Good Morning America (GMA) did a spot yesterday about teens and summer jobs. First Daughter, Sasha Obama, apparently has a summer job at a seafood stand and GMA was reporting that less than one third of teens are taking summer positions. They mentioned a few reasons for this statistic, one of them being just a lack of jobs being available.
All that talk got me thinking about the various summer jobs I have held from my pre-teen years to now. Being a teacher for so many years, I have been given the opportunity to switch gears in the summer months, if I so chose, and do something different. I had dreams of working on cruise ships or leading various challenge camp experiences in remote areas. For various reasons, I was never able to do those things, but I did have some different experiences that have helped shape who I am today and perhaps lead me to my next phase of life.
My earliest job, at the age of 11, was as the neighborhood babysitter. I had quite a business for an 11 year old! Many times I was charged with five or more very small children, for an entire day, needing to make sure all of them were safe, fed, clean, and happy. I was only 11! But I must have done that job really well, because I was the most requested sitter in town, by parents and kids alike and good grief did I make some good money in those years! From those connections, I also grew my own pet sitting and house sitting business. When those families would go out of town for vacation or other reasons, I was left to make sure their home stayed safe and their plants and pets were kept alive and well.
I was 14 or 15 years old when I got my first “real” job. I worked in the town’s bakery. As a diabetic, my mom was less than thrilled that I had secured that position. The idea of me being immersed in a world of sugar everyday, all day long, was one she thought to be most dangerous to my health. The fact was, working in a bakery was the best job for me! Being surrounded by sugar all day long made that sweet treat the last thing I wanted to reach for when I was hungry. I craved salads and meat and foods with substance. I was sad when that bakery closed shortly after I took that job.
A couple doors down from that bakery was a toy store that I had frequented quite often as a young child. The manager recognized me when I approached him for a job and that was my next adventure in summer jobs. My boss was also willing to give me weekend hours throughout the school year and during Christmas vacation. What a FUN place to work during the holiday season! I also learned a lot about retail business and price management and how to order inventory and stock shelves properly.
As I was getting ready to go off to college and wanted to have jobs and experience geared toward my future interests, I obtained a position in a daycare center near my home. I became the head teacher for the school age children and was responsible for activities to keep them occupied all day during the summer months. My class ranged in age from 5 to 10 years old and it was a challenge to keep all of them happy and entertained for an entire day. It was through this job that I found I really did want a career in teaching and that my love for children was real!
As my college years were coming to an end, I became much more concerned with making money and less concerned searching for jobs that I would enjoy. The summer after my junior year in college I took a job as a proof reader at a check printing company. I made great money that summer. And hated every single second of that summer job! It was through that position that I learned I was not cut out for corporate America or a desk / office job. I needed to be with young people and moving around and laughing. Although it was a job I did not care for, I learned quite a bit about myself and others that summer, so it was not a complete waste of my time.
I was blessed with a teaching job my first year out of college. I became a third grade teacher in a local Catholic school and they were the absolute best five years of my life! I was doing exactly what I knew I wanted to be doing and I had the perfect age to work with, plus the faculty with whom I started my career were some of the most stellar people I have ever met! They were strong powerful women, secure with themselves and their careers and they taught me with the same conviction they taught their students. I am so grateful for how I launched my career of twenty five years. I was not making enough money to survive on my own, but I was completely happy in what I was doing and that made all the difference in the world to me at that point in my life.
In order to survive, I had to have side jobs and summer jobs to fund my weekly food bill and other necessities. My favorite one was as a dog walker. I joined forces with a woman who ran her own dog walking business and everyday, I had three or four dogs that I would have to RUN for an hour at a local park. Three or four hours of running every single day had me in the best shape of my life, plus I was hanging out with some pretty cute and fun furry friends. I was really sad when she decided to fold her business and move on to other adventures for herself.
I ended up launching my own tutoring business in the summers and good grief was I busy! I worked forty hours a week, jumping from the local library to the homes of the kids I tutored to classrooms in various school buildings. I bought my first car and put a down payment on my first home from that little business of mine! I still have students I tutor now and from that little endeavor, I have also launched my own Test Prep class for eighth graders preparing for their high school entrance exams.
In between all those jobs, I have done a ton of volunteer work as well. Those adventures have truly become the heart and soul of who I am and what matters most to me. I have worked with the elderly, the homeless, the sick and disabled, young children, troubled teens, struggling families, neglected animals . . .and I now endeavor to fill every single second of every single day of my life with doing anything and everything I can to help others. That is the very heart and soul of who I have become and what matters most to me and I am so grateful for the many people and positions in my life that have helped shape me into this person I am today.