The Summer Job I Hated, but Learned the Most From

By Sean McKelvie, Finance Career Coach, U Career Success

In the summer of 2018, I left the profession of teaching to take on a new role with a government wildlife agency. I was hired as an educator, so I didn’t step too far away from a path I was already familiar with. I was excited that I was still going to be presenting to schools and working with students. I was excited that I was learning new things. I was excited to be making more money and having a better benefit package (things you only start to care about later in life).  

The first week consisted of paperwork, learning policies and procedures, and basic onboarding. It was not riveting, and I was starting to get concerned. However, the start of the second week felt very promising.  The week began with one of my coworkers and I appearing on the morning news to share tips and tricks on how to keep biting insects out of your yard. I had never been on a news set before, and this was an exciting experience. For the next several weeks, I would come to work on Monday morning, and I would be attached to one of the “field work” teams, such as the bike crew, the boat crew, the tree hole crew, or the ATV crew.  

These were some of the best experiences I have ever had, at any job I have ever worked in. Riding bikes through parks, neighborhoods, the zoo, and various private properties was a unique experience I was able to have with the bike crew. Cruising through canals in the Jordan River, slowly idling as we approached the duck-hunting clubs, was an experience I never thought I would have. Ripping over the Salt Flats at 50 mph while laughing hysterically is a great memory from my week with the ATV crew. Climbing trees like I was a ten-year-old again was an opportunity I would only experience with the tree crew. I have great memories from my time with each of these work crews.  

Unfortunately, my training came to an end and the reality of my actual job set in. I was again placed behind a desk from 7:00am to 3:00pm. Any time I approached my supervisor with ideas, I was quickly told, “You aren’t ready for anything like that yet.” But I was also never provided with an opportunity for growth. I was constantly told I was trying to fly too high and given little direction on how or where to actually fly.  

Needless to say, I walked away from that position frustrated, but maybe a little wiser. The jobs we apply for aren’t always the job we end up doing. I have found that I am often asked to do work that is outside the scope of the job description, but it usually provides great opportunities to expand our skillset. However, when you aren’t allowed to do the job you applied for, frustration and regret can create a negative working environment that is best left behind.