What I Learned on my Summer Vacation Is….

What I Learned on my Summer Vacation Is….

What is more appropriate for a first blog post back from summer vacation than the classic back to school essay: “What I did on my summer vacation is….” Although, this has the twist of learning something over the last few months. So welcome back Wildcats and let’s get started!

The end of my family road trip at Monticello, VA: Home of Thomas Jefferson.

The end of my family road trip at Monticello, VA: Home of Thomas Jefferson.

So this summer I did a LOT. I went on a ten day road trip with my family, driving from Connecticut to South Carolina with stops in Washington DC and Virginia on the day. I had two separate jobs after a painfully long summer job hunt. I got to travel and hang out with friends from home. I learned something with every trip or new day at work that I had over the summer. The employment opportunities that I had are the main inspiration for this blog. You see, readers, those summer internships and jobs have a lot more to teach you than you think.

For me, my first job for the summer didn’t come up until the end of June. I had applied to thirty jobs before seeing a friend posting about a job he had gotten with an environmental group (for privacy of that group I won’t name names and just refer to them as EG). Seeing this friend boast about the money he was making and the fun he was having convinced me to submit an inquiry to EG. About ten minutes later I got a phone call asking if I could come in for an interview. This quick response would set the tone for the rest of my experience as this job. Which I only stayed with for a very pathetic two days. But for good reason! Continuing with the narrative here… Not knowing exactly how hiring would work for this group I of course said I would come in that day for an interview. I managed to get a ride and got to the… odd… loft space that housed the office for this group. After ten minutes of wandering around the building trying to find the entrance I got in for my hour long interview. After being asked why I wanted to work there; where I went to school; what my major is; have I done anything like canvasing before; etc.; I was hired on the spot. Which was absolutely crazy to me. I was given some forms to fill out and a script to memorize for the next day (thankfully I have a theatre background to help with all that memorizing!).

I returned the next day for training and a more full description of what I would be doing. The job: canvasing neighborhoods for donations and signatures to protect the Connecticut water ways from pollution. Not too bad. Especially for the pay rate they were offering. I spent a very long morning going through an in house training before the other employees arrived. I, and the other new hires, then tried to learn the staff routines before being sent out across the state to canvas neighborhoods in Connecticut’s more well off towns. This is where my field training would take place and I would learn how to try and get people to donate. After eight hours out in the field doing this, I returned with my “crew” back to the office. It was before I even had finished training that I got promoted to a field manager position. Red flag there.

I came in the next day, for what would be my last with this organization. After being told, by the managers of the organization, that the canvassers could break private property laws and practically shake down the elderly for money, I had to leave. Not without learning a few things first.

Lesson 1: Research New Jobs

I just dove right into this job with no background research on the group or anything that would have given me a red flag before starting. Yeah, the quickness of employment and moving up their ladder was kind of (okay very) shocking, nothing seemed overly out of the ordinary or wrong. It was only after I quit that I found out relatives had worked for this organization and had terrible experiences themselves. With EG, I learned that getting background information is key in starting a new job. You should never go in blind. Ask questions during interviews. If they have a website, read it thoroughly. If you know people who work there, ask them about their experiences.

Lesson 2: Your Moral Compass

Another thing that I learned with this job is to always go with your gut. If your morals don’t match those of the organization/company/group, get out. You don’t have to push what you believe aside just because you have the opportunity to make a few bucks. Yeah, money is nice but your morals shouldn’t be sacrificed for it. I was lucky that my parents supported me on my decision to quit EG and even offered to talk to the head organizer for me (of course, I called myself). For me, the decision to leave came from a complete disagreement with the policies of breaking laws and begging the elderly for money that they didn’t have. Not cool in my book. There is something also very uncomfortable about walking unlit back roads late at night. I don’t know, maybe that’s just me.

The next job I came into was during the last five weeks of summer break. By this point, I had applied to a total of forty two jobs for

My second job for the summer at Connecticut's Old State House

My second job for the summer at Connecticut’s Old State House

the summer and was more than willing to sit at a desk all day and do data entry. This job of course came to be much more than that. My end of summer job was being a museum educator at the Connecticut Old State House, owned by the Connecticut Public Affairs Network. Not a bad gig. A semi-government job at the age of twenty. What more could you ask for?

Actually, I could ask for more and I got it. Thanks to my wonderful training from #UNHSocial, I was able to land the position of interim Social Media Manager for the state house before their new one comes in September.

Best. Job. Ever.

My daily duties were a mix of giving tours, working on Connecticut History day, gift shop attendant/secretary, and then social media. While some days all of this was a lot, it taught me a lot! Not only was I getting office experience, I was getting retail and teaching experience. The teaching was especially helpful since I’m an English Education major.

My day to day include giving tours to the young and old, people from all over the world, and people who had lived in Connecticut their whole lives. I learned how to be spontaneous and how to change up what how my tour went to fit my group. And in the end I broke the museum record for tours given in a single month— 26 tours in under a month (the previous record was 20).

So here is what I learned here:

Lesson 3: Being Prepared Will Always Put You Ahead

Going into this job, I could already do no wrong. The museum was severely understaffed and I was working five days a week there, unlike the other two college interns. But HR loved me because of how prepared I was. I came in to review my applications and other work documents with everything needed—ID, social security card, etc. This is apparently many people forget to do. You should always go into a hiring with any and all possible forms of identification they could ask for and have all of your forms filled out. This will put you in a good spot with HR…. you know, the guys who cut the checks.

Lesson 4: Your Summer Job Doesn’t Have to be Your Dream Job

I’m an English Education major who just spent part of her summer teaching, in a way, American history. Not exactly a match. And then there is, of course, a difference between a museum educator and a high school teacher. But experience is experience. The job you have for the summer doesn’t have to match the job you hope to get after graduation but if it can relate in some way, go for it! I was able to learn so much giving tours that directly relates to skills needed in a classroom. Giving tours isn’t my dream job but it is related. So I can highly recommend broadening your employment search to fit skills you and gain.

Well, although I learned way, way more than just this over the summer, these are the main points. Summer jobs and internships do have a lot to teach us before heading off into careers. Hopefully you learned something at your summer job too!

Welcome back to campus, Wildcats! We’re in for another great year here at UNH!

Links to Consider:

Take a look back at the 2013-2014 school year on UNHTales.

Did this blog get you thinking about jobs? Check out the career center and work studies!