Redefining Summer ‘Break’

It’s the end of May, the sun is shining, and I’m almost done my first month of being a grown up. Sure I’ve had a summer job before, but living alone while working 40 hours a week is a completely new experience for me, and one I should probably get used to.


All in all, I like to think I’m a pretty normal 19 year old- at least as far as UBC students go. I just finished second year, live on campus, and am currently trying to maintain some semblance of a social life while juggling two part-time jobs, a volunteer commitment, and an executive position in a student group. For the first time ever I feel like my life somehow became busier when classes finished, and I spent the first few weeks of my ‘break’ feeling constantly exhausted and overwhelmed.

It’s not like I have a monotonous summer job or anything- on the contrary I am constantly stimulated and inspired- but the simple idea of being tied down during my so called vacation really affected me. I’m sure I’m not the only one who has felt this way. Whether it happens the moment you graduate high school or when you’re 32 years old, that feeling of ‘oh my goodness this is real life’ can be a little daunting. IMG_2529

So how did I deal with it? Easy.

  • Take a deep breath. No matter what I’m doing with my days, I’m still young. By reminding myself that 40 hours a week is actually significantly less than a quarter of my time (and I’m getting paid to do something I’m passionate about) I was able to feel a lot better about missing out on a few beach days.
  • Plan your days. After two weeks of coming home from work, turning on the TV, and watching a marathon of whatever home-improvement show happened to be on, I decided it was time to make a change. By setting times aside to hang out with friends or go to the gym I felt much more motivated to leave the couch and accomplish something with my evenings.
  • Make a schedule. One of the biggest issues I had with a more formal job was the lack of freedom to run away on vacation whenever I wanted. I actually had to plan ahead my vacation time, which seemed like a pain but turned out to be a liberating experience. By writing down my days off and scheduling trips and visits home I feel infinitely more in control of my summer.

After eighteen summers spent traveling, playing on the beach, babysitting, taking summer school or working in a coffee shop, my first experience working in a semi-professional environment took a little bit of getting used to… but to be completely honest it’s shaping up to be one of my most exciting, rewarding summers yet.

There are dozens of reasons why having a professional or semi-professional job may not be the right choice for you this summer, but from my experience “I have my whole life to work from 9-5” and “I don’t want to be stuck in one city all summer” probably don’t deserve to be on that list.

What do you think? Do you have an opinion on the pros and cons of different summer jobs? Feel free to share your opinion or past experiences by commenting below!