Summer jobs #2: Catching some rays

We can’t all have culturally or intellectually interesting summer jobs like Kristen, Peter, and Roxana.  Someone needs to staff the positions that enable everyone to have summer fun!

Liz was up in the lifeguard’s chair around a pool:

My favorite summer job was being a lifeguard, and my favorite lifeguarding gig was at a private psychiatric hospital in Vermont.  Yes, you heard me right.  The hospital had an outdoor pool that was available in the summer to patients who had earned the privilege, but they couldn’t come into the pool area unless they were with hospital staff.  (I was trained only on pool-related issues, not mental, physical or emotional ones.)  Also, the pool was only four feet deep.  By my second summer there, I was the senior lifeguard and didn’t have to work weekends anymore.  During the week, patients visited at fairly regular intervals, spaced out throughout the day.  When no one was at the pool, I would swim, read, sunbathe, or nap.  When it rained, I moved my chair into the fairly spacious pool shed; and when it was so stormy that it was unsafe to stay outside, I’d hang out in the hospital cafeteria.  My boss was fantastic, I befriended some of the hospital staff, who would come visit me on their breaks, and (for the most part) the patients were really great, too.   I spent four summers lifeguarding at the hospital.  As summer jobs go, it was the best — I made really great money and got to spend my day outside by a pool.  What could be better than that? =)

Jeff, was also in the lifeguard’s chair, when not scooping ice cream:

Aside from less interesting college internships, I held two great summer jobs.  Throughout my childhood, my life revolved around the pool, so it was only natural to become a lifeguard.  Summers in high school were spent working two blocks away from my house. I could literally roll out of bed and be “at work” (I use that term loosely) within five minutes.  It was a great gig – free food throughout the day, nice tans, and numerous visits from friends.  On the other hand, it sometimes got quite boring as the pool was rarely used:  the patrons spent 90% of their day on the golf course.  I guess my job was really more about getting a tan and eating, than it was about saving lives.

Another summer job I held (which also involved eating) was scooping ice cream at our local creamery.  It was only open from late spring to fall, and it was literally a shack with picnic tables off to the side.  During the long, hot summer months, the lines of customers seemed to never end, but we always had  a great time.  There were usually about four of us on a shift, happily serving customers while singing, dancing, and gossiping.  The best part of work was the chance to treat ourselves to ice cream throughout the day.  As ice cream is one of my favorite desserts (it’s a tossup between ice cream and chocolate chip cookies), nothing could have been better.

As for me, for five summers, you might have found me at the foot of the lifeguard’s chair at Jones Beach State Park, near my childhood home on Long Island, NY.  I was a “state worker,” which referred to all the people (aside from the lifeguards) who kept the park running.  In my first summer, I did the worst of the work:  picking garbage up off the beach, cleaning bathroom facilities, collecting parking fees.  For the following four summers, I was promoted to foreman, which meant a combination of telling other people to do the worst of the work, and doing a little of it myself.  Jones Beach is an extraordinarily busy place (maximum capacity on a hot summer’s day was 250,000 people), and I learned a lot there about the best and worst of humanity.  (It is indeed true that there are people who will leave a child in a baking-hot car while they go for a swim.  Fortunately, there are also people who will call the police when they spot the child.)  It was a funny time in the world of summer jobs, and our staff was made up of college students for whom this was a job of choice.  The money was good, the hours were consistent, and it was very social, even if the work could be smelly.

And there you have it.  When you meet us, judge for yourself whether our summer jobs with manuscripts or ice cream shaped the way we approach Admissions work.  Or share your own stories with a comment on this entry.

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