Part-Time Problems: What to Know Before Choosing a Summer Job

A college student doesn’t just cease to be poor once the summer starts (unless you count the income you gain mooching off your parents).Thankfully though, there’s a way stop those annoying PNC bank account emails from alerting us to our negative balances — get a summer job.

Unfortunately, the combination of your desperation and limited options can lead to locking down a job you know isn’t the right fit for you, but hey, at least they’re willing to give you a week off for vacation time!

For me, a summer of minimum wage and less-than-cute wardrobe at an (unnamed) fast-food chain was a less than ideal way to pay off my bills. But, through some angry bosses and questionable co-workers, I’ve learned the lessons all part-timers need to know. Hopefully, you can take something from them without ever having to sacrifice a summer.

Pick a place you’re proud of

When I’m on campus, I have a Penn State student’s part-time dream job: working as a barista at Irving’s Bagels. So, when I came home for the summer in search of a job, I settled for a second-tier food court option where I thought I could just keep my head down, get my paycheck and call it a day.

I learned very quickly that I was wrong. When it comes to choosing a part-time job, plan on spending a good amount of time there. This is why it’s vital to choose a place you’re proud to work for, otherwise you’re just going to end up hating every painstaking hour of your shift and looking back on your summer wondering why you didn’t quit sooner.

Co-workers make a difference

Last week one of my co-workers, a 30-year-old on-again-off-again community college student, came into work on a hallucinogen, locked himself in the staff bathroom and proceeded to kick a hole through the door to get out.

Until that moment, I wasn’t quite sure what it was about the work environment at my summer job that made me hate it so much. Now I understand and I sincerely hope you do, too.

Working with people your own age or at least people who hold the same standards and values you do make a part-time job a far better experience. I learned a lot about strip clubs and baby-daddy’s this summer from my co-workers, but in the end, I couldn’t connect with anyone more deeply and it made me dread every shift.

Like-minded people tend to flock to the same places, so get a job somewhere you could see yourself spending time outside of work.

Be prepared to work hard

Go figure, right? But really, any job is going to take work, and even if you hate it, it’s in your best interest to get as much out of it as you can.

Do what your boss tells you to do with a smile, ask your co-workers how their weekends were. If you really have to quit, do it with class: put in a two-week’s notice– don’t just skip out.

Come summer’s end, you’ll be able to look back on every paycheck knowing that you earned it. Every experience is a learning experience and while I hope you never have to learn the way I did, you can smile because it’s over, not cry because it happened.

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