With summer fast approaching, undergraduates everywhere are scrambling to find ways to support themselves after school lets out. The thoughts of gaining experience in their chosen fields or just paying off student loans make some current and former students step out of their comfort zones.
Take Brad Pitt, for example. As a young acting student, he donned a chicken suit to promote the El Pollo Loco Restaurant, according to his biography on the Internet Movie Database. Other stars had less surprising jobs; as a young man, Ozzy Osbourne worked in a slaughterhouse.
Students today might not want to resort to jobs like these, but sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures.
Benjamin Valle, a freshman at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign once worked as a “corn detassler” during the hottest months of the summer. For hours, he walked through the rows of corn and plucked off the top part of the corn stalks.
“It was terrible,” Valle said. “It was so hot, and there was no relief from the sun.”
This summer, Valle is teaching at the religious retreat Totus Tuus for the Archdiocese of Chicago, in an air-conditioned building.
The summer heat does not always deter motivated college students. Katie Hanrahan, a freshman at Illinois State University, will be returning for a second summer to Donley’s Wild West Town, a themed amusement park in northern Illinois.
Although some might cringe at donning a cowboy hat and chaps to work, Hanrahan doesn’t mind.
“I like working there because I have great hours and I love the people I work with and the atmosphere,” she said.
Some college students are lucky enough to find all of these benefits in their summer jobs.
Angie Schutz, a freshman in the College of Arts & Sciences, will begin her third summer working as a camp counselor.
“I get to spend the whole summer outside, and most of the kids are awesome, too,” Schutz said. “It beats flippin’ burgers by far.”
Although a camp counselor may seem a standard summer occupation for college students, Schutz said her job is far from mundane.
“One of the craziest things I’ve had to do at my job is battling another counselor on a raft in the middle of a lake,” Schutz said with a laugh. “Paint, seaweed, fake weapons, the whole shebang!”
Finding a summer job as a college student can be stressful. Most students know to apply to multiple places and to dress well for interviews, but Hanrahan, who has held a summer job since the sixth grade, offered some additional advice.
“Tell them you are willing to work at any position, otherwise you won’t get the job – they don’t like picky people,” she said. “Also, bring a pen when applying in person.”