I slid a dollar bill into the machine. Then a quarter. I waited for my classic lemonade Snapple to shoot out and provide me with enough sugar to keep me going for at least half an hour more during my weenie bin marathon Monday night. But it didn’t.
I glared at the faulty machine. I gave a “what-should-I-do” look to the guy at the next vending machine over. I then resorted to a mild tap, then a little harder, all right a determined, stressed out, I-still-don’t-know-what-I’m-doing-this-summer bang. I stomped away, back to my weenie bin, back to wrapping up freshman year.
I spent the next 15 minutes thinking about this encounter rather than Wordsworthian techniques. I concluded that yes, if I had a solid commitment from some summer employer, I would be less stressed, and less prone to trying to beating up a defective vending machine. For the next 30 seconds, I thought about sending a resume off to Snapple, Inc. Perhaps they needed taste subjects, and maybe they even had an office in my hometown.
We’re all thinking about it. For many freshmen, finding a summer job is among our first stabs at proving ourselves beyond the sunbathing and frisbee-playing of Old Campus.
First, there was the winter vacation resume-writing. I remember sitting with my laptop in front of the television, a bowl of couscous and the family dog at my side, trying to come up with everything I did last summer and during my first semester at Yale. Oh yes, “Yale” was written in bold letters, right at the top.
Once my resume was condensed to a page and somewhat representative of me, I printed out 30 copies. Now came the daunting task: what do I want to do this summer? Politics? Law? Journalism? I was a little lost, but I figured I might as well apply to a bunch of things and decide later. It was only the summer after my freshman year — whatever I did would be an experience and I didn’t have to make it my career.
Then came Undergraduate Career Services, a Yale organization that supposedly finds you a job and finds it quick. If you can’t bank on daddy being a hot-shot lawyer in dire need of an office lackey, you’re forced to resort to UCS.
I browsed the UCS search engine for a job west of the Appalachians for hours, maybe even days, over the course of January to March. But at the end of Spring Break, I returned home and back to my laptop-couscous-television position with only a few responses from various campaigns and papers, a few interview opportunities, and only a few members of the adult world interested in inexperienced, riding-on-raw-talent me.
Some freshmen have landed high-profile internships in law firms or research positions in prize-winning science labs. Some freshmen have received scholarships to take classes in foreign countries or clean up the Alaskan environment. Still others are painting their front porch this summer –they keep telling me they can’t wait to choose between romance-novel red and pina colada yellow.
And then there’s the one freshman I know who swears by a post-it he wrote a few months ago: “Get JOB.” It has been fading on his laptop keyboard ever since, taking on new meaning every morning he checks his e-mail and is reminded of that post-housing crisis, post-a cappella-jam task.
Finally, to be paid or not to be paid, that is the pre-packing boxes and cross-country drive home question –whether to join the masses working at lakefront hot dog stands or sacrifice spending money to have a quality internship experience.
In the end, leaving Yale for a summer of mustard-squirting or DNA sequencing is a more stressful affair than one might initially suppose.
Write that resume, take your finals, pack up your freshman year, and show Yale that you can make it in the real world. And if you need a relief from the stress, go take it out on the Snapple machine in Machine City.
Sarah Weiss is a freshman in Branford College. Her columns appear on alternate Wednesdays.