My daughter Jenny just completed her freshman year of college. Like many young adults, she was conflicted about what to do over the summer. Several of her friends had gotten internships. She wondered if working as an intern was something she should have pursued instead of taking a job as a sleep away camp counselor.
I think that working at camp was the right choice for Jenny for many reasons. But, if she had decided not to return to camp, I would not have wanted her to apply for an internship. Instead, I would have encouraged her to follow in the footsteps of her friend Amy who is a year older. Last summer, Amy spent eight weeks working at Chipotle, a fast food restaurant in her neighborhood. Amy says, “Chipotle was a great first ‘real’ job, and was one of the best experiences I’ve had to date.”
7 Reasons Why Working at Chipolte is Better than Being an Intern
1. Apply For the Job On Their Own
Getting a summer job as an intern as a rising freshman or sophomore can be very difficult. Many young adults have to rely on connections that their parents have to secure an internship opportunity. Amy got her job at Chipotle totally on her own. Says Amy, “I applied online for the job and quickly got a call to come in for an interview. I interviewed and got offered the job on the spot.”
2. Improved life skills
Working in retail or food services means dealing with customers, co-workers and bosses on a daily basis. You have to be polite and calm, regardless of the circumstances. Amy says, “I gained stronger interpersonal skills, improved my communication skills and developed better teamwork abilities.”
These types of low wage jobs also teach young adults time management skills. Hours tend to be inconsistent, so they may have to forgo social plans because of work commitments. Daily work tasks may vary and all need to be completed before the shift ends. Amy had responsibilities she enjoyed such as working the register and also jobs she didn’t, such as cleaning the grills and mopping floors. No matter what the task assigned, she needed to be contentious and get it done.
3. Earn a Paycheck
Prior to working at Chipotle, Amy had worked as a babysitter for many local families. While babysitting is a job, it’s one that includes a comfy couch, a television and a fully stocked refrigerator. It is also job with an hourly salary that is way above minimum wage and without any tax withholding. Working at Chipotle was a lot different; Amy worked longer hours, was on her feet for most of her shift and her take home pay was substantially lower than a babysitting gig.
Even though Amy did not make tons of money, working at Chipotle did pay her a salary. In contrast many summer internship employers do not pay at all. It’s nice for young adults to have their own spending (or saving) money rather than having to rely on their parents to pay expenses all summer.
4. Understand that work isn’t always fun
Being on your feel all day, dealing with impatient hungry customers and completing the same mundane tasks over and over again can be tedious. But what real job is fun all the time? Working long shifts at a restaurant really illustrates that making a living is hard work. Amy says, “At times it was very boring and very hot, especially in front of the grill during the summer. I gained a great respect for my bosses and coworkers, who were working many hours on their feet to support their families.”
5. Use skills learned at school (and also learn some new interesting skills)
Amy says, “I worked on the cash register so I used some basic math skills learned in school such as making change and manipulating fractions.” Working at Chipotle taught Amy about proper food preparation and safety. She also learned the correct way to cut jalapeno peppers (never touch your eyes after handling the seeds) and how to make a mean guacamole – skills that will make her a very popular hostess for future summer fiestas!
6. Real world work experience does help you
Many young adults believe that working as a summer intern is the only types of work experience that future employers are impressed with. But a regular summer job can improve your confidence and help you to develop a strong work ethic. Amy believes the working at Chipotle is the reason she was able to get a prestigious research fellowship this summer. Amy says, “When interviewing for the lab position I was asked about my experiences working ‘a real job’. I was able to relate the skills I learned and honed at Chipotle to the skills necessary for job I was currently applying for. I believe this is one of the major reasons why I was hired.”
7. Learn about the real world
Amy says, “Most of the people, including my bosses, who worked at Chipotle were immigrants from various Hispanic countries, who were working hard to support their entire families. What was just a summer job to me was a career to many of my coworkers. This forced me to be very humble, and opened my eyes to the privilege that I have, and how lucky I am to be attending college so I won’t have to work a minimum wage job for the rest of my life.” Working a lower wage job can give young adults a better understanding of people whose lives are so different from their own. I am sure Amy has even more appreciation now than before of all the staff working at restaurants she frequents and how hard they truly work.
Photo credit: Leo Newball
Randi Mazzella has been a freelance writer for over ten years. Her work has appeared in many online and print publications including Teen Life, Your Teen, NJ Family and Barista Kids. She draws much of her inspiration from her crazy and fun life adventures with her own three children.