Ahhh, summer jobs – they are a cruel mistress. Your time is freed up to gross a little extra cash, and yet, it’s hard to shake that feeling that you’re literally selling your youth for $7.25 an hour. This summer, it hit me just how depressing that really is.
I went back to my hometown to be near my friends and family and nabbed the first minimum wage job that caught my eye. Though I worked as close to 40 hours as I could every week, I was still unable to make enough to cover Emporia State’s freshly increased tuition and fees. Yikes.
And while I struggle to make ends meet, it’s clear that working like a madman may not have been the most efficient option. I have slowly gathered bits of advice from a few smart people who took the time to plan ahead instead of reaching out blindly for any work they could get.
Whether it is a small lawn-care business or getting your CNA certification, which can take as little as seven weeks, there are a variety of small investments that can make your time and your precious youth more valuable and marketable. It pains me to think that I could have been making as much as $15 an hour for the past half-decade, if I had just taken a seven-week long course at the end of high school.
If there are freshman or sophomore students out there looking for a pearl of “summer wisdom” from a fifth-year senior, I say this: know that if you’re willing to invest, you can find work that pays you what you deserve, not what you’re willing to settle for. There is no better time to do this than over the course of this academic year. The best years of your life are worth more than $7.25 an hour.