Students around the world will spend the approaching vacation in a number of different ways, thanks to an academic calendar that was originally developed for agrarian societies.
The big question for most young people at this point is, “What shall I do this summer?” And this leads to the next question, “What are my options?”
Your options are about the same as those of other students. You can work, go to summer school, travel, or just plain loaf. Choosing the best vacation activity is a lot like making the other decisions you have to make in life. You are the only one who can decide what is best for you—and you will have to live with your decision, once you have made it.
There are a number of things you should consider when choosing a summer job. Money is usually important, particularly if you need a certain amount for school in the fall. If it’s money you want, you had better look long and hard at the blue-collar (labor, skilled and semiskilled) jobs and selling opportunities. These are the most lucrative areas for young people.
If travel is involved or you must work away from home, it might be better to stay at home and work for a lower wage than to go away for a high-paying job where you might have to spend a lot on living expenses and travel.
Sometimes a lower-paying job near home leads to a part-time job during the school year. One student decided against a high-paying out-of-state construction job to stay home and work in a service station. His friend took the construction job, and although at the end of the summer he was financially better off than the station attendant, he couldn’t find a part-time job when he returned home for school. By the end of the year, the station attendant who had earned less per hour during the summer had made more than the construction worker had. He also learned enough about auto mechanics to take good care of his own car.
Almost any job experience will be beneficial to you. However, certain experiences will be more valuable than others. Here again, the value of experience compared to that of money is personal and has to be determined by you. If you want to work in the medical field, it would be foolish for you to take a job at a car wash in order to make fifty cents more per hour than you could get doing general work at a hospital.
In fact, some job experiences are so valuable that it might be worth your time to work for nothing. A young Latter-day Saint college sophomore in public relations (PR) volunteered to do publicity and general PR work for an entertainment center. At first his duties were far removed from public relations. He did errand work and was a general office boy much of the time. The next summer he was hired, this time receiving a little pay for his work. Meanwhile he was gaining experience and meeting people. When it was time for him to leave school, his first out-of-school job was helping to manage an entertainer and movie star he had worked with during the previous summer. His starting salary for his first job was higher than that of the dean of his college.
Other students find that a vacation’s experience can help them decide whether or not they want to follow a certain vocation. A student majoring in English literature got a job writing copy for slide presentations and became exposed to the delights of photography. In comparison, English literature lost its allure, and now he puts together excellent multimedia presentations for a prestigious national design agency.
If you plan to become a chemist but on a summer job find that you’re miserable doing chemical analyses, then this experience could be very valuable to you in terms of making a change of plans as soon as possible.
Experience and academic qualifications both become important when you begin to apply for full-time jobs. Of people graduating from college, those who have some practical experience in their field usually land the best jobs.
Though all of us have to do things we do not like, it is important that you ultimately enjoy your work. If you can’t stand to be indoors, maybe you had better try to find something that you would like to do outside. One high school senior loved to fish and camp, and consequently he became very knowledgeable about nature. He got in touch with two prominent naturalists and they hired him. His job? To help study the habits and life of the grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park.
Many students will take a certain job because they feel this is the last time they might be able to have that experience. City youth might want to work on a farm, or young people from the country might want to see what the city is like. And many students take low-paying jobs overseas just for the experience of living abroad.
It is common for youth to find that they cannot get that ideal job because of restrictions imposed by their present situation. If you are a girl who is engaged to a local fellow and are planning to be married in the fall, then a job away from home may not be very enticing.
As a Latter-day Saint you would not want to purposely involve yourself in work that would jeopardize your ability to live gospel standards. No job or any amount of money is worth that.
As you choose a vacation job, think beyond that vacation period—your job may become an important part of your future.