KEYSTROKE MONTHLY THE
JUNE 2019 Loading Barrels and Selling Vacuums
What I Learned From My Summer Jobs
T he high school and college years are a formative time in every young person’s life. Many students have just graduated from high school and college, ready to pursue a higher education or join the workforce. Others might just be starting another summer before returning to school in the fall, but even they have the next couple of months to work, save money, and create new experiences. The summer before I left for college, I worked at an oil refinery. I grew up in a town where many of the residents were employed by the refinery — including my father, who was the manager. The refinery employed the children of its employees for the summer to help them save for college. I only lived one block away, so I walked to and from work, and home for lunch most days, too. It was great.
Since I had to afford room and board that summer, I also picked up a second job selling vacuum-sweepers. I made as much doing that as I did working eight hours a day at the refinery, and it might have been the genesis of my interest in marketing. Eventually, I ended up with a minor, and later a master’s degree, in marketing. Summer jobs are a great opportunity to find out what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. I found out I liked sales and marketing and didn’t like loading barrels of oil onto trucks in the Tulsa summer heat. Summer jobs are also good to build connections, which is something I wish I would have done better. One of the guys I worked with at the refinery in Tulsa ended up becoming the mayor of Tulsa later in life. I hope through all my experiences, I can point others in the direction they need to go. If you know a student who has joined the workforce, either temporarily or officially, encourage them to find a job they love doing and people who will help them reach their goals. -Doug Barnes
“Summer jobs are a great opportunity to find out what you like to do and what you don’t like to do. I found out I liked sales and marketing and didn’t like loading barrels of oil onto trucks in the Tulsa summer heat.”
After my first year of college, I came home expecting to do the same summer job. I didn’t know the refinery had changed its policy regarding the children of management. Since I was the son of the manager, I would have to work at a different refinery. So that summer, I moved to work at a refinery in Tulsa. I had to pay room and board while getting paid the same wage to load 55-gallon barrels of oil onto trucks in a warehouse with no air conditioning. All in all, it was a tough summer job. As bad as it was, however, that summer had its silver linings. I always knew I wanted to go to college and play basketball, and I took college for granted. Even though I never doubted I would continue going to college, working at the oil refinery in Tulsa made me realize why education was important: It would keep me from having to do a job like that ever again!
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