Whether you're a teacher or a student looking to bulk up some extra funds for college, having a summer job is something that we all go into with mixed emotions. Since we were kids, we were pretty much taught that summer equated to reckless carefree time to do whatever we wanted, thus having a job seems to deflate the entire purpose of the season. Yet sometimes we need to bite the bullet, and view the time spent folding t-shirts and monitoring the dressing room as a life experience that thankfully has an end-date.
For others, summer jobs can be a godsend. For those individuals, having a schedule is something that is truly necessary in life. They need a reason to be awake by 7:30 a.m. on a Tuesday, and thrive with having some kind of responsibility. "If I'm not in on time, the store simply won't open," you'll say to yourself, feeling heroic and important. It's nice to have the feeling that people depend on you. In a way, it's even thrilling.
Regardless of why you have the job, one thing rings true for all of those busting their butts this summer — the stories will be endless. You'll temporarily meet some of the most insane people you've ever met, and form a weird bond with them that nobody outside of the job will totally understand. It'll be like getting paid to go to summer camp.
Here are a few things you'll learn along the way.
1. You'll recognize that most of your customers are there for the free air conditioning
I worked at a dress store in the mall during the summer before I left for college, and this was a statement that my boss uttered often. "Look at all of these people, just here for the free air conditioning!" At the time, I was a little naive to say that maybe they were also there to buy merchandise — after all, my boss owned that store for years upon years. If he said it, obviously he knows what he's talking about.
If you work at a retail store where people kind of pop in and out, and don't seem interested in actually trying anything on, there's a good chance that, yes — their homes have a broken wall A/C, and they needed a break from the heat.
2. Fall will become more and more glamorous to you
Maybe not in a You've Got Mail sort of way, but you'll truly appreciate the beauty that autumn brings. Not only does it bring you closer to your regular schedule, but it's a renewal month in general. If you absolutely hate your summer job, you'll be counting down the days until September. In September, you can leave without "quitting." After all, your bosses knew your deal from the moment they hired you.
3. You'll end up liking your job more than you thought possible
All of a sudden, you'll realize how much you actually love your job when you're dealing with your last week. Coworkers will make a point to tell you how they appreciated your help this summer, and you'll have a brief moment of Am-I-Making-The-Right-Decisionitis, wondering whether or not you could still hold down the job while attending classes. You'll look over to Bob, the guy who always wore the same clothes on a daily basis, and suddenly remember why you love the guy. He's quirky, he's got a story to tell, and even though he made your life miserable for two months based on his lack of cooperation, he surely acted that way for a reason, right? Skipping out now without finding out why is just like leaving a movie theater 15 minutes before the end of the flick. You invested time in these people!
4. You'll realize the importance of schedules
All of a sudden, you'll be keeping a mental inventory of when your ultimate favorite coworkers are going on vacation. The best days ever are when you're scheduled alongside the people who make you laugh, so you truly appreciate the random Fridays that have the fun crew working at the same time. In fact, you've gotten really good at manipulating the schedule a bit, to make these days a bit more common. Otherwise, you'll just be stuck with Bob. Ugh, Bob.
5. You learn that you really do nothing when you actually have free time
Back in the day, it was amazing to crush through an America's Next Top Model marathon in a day, but now? Eh. Sure, you're still invested, but you feel a little worthless creating a body mold of yourself on your couch. At your job, you're up and moving — now, you just can't get into the lazy day concept. You start fearing what would have happened if you didn't have this job. Would you form an unhealthy addiction to having food delivered to your door? Sure, you might be eating mall food on the daily, but at least you're taking a walk to reach that level of the mall. Small victories.
6. You'll never look at retail stores the same way ever again
Before I worked at a drug store, I saw it as an ordinary pharmacy. After I worked there, I felt the constant desire to "face" products on end caps, and truly understood the distress of the cashier when her line was long and nobody was responding to her "IC3" code. When you've been in their shoes, you can never get out of them. It's similar to how the very best restaurant tippers are fellow waiters and waitresses — they get it. Thus, even when you're there for a summer, it's kind of a life-changing experience. You understand employees better.
7. You'll truly learn the value of a dollar
If you're salaried throughout the rest of the year, you'll be able to resort back to how hourly wage employees handle their funds. If you're working for 10 bucks an hour, you'll be able to truly visualize those dollars in comparison to time.
Meanwhile, if a summer job is your first step into the working world, you'll truly appreciate all of those financial handouts your parents gave you throughout the years. Just think — every time your parents slipped you a twenty, that was two hours behind a cash register, before taxes. Give your parents a hug, and thank them for always supplying you with clothes throughout your fickle teen years.
8. You'll learn how to interact with all kinds of people
Seriously. Older people, mean people, sweaty people, and people who are suspiciously kind. When you're out of your comfort zone and interacting with the public, customer service is part of the job. Who knows? You might even meet people you never would have interacted with back at school. All it takes is smiling throughout one difficult customer to realize how to manage through future bosses and less than delightful coworkers. In general, you build up a ton of personal strength that's helpful for rising above.
9. You'll discover some of your secret talents
How do you know if you're good at something, unless you try it? Even little things, like dropping 20s in the safe, can feel like an achievement if your other coworkers often forget. Plus, a shout out to all of the camp counselors out there — if you don't have kids yet, this is the perfect opportunity to test your response to a lot of messy, tantrum-filled chaos. You need to react before all hell breaks loose, and be an adult to an unpredictable brood. You're going to come out so much stronger for enduring the experience.
Looking for instant ways to beat the heat this summer? Check out these genius cooling tricks, and for more life hacks, visit Bustle on YouTube.
Images: Warner Bros.; Giphy (9)