CARING IN DuPage
DRAWING THE SAME VALUABLE LESSONS FROM DIFFERENT EXPERIENCES Summer Jobs: Then and Now
I knew I wanted to be a nurse from a very young age. My mother worked as an activity director at a nursing home not too far from the house I grew up in, and, when I was 16, she helped me get a job there for the summer. I did all kinds of work there: laundry, housekeeping, working in the kitchen, you name it. None of it was too glamorous, but I really enjoyed working in that environment. That job removed any last doubts I had about going into nursing. I was lucky to get a summer job that prepared me for my career. Connecting with patients and their families, something I had the chance to do a lot at the nursing home, is still my favorite part of the job. While not every student will have the opportunity to get a summer job related to their desired career, every summer job comes with all sorts of learning opportunities. Whether you score that prestigious internship you’ve been thinking about all school year or end up slaving over a grill at a burger joint, every summer experience has value. Some of that value comes in the form of a paycheck. My parents didn’t give me any sort of allowance, so anytime I wanted to go out with friends or go shopping, that money came out of my paycheck. There’s a real satisfaction that comes with earning money I think some kids don’t get to experience today. Similarly, I think something missing in younger generations is the satisfaction that comes with working up through the ranks. The first job I had wasn’t what I envisioned for my career path, but it helped me to understand how crucial doing good work on menial tasks was to the people at the nursing home. Like I said, I did laundry, cleaned rooms,
and worked in the kitchen. I was okay with starting there, because I knew if I kept at it I would get the nursing career I wanted eventually.
Students’ summers look a lot different than they did when I was younger. My kids were forced to choose between having a summer job or making it to summer practices for the sports they played in the fall. You didn’t always have to
choose between one or the other. Even though student athletes might not be earning a paycheck, they can still use sports as a way to learn about responsibility and accountability. If you don’t show up for practice, you might not forfeit some pay, but you’ll have to sit out during the game. In team sports, every player has to cooperate and understand their role or the whole group suffers the consequences. Lessons learned in sports translate well to a work environment.
“WHETHER YOU SCORE THAT PRESTIGIOUS INTERNSHIP YOU’VE BEEN THINKING ABOUT ALL SCHOOL YEAR OR END UP SLAVING OVER A GRILL AT A BURGER JOINT, EVERY SUMMER EXPERIENCE HAS VALUE.”
My summer job helped me develop cooperation, persistence, and listening skills I still use in my career today. While fewer kids might opt to work during the summer over their other activities, that doesn’t mean they have to opt out of learning life skills that could be crucial to career success. If your kids are working or playing sports, I encourage you to make sure they understand how each experience can benefit their future.
–Diane Thorson Director of Nursing & Compliance
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