Lessons from the Most Interesting Summer Jobs at Bateman Group – Part 4
In part 3, Katrina, Elissa D., Leah and Liam dropped some knowledge bombs. Tyler, Elinor, Jordan and Mina will impart some wisdom on us in this post!
This is part of a series profiling the most interesting summer jobs of the Bateman Group inspired by the AdAge article “Guess Which Adman Used to Be the Kool-Aid Man.” The series started two summers ago in 2011 (see Bateman Summer Jobs Part 1 and Part 2).
Director of Content
Job: Bus Girl
Lesson Learned: Think strategically, and if at first you don’t succeed, don’t lose hope
My mother didn’t think I should get a summer job in high school, because, she said, “You’ll be working the rest of your life once you get a real job, so enjoy your free time while you can,” or something along those lines. Truer words were never spoken. But in my senior year, I decided it was time to start earning some extra cash for college. So, that summer my best friend and I decided to get jobs. Together we blanketed downtown restaurants in Phoenix with our pathetically thin resumes and dreams of working side-by-side. It didn’t occur to me until after my friend got a call offering her – and not me –a job that applying at the same places at the same time might not have been the best move strategically. When she didn’t last at the job much more than a week, I quickly stepped in to take her place and was rewarded with a low paying but ultimately fun and satisfying job for the rest of the summer.
Job: Produce Associate
Lesson Learned: Think outside the box…in food choices and in PR
The summer after my freshman year of college, I returned home to Iowa and got a job at The Market, Des Moines’s first-of-its-kind “upscale” grocery store. This was pre-Whole Foods and the trend of artisanal, grass-fed, farm-raised, organic everything. I’ll skip ahead and say that The Market closed its doors after six months. Sadly, I was usually the only person in the produce department.
I worked there for three months, enough time to learn how to properly cut a watermelon, how to pick the perfectly ripe avocado and how exciting it is when stone fruit season finally comes around. Besides my main tasks of restocking fruits and veggies and cutting up melons, I also worked the salad bar. Part of the “upscale” draw of The Market was that you didn’t have to make a salad yourself –- someone (me) would carefully mix up the ingredients of your choice. This is where I learned to think outside the box. Because the customer is always right, I couldn’t look grossed out when they wanted imitation crab, blue cheese, olives, kiwi, tuna salad AND strawberries on their salad. Towards the end of the summer, I started trying all different kinds of salad combos and found that the most bizarre ones were usually the best. Being open to new ideas and outside perspectives is a valuable lesson for any job, whether it’s produce or tech PR.
Job: Art Director at YMCA Camp Orkila
Lesson Learned: Let your passion guide you
My first summer home from college, I was anticipating months filled with blissful afternoons of navel gazing and swimming, until I got to return to Pitzer College in the fall, where I’d do more of the same. But upon my return home my mom pointed out that I needed to earn some money, so I applied to be an art director at Camp Orkila, in the San Juan Islands in Washington State. My role at camp was to run the art program and teach classes to groups of campers ranging in age from six to 14 who arrived in new groups every week. It was not an easy task -– I soon found that the art building was a shack filled with cobwebs in dire need of a good scrub after nine months of neglect, and we were painfully low on supplies. Additionally, the camp was short staffed, and the other staff members had their hands full wrangling campers, so I was pretty much left to my own devices to figure things out.
The good news was I’ve always been passionate about art, and I immediately loved the job. I relished the challenges of trying to make the art program better than ever, and to tackle each problem I learned the importance of being resourceful. I found anyone that I could on the Island and asked for their help. I tracked down ceramic artists who gave me tips on how to work with kids and get their clay projects to dry faster. I found a helpful librarian who introduced me to the island’s recycling center, which gave me a valuable source of new materials for art projects and sculptures. And I talked a local artist into letting me host field trips to his studio.
Working at Camp Orkila was one of the best summers of my life -– I slept in a wooden lean-to on the beach, got to indulge my creativity and to be inspired by kids. Local artisans also taught me there was a lot to learn about the world, and that in many ways, accomplishing an end is more about the journey than the result. But the most valuable lesson that I still keep with me today is the importance of letting your passion guide what you do –- for if you have true passion for something, it’s infectious and can inspire others to collaborate and work together in order to make your goals attainable.
Senior Vice President and General Manager, Brooklyn
Job: Tennis Instructor
Lesson Learned: Success can come in many different packages
I played tennis competitively for the bulk of my childhood/early adulthood, so for two summers during college, I was a tennis instructor on Nantucket. Before you conjure up visions of country clubs and Arnold Palmers, I should add the detail that I taught at the public courts on Nantucket, which were owned by the Parks and Recreation department. I would hold clinics, teach private lessons, run the pro shop and also distribute helmets and knee pads to sweaty teenage boys who wanted to use the adjacent skateboarding park. Because the courts were public, we opened at 7:00 a.m. and closed at 7:00 p.m. I should also add that getting into work at 6:30 a.m. when you are in college offers the same degree of difficulty as it would be now if I had to wake up at 3:00 a.m. and fly an airplane. On any given day, I would run a tennis clinic for 20 six year-olds, teach a lesson to the kids of a certain celebrity fashion designer, play two out of three sets with a former college tennis star and clean the wounds of said teenage boys who were not as successful on the skateboard ramp. I worked with a group of other people my age with delicious senses of humor, so even after 10 hours of straight tennis (with less than half of that of sleep in my pocket), I was spent, but would always leave work with a smile.
What was my biggest takeaway? Success can come in many different packages, and it is important to find delight in as many things as you can in your work (and life, for that matter).
Although I did get a great deal of satisfaction from taking a few games off the former champion or making a dramatic improvement in the game of a budding talent, it was often the little successes that energized me the most. For example, I taught an adorable six-year-old girl for the whole summer. Each week, we would diligently work on the basics — forehands, backhands, volleys…but most of the lesson involved me essentially tossing the ball to the middle of her strings, where it would bounce off and dribble over the net. That weekly lesson could have been mind-numbing, but it was actually really satisfying (and also insanely hilarious — she once showed up wearing a football helmet because she had a sunburn and that was the only hat her dad could find). Although I can safely say my little pupil is probably not on the pro tour now, I truly enjoyed the tiny bits of progress, such as when she actually started being able to make contact with the ball on purpose. Another thrilling triumph? She left each lesson pleased with herself and smiling. This lesson has not only helped me be a better professional, but also a better parent. I still get inappropriately excited if I am able to place a well-crafted story in a meaningful outlet, and I nearly fainted with pride when my toddler peed in his little toilet for the first time.