Tippecanoe County teens reflect on summer jobs

TIPPECANOE CO., Ind. (WLFI) — Summer is all about camp, swimming at the pool and enjoying ice cream. These are fun activities for some, but making them fun is work for many local teens — many of whom will finish their seasonal jobs before heading back to the books.

That includes McCutcheon senior Tristen Lord. She’s worked at Budges Drive In since eighth grade.

“Here I am a little middle schooler, like ‘hey guys I’m going to work here now,'” said Lord. “But now I’m a shift leader, so I come into work and I know what to expect.”

She convinced classmate Paige Russell to join her at the drive-in this summer. Both say the job has forced them to shed their shyness, connect with customers, and provide leadership at the business.

“It’s helped me become not as shy of a person because I have to deal with people everyday, and I can’t really not talk to them. So it’s kind of helped me open up,” said Russell.

Whether it’s grilling buns or keeping an eye on the water, many summer jobs force teens to interact with others including as a lifeguard at Tropicanoe Cove.

“You’re always hanging out with people that are your own age and you get to help people,” said recent Harrison graduate Megan Mooney in regards to the job. “It’s just a fun job and you get a great tan.”

Unlike missing a homework assignment at school, showing up to do the job has to happen if you want to get paid.

“During school you have to go,” said fellow recent Harrison grad Kyle Gartland. “But I signed up for this job, I put this responsibility on myself.”

Gartland has worked as a lifeguard for the last two summers in Greater Lafayette. He said he was able to save up enough money to pay for his first term at Indiana University this fall.

“When you’re a teenager, you don’t have that many responsibilities. So any money you make is free for you to do with what you want,” said Gartland.

Teens are also free to learn about what direction they want to take their career. At Camp Sycamore this summer, recent Central Catholic grad Megan Theime took her first job as a camp counselor.

“After working here with the kids all summer, I’m going to double major with child development,” said Theime.

Gaining experience that instills a work ethic and a career field interest, shows how even a few months of labor can add up to being more than just a paycheck.

“It was a reason to wake up in the morning and not sleep ’till noon. I think it made my summer a lot better,” said Theime.

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