The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian

The news site of Evanston Township High School's student newspaper

The Evanstonian


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Opinion | The summer job: more than just money

As I walked out of the cramped YMCA aquatics office for the first time in early June, done with my first day of swim instructor shadowing, I thought I had everything figured out. I would learn the ropes, work my shifts, start to teach my own classes and have a nice little something to add to my resume. On top of that, I was making more money than I ever had, which, to be fair, wasn’t much, but the taste of independence was gratifying. I finally felt like an adult. I enjoyed buying things on my own, and I liked saying I worked a job. However, the festivities ended there as I quickly realized everyone wants a job until they actually have to work.

After my first real week, I started to think about the next week, where I would have to work while also studying for the SAT or the week after that when summer swim season started, and I would have to work after morning practice. Things were going to get busy, and I had a feeling that work would become something just taking up hours in the day. So, when I started getting questions about my fall availability, I quickly shut them down. If I was anticipating a busy summer, how busy would I be working during the school year? I knew I would have to say goodbye and come back next year, and I was okay with that. I was content with letting a summer job just be a summer job. So, when my mom asked me if I planned on working during the fall season, I didn’t need to find any excuses; the answer was plain and simple: “Nah.”

Cut to the present day, and I am awaiting my work schedule for the fall swim lesson season. Oh, if only past me knew how much things would change! Yes, I got everything I thought I would get out of the experience—namely, an understanding of the workplace and, of course, money—but I also acquired skills I never imagined I would have going into the summer. I was quickly forced to practice money management, with my newfound income to spend on basically anything. Vending machines and gas station snacks swiftly took a chunk out of my first paycheck, especially while on vacation, and I knew that I would have to start tracking my spending habits. Before purchasing anything, I would ask myself if I actually needed it, and if I didn’t, I would ask myself why I wanted it. Obviously nothing too fancy, but managing money was never something I had experience with before, so I’m grateful that I can practice it at a basic level through my summer job.

Sam Froum

Another major aspect of life impacted by my work was networking. I knew I would have to work with others, but I never would have expected to make connections with so many unique people. I learned a lot from my coworkers, not just about the job, but about school, life and more. I’ve made friends I now see during the school year and know I’ll see in the future, whether in the upcoming work season or just in classes and sports. Though I honestly was not expecting much in this regard going into the summer, I now know that the relationships you build in a summer job are one of the most rewarding aspects of all.

Finally, the biggest benefit from working that I’ll be taking with me into this school year is time management. As stated earlier, I quickly realized how much I would be juggling this summer, and the need for a plan became mandatory if I was going to get everything on my schedule done.

So, out of necessity, I started implementing things like a daily planner, where I would write out my whole day and exactly what I would be doing each hour. I made use of my calendar app more than I ever had, putting in alerts and important dates to keep myself organized. These habits, while simple, were critical for me to know when important events were happening and how to plan properly, all of which are skills that will be more important than ever for junior year. Out of all three benefits I’ve discussed today, this discipline and organization is probably the most practical advantage I will be bringing with me, not only for the near future but for the rest of my life.

So, if you’re still debating whether or not to continue that summer job throughout the school year or start working in general, hopefully, this served as a bit of an indicator that the benefits go beyond just the paycheck. Money management, networking, and time management are skills you can carry regardless of where you go.

And, well, the money is definitely nice too.

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About the Contributors
Isaac Peng, Opinion Columnist
Sam Froum, A&E Editor
Hi, I’m Sam Froum (he/him), and I’m the Editor of A&E and Photo & Art. This is my third year on staff; previously I was the assistant editor of A&E and a staff writer. I write for the Evanstonian because it allows me to become a better writer and provides opportunities for collaboration with other students. I also run cross country and track and participate in Wildkit Buddies. Outside of school, I like to draw, run and watch TV.
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