Hi readers! This post is the first post in a series chronicling my hunt for my first ever paid summer job. The focus of this post is what my experiences with “work” have been like so far.
Work is weird.
I should clarify what I mean by “work.” The only experiences I’ve had that could potentially qualify as “work” have been volunteer positions. I’ve never gotten paid for doing anything, but if everything goes according to plan, I hope to get a paid job this summer. However, the previous “work” positions I’ve had have been incredibly challenging because of the grown-ups in charge. Most “jobs” I’ve had have gone something like this:
- My mom tells me to email the head of an organization and offer to volunteer for them
- The head of the organization says they would love my help
- I arrive at the job and sit in the corner for half an hour while they try to figure out what to do with me
- They tell me what to do and I do it
- The grown-ups in charge start having a Grown-Up Conversation™ (actually an argument, but the cardinal rule of being a teen volunteer is that there is no such thing as an argument in a grown-up workplace, there are just Grown-Up Conversations™)
- I have to wait until the Grown-Up Conversation™ is over to ask the grown-up in charge what to do next. This step often takes so long that I end up leaving as soon as there is a lull in the Grown-Up Conversation™, at which point I tell the grown-up in charge that I have to leave.
The girl in this stock photo looks nothing like me, but the expression on her face is basically how I feel in the midst of a Grown-Up Conversation™.
The only “job” I’ve had that has not gone down this path is my volunteer position at the school library. My main responsibility at the library is to organize books on the shelves according to the Dewey decimal system. Shelving library books is harder than it sounds because there can be as many as 10 or 20 books with the same call number, and the books have to be arranged in alphabetical order by the author’s last name within each call number. It was really difficult at first, but I found that if I took my time and went one book at a time, I could get the job done with minimal stress.
I have enjoyed the library “job” for many reasons. First of all, it plays to my natural strengths: shelving library books requires patience, focus, perseverance, and attention to detail, all of which I have. Secondly, I love the quiet, peaceful atmosphere of the library; it allows me to focus on nothing but properly organizing the books. Third, I don’t have to wait for the grown-ups in charge to tell me what to do; I just find the nearest cart of unshelved books, push it to the shelves, and start organizing the books on the shelves. Fourth, it requires minimal contact with the grown-ups in charge. After my brief training, my only interactions with the school librarians have gone as follows:
Librarian: Hey, how’s the shelving going?
Me: Pretty well. I almost knocked all of the books over several times, but other than that, I’m having a good time.
Librarian: Yeah, not knocking over the books is half the battle. Thanks for helping us!
Me: Thanks for letting me help you!
Finally, I have never seen the grown-ups in charge have a Grown-Up Conversation™, and if they do, they have it out of the earshot of the teen volunteers. Also, they probably wouldn’t yell at me if I called their Grown-Up Conversation™ an argument.
I hope I can find a job like my library volunteering this summer, or at least a job in which I am never stuck in the middle of a Grown-Up Conversation™.