As we dive back into the school year, students are reflecting on incredible summers, full of relaxation and exciting vacations. But for many students, this summer was one of hard work and great reward. Take a look at the ups and downs of having a summer job.

While working during the school year can be a great experience, summer brings an opportunity for some fun in the sun. Senior Maddie Swartz worked as a sleepaway camp counselor at Camp Seafarer in Arapahoe, North Carolina. She lived with 10-year-olds and two co-counselors in a cabin setting for nine weeks straight. 

More specifically, she worked on the activity “powerboating,” teaching campers to drive boats on the river, and she enjoyed working with other people who love powerboating. 

“The hardest part of my job was pushing through the long and tiring days along with taking care of camper issues,” said Maddie. “I learned how to be resilient and show a positive face because people are always looking up to you.”

Similarly, sophomore Dallis Walsh enjoyed summer weather while working as a lifeguard at Piedmont Park. Dallis appreciated watching the kids having summer fun while they played in the pool. “I also enjoyed seeing regulars who loved to chat and check up on you,” said Walsh. Becoming a lifeguard requires difficult training, and Walsh recognizes that it is not an easy task. “The hardest part was making sure that everyone was safe, especially when the pool was crowded,” said Walsh. “I learned that you must always be alert and ready to act when you see someone in trouble or something that can lead to a problem.”

While these summer-oriented jobs are great, not everyone is ready to take on the higher job responsibilities of caring for children. However, there are still so many options! 

Numerous students also took on more traditional job settings this summer. Working these types of jobs during the summer gives students both extra availability and summer opportunities to spend their earnings on. For example, sophomore Nola Shapiro prepared food at Frutta Bowls, a superfood café serving acai bowls, smoothies and more. 

She learned the proper way to treat customers and that “if you are polite to everyone they are usually very understanding.” “The hardest part was probably having to learn so many skills at once, such as professional health protocol,” said Shapiro. 

While working exhausting and long hours, she also had fun with her coworkers. “Most of the employees are around my age,” said Shapiro. “Some of my friends worked with me which made it much more fun.”

On the contrary, junior Martin Andra-Thomas, who worked as a host at McCray’s Tavern in Smyrna, explained that “the hardest part of my job was dealing with difficult coworkers.” While he may not have enjoyed his coworkers as much as Shapiro, Andra-Thomas still had a fun work experience seating customers, and he enjoyed bringing the food out to people. Working in customer service teaches many important lessons. “I learned valuable work experience, such as dealing with rude customers,” said Andra-Thomas.

Senior CJ Thomas also learned many lessons about customer service while preparing smoothies at Tropical Smoothie Cafe in Brookhaven. “If you aren’t vigilant, then someone else has to clean up your mess,” said Thomas. “It’s better just to clean up after yourself so you can make it easier on the rest of the team.” 

Thomas loved interacting with customers and particularly enjoyed his well deserved earnings, for his manager would schedule him for 35+ hour work weeks.

Seniors Maddie Swartz and Marley Venturi enjoy time off on the beach during their nine weeks as sleep away camp counselors in North Carolina. Photo: Maddie Swartz

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