgers or even wearing the red shirt at Target isn’t glamorous enough.  He’s done his share of lawn mowing, house painting, and camp counseling.  He wants a REAL job.  He wants to intern at some glamorous Fortune 500 Company or, better yet, an NFL team.  Dude, wake up and smell the coffee, you need a degree for those jobs.

Kids working during their college break are usually waitresses or hostesses at their local Ruby Tuesday’s.  Right?  Or, how about parking cars at the local outdoor amphitheater for over $10 an hour?  Not good enough.  Last year, my son worked for an ophthalmologist.  Here’s a scary thought, they actually let him operate the machines to perform diagnostic testing on patients.  An eighteen-year-old with no medical training!  The doctor’s all loved him and they have offered him a job after medical school.  Unfortunately, he has no desire to go to medical school.  He won’t wait that many years for a pay check.  I mentioned his love of money, right?

All this talk of first jobs got me thinking about all the summer employment I’ve had.  Babysitting was my first source of payola when I was 12.  I remember saving up for a bean bag chair for my room.  I think it was black and it never made it to my dorm room.  When I could drive, I got my first real job busing tables at Manny Moon’s Pizzarant.  (I’m noticing a pattern here of a series of jobs preparing me for motherhood.)  Then it was on to a local bakery where I sampled a little too much of the inventory.  (Sadly, this trend has continued.) I worked retail several summers.  To this day, I can’t leave an item in the dressing room.

While in college, I worked at the graduate library and the computer center.  I also worked in telephone sales one summer.  It was a good thing we weren’t paid on commission because I wasn’t pushy enough.  I did get a second telemarketing gig when a woman was so impressed with my spiel that she hired me over the phone to market replacement windows, and no, I didn’t sell a single one.

It was my summer job working for Congress that ultimately lead to a career.  Because I had worked there during the summer, I was the first one hired upon graduation.  Which, of course, is what my son is plotting.  Fortunately for him, he’s already secured a great campus job next school year which pays well.  He can afford to work for peanuts at something “fun” this summer.  And, yes, I’m jealous.  Especially if the Raven’s job pans out. 🙂

How about you?  Did you have any interesting summer jobs?


About Tracy Solheim

Best-selling author of the Out of Bounds series--sexy, contemporary sports romance novels. See what she's up to at

Posted on March 2, 2012, in Blog Posts and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 11 Comments.

  1. Oh, Tracy, don’t we all have some really unusual jobs under our belts, eh? Stuffing envelopes for six weeks? AACK! Or how about cleaning bathrooms at the Penny Market? Double AACK! I enjoyed working at the cinema where I got unlimited popcorn and led people to their seats after the movie started! My best job has been being a mom and second to that, a writer.

  2. I had to clean the bathroom at the bakery I worked at, too. No fun. I agree being a mom is a great job. I also loved my job in television working at the Olympics. It was a once in a lifetime experience.

  3. Wow Tracy, you’ve had some interesting jobs!!

    I never had a “summer job” per se. Mine were always year round. First job at 15 was at a fried chicken place. Found out right away just how nasty chickens are, and how scary a drivethru window register is with no training.

    It was a pizza place for most of high school, and then retail and a file clerk for a dr’s office. Then I moved to Dallas and started what I didn’t know would be nearly 20 years of secretarial jobs. Ugh. Opened and ran an indie bookstore for a year and a half ten yrs ago, then when it didn’t make it I did a three month stint as a Post Office mail carrier while looking for employment again. That was eye-opening. Lost 20 lbs doing that too. LOL. Then back to the office again.

    I’m still at a desk, still crunching numbers (yuck) but I’m hoping this Author thing will rescue me one day. LOL.

    • Oh and your comment about the dressing room reminded me how I feel about tips. When I was living in Colorado and my daughter was a toddler, I worked half days at an office, and delivered pizza at night, so that I could have the afternoons with her and “be like a real mom”. Loved the pizza delivery thing, actually, I got to listen to alot of books on tape, and got great tips. Now, I tip very well, because I appreciate the work they do!

    • Sharla,
      You have to have some good material for a book from the mail carrier days!

  4. Mary Mullenbach

    Tracy, like you, I started out babysitting. I saved up enough money to buy myself a Schwinn Varsity 10-speed! Remember the status???

    My first real job was as a pantry girl at Perkins, a popular 24-hour breakfast restaurant in Minnesota and the midwest. I was so fantastic at that they promoted me to hostess and then waitress. Yes, I worked the graveyard shift (11p-7a) Fridays and Saturdays during high school! Would we ever let our kids do that???

    In college I worked summers for the on-campus housing department, doing oh-so-glamorous things like cleaning toilets, changing smelly, sweaty sheets during summer football camps, painting, vacuuming…again, like you, all jobs that have served me well as a mother.

    The most exciting job I had during college was one that I have been lucky enough to reacquaint myself with in these past 10 years. I worked for the on-campus newspaper as a copy editor and Variety section editor. I wrote and edited articles. I also interned in the Alumni office doing writing assignments my senior year.

    After college I did the “go back to school to get a teaching degree” for a bit while married but had two babies instead.:) And then a third.

    Interesting, isn’t it, how things work out?

  5. Oh, so many jobs! I worked at a hot dog place at 15, a clothing store at 16, and delivered papers to apartment complexes at 17 (what the heck were my parents thinking? I could have been abducted and killed!)

    In college I worked bagging groceries, at a gift store in the mall, at a pizza place for miserable tips, at a ham store over the holidays, and then began a long string of unpaid internships that led me to the most underpaid profession of all time–non-profit communications!

    Best job ever is being a mom and a writer! Thanks for the walk down memory lane!

  6. You’re right, Mary, it is interesting how things work out. I never intended to work 17 years as a Congressional investigator, but I’d worked for the Comptroller General answering his phones 12-8 and Saturdays one summer and I kind of fell into the job. It paid twice as much as the entry level reporting jobs I was offered and you couldn’t beat the benefits. 🙂 I learned a lot and I visited some pretty crazy places, but it was fun.

  7. I started out babysitting, moved up into a fast food cook at the local A&W, then during my high school senior year, worked at the local retirement home, after which I fell into accounting and loved number crunching so much, that’s where I stayed.

  8. My summer jobs ranged from babysitting to waitressing — depending on my age! By the time I went to college, I was working full-time and attending school full to part-time. Gone were my summer breaks. 😦 But it was great prep for the real world!!

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