What Was (Is) Your Favorite Summer Job?

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In summary: I was just watching a report showing that teenagers working summer jobs in the US, is down from about 58% in 1978, to 37% today. In summary, the percentage of teenagers working summer jobs in the US has significantly decreased, with only 37% of teenagers currently holding such jobs. The conversation then moves on to discussing the types of summer jobs the individuals had, including driving a wholesale food delivery truck, mowing lawns, and working at a horse-racing track. Some individuals also shared their experiences with physically demanding jobs, such as unloading a boxcar of potatoes and carrying heavy loads of pipe. Despite the challenging nature of these jobs, they were seen as valuable learning experiences and helped shape the individuals' future
  • #1
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I was just watching a report showing that teenagers working summer jobs in the US, is down from about 58% in 1978, to 37% today.

If you worked summer jobs as a teenager, what were they and which one was your favorite? If you never had one, what did you do for the summer?
 
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  • #2
I drove a wholesale food delivery truck (van) supplying local restaurants. Lots of very nice people, no lurking supervisors, fresh air: Check the truck inventory, choose a route and do the day's work.
 
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  • #3
I've been working since about age 10. I mowed lawns for a few years and then moved up to a paper route, But that was year round, not just for the summer, I think I almost always had a job but often got another job in the summer..
Lawns
Paper route
Bakery - mostly washing dishes
Grocery store - box boy and checker
Setting mobile homes - moving them and setting them up on blocks at the new site.

But my favorite job was working at Hollywood Park - an iconic horse-racing track in Los Angeles that no longer exists. There was a lot of money around and I benefited from that in a big way. But the coolest part was taking the video copy of the evening races to the local news stations. Each would make a copy and then I went on to the next. I got to know the people at ABC, CBS, and NBC news stations, including Connie Chung, who went on to do the national news. It was a very cool job for a kid. There is a lot more to the story but not for now. Suffice it to say that eventually I learned the park was run by the mob [organized crime].
 
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  • #4
That's easy: driving a forklift, Diesel, and on various grounds (yard, street, cobblestones, hill up and down, etc.)
 
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  • #5
Fire watcher on a passenger plane that was used to haul mail overnight.
 
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  • #6
Worked as a deck hand on a NOAA mapping ship.
Interesting and different.
 
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  • #7
I'm not sure I'd call it my "favorite", but surely one of my "most valuable" summers. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school, and I was unsure of what I wanted to do after graduating high school. I had several jobs that summer (in the Upper Napa Valley in Northern California):

** Digging irrigation ditches in hard dirt in the middle of a hot summer using only a pick and shovel and wheelbarrow (I'm not kidding). That is how I learned the value of starting to work outside manual labor jobs early in the morning so you can finish before the main heat of the day.

** Stringing fenceline on a hillside ranch in the foothills, including driving the metal fenceposts by hand and humping reels of sheep wire (not barbed wire thankfully) up those hillsides to string the fence.

** Doing the less-skilled part of replacing roofs -- removing the old roof involves very jarring effort with a flat-blade shovel and other tools to pull up the old shingles and leave the bare support structure ready for the new roof.

So you can probably guess why I focused so hard on my Engineering schoolwork in university... :wink:
 
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  • #8
berkeman said:
I'm not sure I'd call it my "favorite", but surely one of my "most valuable" summers. It was the summer between my junior and senior years in high school
Same summer and same comments. I got a summer job in a fruit and vegetable warehouse. I weighed 120 lbs at the beginning of the summer. My second day on the job, another new worker and I were assigned to unload a boxcar of potatoes. There are 480 sacks of potatoes in one boxcar, with each sack weighing 100 lbs. Total weight 24 tons. Our job was to stack the sacks on skids, while another employee ran the skids into the warehouse. The other new worker quit and never came back.

We got a potato boxcar every one to two weeks for the rest of the summer. Those I unloaded all by myself. I promised myself that I would never ever do that sort of physical work again. But I did gain 10 lbs that summer, none of which was fat. And my mother got new a perspective on just how much a teenage boy can eat.
 
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  • #9
jrmichler said:
And my mother got new a perspective on just how much a teenage boy can eat.
My dad had a similar thought and comment in my freshman year at university -- he said one time how it was almost a wash in cost between feeding me at home and paying my tuition and dorm costs at UC Davis. LOL.
 
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  • #10
jrmichler said:
Same summer and same comments. I got a summer job in a fruit and vegetable warehouse. I weighed 120 lbs at the beginning of the summer. My second day on the job, another new worker and I were assigned to unload a boxcar of potatoes. There are 480 sacks of potatoes in one boxcar, with each sack weighing 100 lbs. Total weight 24 tons. Our job was to stack the sacks on skids, while another employee ran the skids into the warehouse. The other new worker quit and never came back.

We got a potato boxcar every one to two weeks for the rest of the summer. Those I unloaded all by myself. I promised myself that I would never ever do that sort of physical work again. But I did gain 10 lbs that summer, none of which was fat. And my mother got new a perspective on just how much a teenage boy can eat.
I spent a summer running new pipe to individual units in a huge complex. A big part of my job was to carry 100+ LB loads [as much as you could manage] of pipe up, three stories up a ladder to the roof. The worst of it was the danger. The transition from the ladder to the roof was treacherous and I nearly took a 3-story head dive a couple of times! But every load was a workout. And we normally didn't wear shirts. So by the end of the summer I was dark and ripped!
 
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  • #11
My summer jobs were very prosaic. Mostly in grocery stores (bag boy, cashier, stock worker, etc.) and they were all OK, and I liked my fellow workers and I liked the money.

None of them stand out for me, though. What stands out, but in a negative way, was the summer I spent several weeks working in a tobacco barn in NC, hooking tobacco leaves onto drying racks. JEEZ, that stuff is nasty, and tobacco barns are HOT.
 
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  • #12
Ivan Seeking said:
I spent a summer running new pipe to individual units in a huge complex. A big part of my job was to carry 100+ LB loads [as much as you could manage] of pipe up, three stories up a ladder to the roof. The worst of it was the danger. The transition from the ladder to the roof was treacherous and I nearly took a 3-story head dive a couple of times! But every load was a workout. And we normally didn't wear shirts. So by the end of the summer I was dark and ripped!
This reminded me of a job that I had at a GM transmission plant. I had one job there that literally kept me on my toes. It was on a transfer station where I had to use something like the picture below to pick up the transmission and attach it to a hanger that would take it to another line. As you can see in the picture, it's attached at two ends. However, sometimes the one closest to me wouldn't catch properly and it would flip the transmission at my feet. Even though I did have steel-toed boots, I learned to instantly get my feet off the floor so that they wouldn't get crushed.

automotive-transmission-lift-assist-vthumb.jpg
 
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  • #13
phinds said:
What stands out, but in a negative way, was the summer I spent several weeks working in a tobacco barn in NC, hooking tobacco leaves onto drying racks. JEEZ, that stuff is nasty, and tobacco barns are HOT.
The Confederacy had sound reason to be wary of emancipation....it was certainly a well considered economic policy stance to maintain the status quo for the reasons you discovered. Lotsa money made in tobacco. As is usual in our collective history the moral considerations were defused (diffused?) by the economic ones.
 
  • #14
hutchphd said:
As is usual in our collective history the moral considerations were defused (diffused?) by the economic ones.
I think it that particular case (likely others as well) morals were not weakened they were just flat out ignored.
 
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  • #15
My favorite summer job was at about age 25, between grad school semesters, lugging beef in Boston, at Newmarket square, in Southie. We were expected to each unload 2 trucks a day, when each truck held 200 forequarters/ hindquarters of beef averaging maybe 135-150 pounds each.
 
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  • #16
Selling tickets to the Boston policeman's ball over the telephone in a "boiler room." Everyone got hyperventilated so someone laughing could crack up the whole room. It's a long story, but this employment initiated a sequence of events that got me admitted to Harvard University.
 
  • #17
Brilliant time as a "hand" in halls of residence. Started out cleaning, then laundry, painting and decorating which lead to fixtures and fittings and finally removal man!
Overtime was available and I could live at home, I was loaded, loved it.
 
  • #18
After my undergrad freshman year: Working for Atari repairing 8080 uP boards for the Space Invaders game console (the big ones). They wanted to save money buy buying cheaper PCBs from somewhere. They were crap, open traces, shorted traces, etc. This was well before anything like a bed of nails test fixture. So they just built them up and the ones that didn't work were sent to us.

My tools were a "game console" test aid (that looked nothing like the real thing, just a bank of switches and such), a DVM, and a basic oscilloscope. The best (normal) troubleshooting method involved cutting traces or IC pins, measuring things, and repairing them with solder bridges. Something you'd get instantly fired for anywhere that cared about reliability. But they'd ship anything that would work for an hour.

But the best, and, after a while, the worst part was that you had to play the game to fully test it. So after a day or so I was elated that they were paying me to play a video game. The problem was, it was the same game over and over again. It's a fairly simple game to master, and as long as you don't fall asleep, you can't ever lose. I learned to hate Space Invaders. The real game was the troubleshooting, not the verification testing.

It was an easy way to earn money though. I also learned a lot about how to work with simple uP systems since everything (RAM, ROM, PICs, etc.) was separate ICs connected by potentially faulty traces. Maybe like a doctor feeling your pulse; I could move my scope probe down the address and data buss and often get a quick idea of the nature of the problem(s). I'd guess it's an unnecessary, lost, art now. Those were primitive days in the uP world.
 
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  • #19
Not my favorite, but

I ran weedeaters and bushogs at a rocket motor plant to clear the grass off the bunker/berms over the control areas.

I'd call it a learning experience.
 
  • #20
berkeman said:
Digging irrigation ditches in hard dirt in the middle of a hot summer using only a pick and shovel and wheelbarrow (I'm not kidding).
Kind of similar: digging trenches for ground cables of a newly established housing area.

There was really a lot to learn about work (avoiding the unnecessary struggle and efficiently doing the important part), the managers (ignoring their naggin'), the engineers (always keep in mind what they said so you could avoid doing the same job twice).
We had excellent teachers: a brigade of adult physical workers. Around 80% of them alcoholics.

A really big dose of life.

Getting some insight about high voltage/power cable-work was an extra.

Here and there we could also see the previous layers of the city...
 
  • #21
My summer job after high school was a lot nicer than the summer job in Post #8. It was in a shop that rewound electric motors. Two summer workers, myself and the boss's son. I started working the steam cleaner, he started driving the truck. After a month, he was working the steam cleaner, and I was assembling and testing motors.

The steam cleaner was powerful enough to make me slide backward on the slick floor. The technique was to steam until out of range, shut off, walk forward, and repeat until clean. Personal protective gear was nonexistent. I got an impressive burn when I steamed into a corner once.

They had a large oven for curing the motor impregnation varnish. It had powerful convection blowers and ran at 300 deg F. They liked to put small stators way in the back, and did not shut the oven off when one had to be taken out. It was an experience in infrared heating. I remember that I could feel the inside of my eyeballs heating up. Ear lobes heated up fast also. The procedure was to hold breath, plan the moves, and move carefully without hesitation.

AND the experience operating the overhead crane with heavy loads came in useful when I applied what I had learned about vibrations and control theory to real world servo systems operating at high speeds. Moving a 45 lb mass 9 inches in 150 msec is easy with a good understanding of torsional natural frequency and finite jerk motion profiles.
 
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  • #22
Another summer I worked doing sheet metal fab for HP instruments. This was before outsourcing was a thing. It was located in the ground floor of their headquarters building in Palo Alto. They would come around twice a day at break time with a coffee and doughnut cart for everyone, even the lowest paid summer employees like me. Not too hard but really boring.

The thing that I really remember were the guys I worked with who were great people and lifers in that trade. In a single summer, I had three of them at different times tell me in private "get out now, don't make this work your career, go to school". They didn't know I was headed to Caltech in a couple of months regardless.
 
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Related to What Was (Is) Your Favorite Summer Job?

What was your favorite summer job?

My favorite summer job was working as a research assistant in a marine biology lab. It allowed me to combine my love for the ocean with hands-on scientific research.

Why did you enjoy that summer job the most?

I enjoyed it the most because it provided an opportunity to learn outside of a traditional classroom setting, and I was able to contribute to meaningful research that had real-world applications.

What did you learn from your favorite summer job?

From that job, I learned various research techniques, data analysis skills, and how to work effectively as part of a team. It also taught me the importance of meticulous documentation and the scientific method.

How did your favorite summer job influence your career path?

That summer job solidified my interest in scientific research and inspired me to pursue a career in marine biology. It provided a clear direction for my academic and professional goals.

Would you recommend your favorite summer job to others? Why or why not?

Absolutely, I would recommend it to others who have a passion for science and the ocean. It offers invaluable experience, networking opportunities, and a chance to contribute to important research.

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