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How summer jobs equal a lifetime of lessons

My summer jobs during high school and college are in the rearview mirror of my career, but the lessons learned still remain. While I saved most of my money for that coming year, I always bought one nice thing at the end of the summer to remember and I even remember what it was because it was a thoughtful gift to myself, not little nothings that go by the wayside. Here are just some of the things I learned and still mean something to me.

The Beadery in Franklin. The original bead store in a converted yellow garage. I worked here from 14 ½ until I was 19 when the store closed. My first boss and I shared the same first name and she taught me so much. A composed, proper women, who dressed and acted impeccably 50 weeks a year. The other two weeks, she got on her own motorcycle along side her husband and took off for parts unknown in rain or shine. She was a great example of balance. I learned, you never leave until the register and receipts match- to the penny, there is always more room on the shelf than you think and even if the customer is not right, you must still be polite.

Podiatrists Office in Pontiac. I was so lucky to be the fill-in receptionist, autoclave champion, x-ray technician and even room cleaner for Stan Marx, DPM. Stan’s fulltime help had retired, and this gave him a chance to hire someone new without being in a rush. He still promised me a whole summer of work even if he hired earlier than when I had to go back to school. From him, I learned scheduling, patient care and kindness and mostly how to multitask. This was also the first time I really understood the trickle-down effect of the auto industry in Michigan. Everyone thought Chrysler was going to strike that summer. Everyone whose feet hurt (i.e. anyone on the line) scheduled surgery to be on sick pay instead of strike pay. Then the contract settled, and I spent two weeks cancelling the surgery people really needed, but, couldn’t really afford it.

The Book Cadillac Hotel, Detroit. The general manager of the hotel was a customer of my dad and brought me into to work in the executive office the summer the Republican Convention was in Detroit. Mostly, I remember a great summer. I would eat on the river front, grab an empty room and eat my lunch watching soaps or meet my dad at Sanders or Hudson’s for lunch. We hosted four states for the convention and my job was to do all the “extras” to make things happen. I learned how to run the front desk (another people pleasing exercise), work a switch board and how to be on time to catch the express bus down to work. As a bonus, during the week of the convention, the delegations gave us tickets for each night. I would skip the politics but head in around 9:00 pm to see the show. It was the year of Reagan, so I saw both old blue eyes, Frank Sinatra and truly purple eyes, Elizabeth Taylor. It was a star-studded event.

My message is to not waste any opportunity to learn. Everything is an experience and lessons last a lifetime.

I’m interested in hearing about your summer jobs.

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