The word(s): hire me.

With summer almost here – yay! – I’ve finally begun applying for jobs. (See my post on procrastination.) Among my prospects: Bob Evans, Staples, Giant Eagle, Red Lobster, JCPenney, Pizza Hut, and Macy’s. I’d apply to Taco Bell as well, but introducing chicken chalupas as a regular part of my diet would probably be a bad move health-wise.

My current job hunt has allowed me to reflect on my employment history, which dates back about seven years.

In middle school, I babysat my cousins several days a week while their mother was at work. I must mention that these kids were no couch potatoes. When we weren’t jumping on their trampoline, we were playing basketball. When we weren’t playing basketball, we were drawing with chalk in the driveway. We often walked to the local park to swing, swim and fish.

The experience wasn’t a complete return to childhood for me though, because babysitting involves a great deal of responsibility. Since I arrived so early in the morning, I helped them change out of their pajamas and pick out appropriate outfits for the day. I also had a lot to remember: let the dog out every few hours, make sure Max puts on sunscreen before going outside, don’t let Emma eat more than one pudding cup (even though she’ll claim she’s allowed).

Eventually the kids didn’t need a babysitter anymore. Now Emma, who was about eight when I started watching her and her younger brother, is nearly old enough to drive. That realization makes me feel elderly.

Starting as a high school sophomore, I worked at a family-owned confectionary. The work was mostly simple – cup candies, fill trays, clean showcases, wrap gift boxes – and I adored my coworkers, who ranged in age from 16 to 60. And did I mention that I could sample as much as I wanted while I was on the clock? Sometimes I’d arrive at work with an empty stomach and promptly begin snacking on chocolate-covered buttercreams, potato chips and Oreos. Then I had to hunt down a bottle of Tums.

But during my senior year, after three holiday seasons, I felt burnt out. At the time, I was completing college and scholarship applications, maintaining my duties as editor-in-chief of the yearbook, and trying desperately to fight the senioritis that threatened my grades. I was tired and it showed, like James Franco at the 2011 Oscars. I gave my two-weeks notice.

Not working that summer allowed me to freely make plans with friends and family with whom I’d soon part ways. For the first time in what seemed like forever, I didn’t have to worry about calling off for concerts and birthdays. Still, I missed my coworkers. That job along with some serious saving allowed me to buy a laptop and other stuff for college.

I would highly recommend that a student find a job that suits him or her. Sure, it will likely be no more than minimum wage at the start, but you’ll gain a sense of maturity, form lasting relationships with coworkers and, as parents say, learn the value of a dollar.

I’ve been lucky to have fun and fruitful work experiences. Let’s hope the trend continues.

P.S. Summer job suggestions would be appreciated!

While on campus, work-study positions are a great way to gain experience and spending money.